Paolo Di Canio: “a fascist but not a racist”. That’s ok then

I have no idea whether or not Paulo Di Canio is a racist, just as I have no clue whether everyone who waddles through Trafalgar Square on May Day with a giant portrait of Stalin believes in the necessity of the Gulag or a bullet to the back of the head. I would, however, hesitate to put such people in positions where they have authority over people who their political heroes regarded as expendable.

“A fascist but not a racist.”

Those were the words the new manager of Sunderland football club Paolo Di Canio once used to describe himself and they are being bandied about by supporters of Di Canio to bat off criticism of his appointment as Sunderland boss.

Di Canio has the word “Dux”, the Latin equivalent of “Duce”, tattooed on his arm and he has in the past been pictured giving straight arm Roman salutes to Italian fans in his native country.

“I give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a ‘camerata’ to ‘camerati’,” Di Canio said after one incident for which he was fined seven thousand Euros, making sure to use the Italian words for members of Benito Mussolini’s fascist movement.

Di Canio was appointed manager of Sunderland on Sunday afternoon after the sacking of Martin O’Neil. The most high profile reverberation so far from the decision was reported yesterday by the BBC, which said that former foreign secretary David Miliband had stood down from his post at Sunderland FC because of Di Canio’s “right-wing views”.

From much of the coverage one can surmise two things: Mr Di Canio is not a racist (just a fascist) and Mr Miliband has decided to stand down because the new Sunderland boss is “right-wing”.

And yet there is an elephant in the room. A fascist elephant, if you like.

The problem is that fascism without racism is a bit like wife beating without sexism – one is very much intrinsic to the other. Fascism is not comparable to being “a bit right-wing” like Jeremy Clarkson or Norman Tebbit. Fascism is an ideology based on ultra-nationalism which slips into racial chauvinism and bigotry like a hot knife moves through butter.

I have no idea whether or not Paulo Di Canio is a racist, just as I have no clue whether everyone who waddles through Trafalgar Square on May Day with a giant portrait of Stalin believes in the necessity of the Gulag or a bullet to the back of the head. I would, however, hesitate to put such people in positions where they have authority over people who their political heroes regarded as expendable.

Benito Mussolini rallied against Italians for having “no consciousness of race” and proudly boasted to his mistress on the eve of war with Britain that he had “been a racist since 1921”. There is also the small matter of his sending 6,806 Jews to concentration and death camps and promulgating the “Manifesto of Fascist Racism”, which forbade intermarriage along the lines of Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws.

The only real sense in which Mussolini was not a racist was in comparison to Hitler, who as it happens, he regarded as a teary-eyed “sentimentalist”.

Personally I’d like the bar to be set a little higher, thanks very much.

What an earth, then, do Sunderland football club think they are doing appointing a self-proclaimed fascist to any job at the football club, let alone a managerial role? More importantly, why do those involved in the decision believe they have any right to absolve supporters of Benito Mussolini of the historical consequences of their murderous ideology?

The answer appears to be that if one says the magic word “football” everything is fine. Appointing a self-proclaimed fascist who thinks Mussolini a “deeply principled individual” is fine. Each and every criticism of the above is “politics”, and therefore does not apply to the “beautiful game”.

85 Responses to “Paolo Di Canio: “a fascist but not a racist”. That’s ok then”

  1. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  2. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  3. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  4. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  5. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  6. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  7. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  8. Mr Footie Fan

    Blimey, who cares what happened to millions of Jews in some silly old war centuries ago? Football is the most important activity in the world and it has nothing to do with history or boring politics, that’s why it is on 129 TV channels none-stop, 24 hours a day. People call us footie fans thick (and yes, I can spell FASHIST!!!!!!!!!), but we understand that the beautiful game has room for all types, races and creeds (except for the ones we throw bananas at, ‘cos they’re not really British).
    The bottom line is, at the end of the day, the boy Di Canio done good.

  9. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  10. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  11. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  12. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  13. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  14. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  15. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  16. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  17. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  18. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  19. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  20. rossi

    its football not politics FACT haway ladddss

  21. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  22. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  23. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  24. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  25. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  26. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  27. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  28. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  29. Guy Halsall

    Let’s also not forget the small matter of Mussolini’s gas-bombing of Africans in Libya and Ethiopia/Abyssinia (including red-cross stations).

  30. roger rederer

    don’t much see what’s wrong with being a fascist anyway – not many people are these days – whatever happened to celebrating diversity?

    politics is so boring. at least in the ’30s they were debating the big questions fascism/communism/liberalism from different parts of the spectrum. compare that with lib/lab/con all over the middle ground.

    maybe we need a bit of fascism. maybe we need to hang a few bankers and politicians. I don’t think so, but I’m happy to debate with someone who does. and I wouldn’t not employ someone because of their views anyway. we’re all different and you can’t help that much how you feel.

    the Nazis weren’t all bad. just like muslims or anyone else is all bad. they did some terrible things (holocaust) and some great things (invading Russia). nothing worse than the British empire. I neither mind someone being an Imperialist or a Nazi. I just couldn’t give a fuck

  31. SadButMadLad

    You got the whole point about free speech.

  32. Bel-Shamharoth

    Whle 6806 people is a horrific number of people to send to almost certain death, bear in mind that this was *after* the German invasion, that the Italians apparently did not send Jews to the death camps prior to that, that Jews in the part of France occupied by Italy were sheltered in Italy and that Vichy France, while still independent of German rule, contrived to send 50 thousand (before finding another 25 thousand over the next couple of years), so we can probably conclude that Nazi Germany would have been happy to find room for however many Jews the Italians wanted rid of, and that the Italians were less than keen on the idea.

    It’s a bit much to talk in one sentence (as the article linked to by the number 6806) about an invading force setting up a “puppet Fascist state” and then in the next about how said invading force acted “in collaboration” with it.

    Mussolini did indeed commit atrocities, and I’d agree that separating fascism from racism doesn’t make any sense at all, but you don’t need to pin other people’s crimes on him to prove this, he managed quite enough on his own. It’s pretty clear that under his rule, Jews and other minorities were severely discriminated against, but he does appear to have stopped short of genocide-at-home while it was still his choice.

    As for Di Canio, anyone who can come up with “fascist but not racist” has to be either thick or badly-informed. I’d guess it’s just a particularly bad case of rose-tinted spectacles. I bet he knows a damn sight more about the realities of fascism now than he did a few years ago.

    And I’m not sure wife-beating does go hand in hand with sexism.

  33. Gerry Dorrian

    A lecturer in political philosophy phoned the Jeremy Vine show and drew attention to non-racist facist regimes in South America, and said the waters were muddied by left-wingers calling anything they don’t like “fascist”. I don’t support fascism, I just wish people would get on board with 20th century European history – Old Labour would have been happy with much of Mussolini’s programme. What would stick in the craw of any decent person would be the defining mark of fascism – a totalitarian state with a “supreme leader”, whether that leader lean to the left or right.

  34. Simon Moore

    New statement from Di Canio: “I am not political, I do not affiliate myself to any organisation, I am not a racist and I do not support the ideology of fascism”. About time too.

  35. Peter Squires

    Presumably, husband-beating is also sexism, or is it just an urban myth?

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