The main topic of discussion on Italy’s Liberation Day commemoration is the surge in antifascist discourse

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In a recent media uproar on suspected censorship and the legacy of Italian fascist complicity in the Holocaust and crimes committed during World War II, Italy celebrated its freedom from Nazi occupation and fascist rule on Thursday.

At the solemn Liberation Day ceremony in Rome, Premier Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party traces its origins to the neo-fascist movement that arose following the fall of dictator Benito Mussolini, joined the Italian president at the monument of the nameless soldier.

The decision by state-run RAI television to censor a planned Liberation Day monologue by an Italian author criticizing fascism and what he claimed was Meloni’s failure to disavow it caused a media uproar this year, coinciding with the anniversary.

In Italy, where Meloni’s election in 2022 as the country’s first hard-right leader since World War II sparked criticism that Italians haven’t fully come to terms with their fascist past in the same way that common Germans did with national socialism, the subject touched a raw nerve.

For days, Italian news has been dominated by the theory that RAI suppressed Antonio Scurati’s monologue because it was critical of Meloni, her party, and the persistence of neo-fascist attitude. Meloni posted the Scurati piece on her Facebook page along with a preface blaming the left-wing opposition of creating a scandal where none existed in an attempt to end the controversy.

Meloni stated in the article that while she was unaware of the events at RAI, the state-run broadcaster claimed it simply refused to provide Scurati “1,800 euros ($1,930; the monthly salary of many employees) for a one-minute monologue.”

The monologue, which was intended to be broadcast as part of RAI’s Liberation Day celebrations, narrated well-known events, including the 1944 massacres of Italian civilians during Nazi occupation and the June 10, 1924 assassination by Mussolini hitmen of a socialist lawmaker opposed to fascism, Giacomo Matteotti.

“These two contemporaneous melancholy anniversaries – spring of ’24, spring of ’44 – announce that fascism was an irredeemable phenomenon of systematic murderous and massacre-fueled political violence throughout its historical existence — not only at the end or occasionally,” Scurati’s essay stated. Will this be acknowledged for once by the inheritors of that history? Sadly, all the evidence points to the possibility that they won’t.

Meloni has made a concerted effort to build relationships with the Italian Jewish community, support Israel, especially in its ongoing war in Gaza, and try to dissociate her Brothers of Italy party from its neo-fascist origins.

However, the opposition claims that her forces are unable to make a formal commitment to being “anti-fascist.”

Meloni once more refrained from using the term “anti-fascist” in an Instagram post on Thursday, instead praising how Liberation Day marked “the end of fascism” and “laid the foundations for the return of democracy.”

We reiterate that we oppose all authoritarian and totalitarian governments. Both those from the past, which persecuted people throughout Europe and the world, and those from the present, which we are resolved to bravely and resolutely fight,” the author stated.

For its part, RAI has started an internal inquiry to find out who made the decision to spike the Scurati monologue. The prize-winning book “M,” which explores Mussolini’s ascent and contemporary similarities, was written by Scurati.

Predictably, appeals for mayors to quote from the Scurati text during their Liberation Day addresses this year have been sparked by the notion that the state-run broadcaster spiked a text unflattering of Meloni’s governing party.

According to Corriere della Sera columnist Aldo Grasso, “there is a rule not to be forgotten at the root.” The “boomerang effect” refers to the significant possibility that a text may become uncontrollable and take an unforeseen turn once it has been censored. This is the events that transpired.”

Liberation Day tensions were already high due to Israel’s conflict in Gaza and planned pro-Palestinian marches in Italy on a day that honors the country’s Jewish community. This dispute surrounding RAI has only made them worse. However, the Italian Partisan Association, which opposed Nazi occupation and fascist forces, intended to proceed with marches, one of which would feature Scurati in Milan.

The National Association of Italian Americans’ Liberation Day flag for this year exclaimed, “Long live the antifascist republic!”