Every year, when Italian Liberation Day comes, it comes with the usual bunch of disinformed morons asking: Why can’t we use the fascist salute, while one can comfortably proclaim himself communist, which the law doesn’t prohibit?
So, dear bunch of disinformed morons, I’ll try to clarify that for you:
Although incredibly disregarded in our times, we have a law that says hailing fascism is forbidden. And why is that? That’s because fascism brought Italy to a war the only goal of which was to create a Europe sired to Adolf Hitler, a Europe littered with Nazi concentration and extermination camps.
You are legally forbidden to exhibit a fascist salute because fascism, in Italy, suppressed every different opinion, prosecuted any disagreement, because Mussolini’s regime sentenced 4596 people, of which 697 were minors, in his Special Tribunal for the Defence of the State — 42 of those sentences were death sentences, 31 of them were executed.
If you are not legally allowed to wave your stupid hand in the air, that’s because fascism was responsible for Matteotti’s murder, for the brothers Rosselli’s murder. It is because fascism sent almost 350,000 Italians to die in a war alongside Hitler (and I would add 320,000 frozen, mutilated, disabled, so we’re talking about a regime that killed or crippled more than 1.5% of its total population). It is because, in 1938, Italian fascism promulgated Racial Law, and we, as Italians, had to witness the shame of a Manifesto of Race. It is because fascism is responsible for the deportation of more than 44,000 people to concentration camps, and 15,000 of them never came back. Because fascism created, and glorified, mass murderers like Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, who was listed by Onu as a war criminal, who used toxic gas and chemicals on civilians and bombed the Red Cross. Those are the reasons, among many others, why you're not legally allowed to wave your stupid hand in the air.
But, average moron, you do ask: So why can a person wave his clenched fist in the communist salute? I’ll tell you why.
That would be because, in Italy, despite what many of you seem to think, we never had a ‘communist dictatorship’. Instead, the Italian communists, more than any other political formation, contributed to the Resistance and helped free our country from the Hitler scum.
The reason you can confidently declare yourself a communist, in Italy, is that the Italian Communist Party never established a totalitarian regime, and instead fought many cutting-edge political battles, enhanced our political rights, and even guaranteed many social achievements you are currently benefiting from. One can proudly raise his clenched fist because, in case you didn’t notice, the Italian Communist Party wasn’t represented by Pol Pot but by passionate and honest people like Enrico Berlinguer. So, as the worst idiot can easily grasp, there is no legal problem for an Italian declaring himself a communist. While, on the other hand, if one uses the fascist salute in a country in which fascism meant whistle-blowing, torture, imprisonment, confinement, massacres, war, deportation, concentration camps, racial laws, he is implicitly validating that horror, vindicating it.
So, dear disinformed moron, every time you try to assert the impossible equivalence between fascists and partisans, it is our duty to remind you of something: Without any doubt, the history of the Italian Resistance includes tragic moments, or isolated horrors, as every war does. And without any doubt some very young men ended up choosing one side or another out of family motives (a brother who made the wrong choice, a father killed by the other side), or for other reasons which are not always easy to comprehend or condemn.
But there’s a fact, a very simple fact, that you constantly miss: The worst man among the partisans was fighting for freedom, and the best man among the fascists, among the Italian Social Republic of Salò, no matter how young, no matter how ‘innocent’, was fighting for extermination camps, for ethnic annihilation of minorities, the mass killing of homosexuals, Jews, gipsies, mental health patients — he was fighting for a word devoted to Hitler.
As Italo Calvino wrote, in ‘The Path to the Nest of Spiders’:
C'è che noi, nella storia, siamo dalla parte del riscatto, loro dall'altra. Da noi, niente va perduto, nessun gesto, nessuno sparo, pur uguale al loro [...] tutto servirà se non a liberare noi a liberare i nostri figli, a costruire un'umanità senza più rabbia, serena, in cui si possa non essere cattivi. L'altra è la parte dei gesti perduti, degli inutili furori; perduti e inutili anche se vincessero, perchè non fanno storia, non servono a liberare ma a ripetere e perpetuare quel furore e quell’odio.
"Because here we're in the right, there they're in the wrong. [...] with us nothing is lost, not a gesture, not a shot, though each may be the same as theirs [...] they will all serve if not to free us then to free our children, to create a world that is serene, without resentment, a world in which no one has to be bad. The others are on the side of lost gestures, of useless resentment, which are lost and useless even if they should win, because they are not making positive history, they are not helping to free themselves but to repeat and perpetuate resentment and hatred."
That is why there's no possible equivalence. That's why fighters from the two sides can never be put on the same level. Just suck it up.