Berlusconi Under Fire for Praising Mussolini

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 27 2013 12:56 PM

Berlusconi: Mussolini Wasn’t So Bad (Except for the Whole Anti-Jew Thing)

160036185
Silvio Berlusconi accused the left of trying to exploit his comments for electoral gain

Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi certainly doesn’t have the best timing in the world. Proving just how tone deaf a politician can be, Berlusconi seems to have thought that the sidelines of a Holocaust remembrance ceremony was the right time to defend Italy’s fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Although Berlusconi at least did say that Mussolini was wrong to pass anti-Jewish laws, otherwise he wasn’t so bad. Berlusconi, who is running in next month’s parliamentary elections, also defended Mussolini’s decision to ally himself with Hitler, noting that he probably assumed the German leader was going to win and he wanted to be on the winning side, reports the Associated Press.

"It's difficult now to put yourself in the shoes of people who were making decisions at that time," Berlusconi said. “Obviously the government of that time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler's Germany rather than opposing it," Berlusconi said. He added: “The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well."

Advertisement

Reuters explains that Mussolini’s “status in Italy remains deeply ambiguous.”  Outside the country, Mussolini is most known for his alliance with Nazi Germany, but his government also paid for infrastructure projects and welfare for supporters. Still, Berlusconi’s comments were condemned by several left-leaning leaders with some calling on the former prime minister to be prosecuted for promoting fascism.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?