At this time of year, Italy’s newsstands offer a variety of calendars to suit every taste, from fast cars to naked women. But this one startled me, not least because it would seem to be in violation of Italy’s law against apologia del fascismo (“apology for Fascism”), which prescribes penalties against whoever “pubblicamente esalta esponenti, principi, fatti o metodi del fascismo, oppure le sue finalita’ antidemocratiche” – “publicly exalts exponents, principles, facts, or methods of Fascism, or its anti-democratic goals.”
According to Wikipedia, this law was watered down by subsequent court challenges to the point that defending Italian Fascism could only be considered a crime when such “exaltation” might lead to a refoundation of the original Fascist political party. Not likely to happen over a mere calendar, but the fact such a thing is openly offered for sale is enough to make me (and many Italians with longer memories) uncomfortable.
It seems obvious that the calendar (and other increasingly popular Fascist memorabilia) is designed to appeal to those Italians (e.g., young skinheads) who nostalgize about the Fascist period as a time of law and order and Italian martial glory – or, at least, a time when “the trains ran on time.” When the apologia law was instituted in 1952, Italians knew from direct and bitter experience that the Fascist period had been one of oppression and war which saw, among other horrors, the deportation of Italian Jews to German concentration camps.
Perhaps the Italian education system needs to spend a little less time on the glories of ancient Rome (Ross studied those in her first years of both middle school and high school), and more on the abominations committed by those who claimed to be following in Rome’s glorious footsteps. “Those who do not remember the past…”