Written by Alex Welsford |
You may have seen that Jim Carrey and Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of OG fascist, Benito Mussolini, had an altercation on Twitter. Given the timing, the news could easily have been mistaken for an elaborate and bizarre April Fools joke, but no. This really happened.
It all began when Carrey posted a drawing of the Italian dictator and his mistress hanging upside down after their execution in 1945. The actor captioned the image: “If you’re wondering what fascism leads to, just ask Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta.”
Alessandra Mussolini shot back, calling Carrey “a bastard”, in what is just the latest example of the former Italian Senator and MEP coming to the defence of her grandfather, who is not alone in being targeted by the Ace Ventura actor. His recent political artworks include illustrations of the smirking MAGA boy, Donald Trump, and anyone else he disagrees with politically.
Alessandra Mussolini’s line of attack then took a bizarre twist, when she began taunting Carrey with pictures of a nuclear mushroom cloud, Mount Rushmore and a slave being whipped. She asked the actor and artist: “do you know the history of [Rosa Parks]?”
It baffles belief that Alessandra Mussolini thinks Carrey is in any way supportive of, or to blame for, any of these things. The Italian politician, who follows in her grandfather’s far-right footsteps, seems to be doing just that. A sloppy cartoonist with a penchant for stirring up trouble, perhaps; but a genocidal, slave-whipping war criminal? Come on.
Instead of demanding that Jim Carrey answer for the crimes of the USA (despite having grown up in Canada), I thought it would be ‘fun’ to hit the history books and run through some of the atrocities that Mussolini oversaw or personally sanctioned:
- Crushing opposition through intimidation, propaganda, and murder
Mussolini’s fascists used violence and intimidation to terrorise the population of Italy, murdering whoever opposed them. In 1919, they attacked the offices of Mussolini’s former employer, the socialist newspaper Avanti!, in scenes reminiscent of the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices. In 1922, Mussolini and 30,000 fascists marched on Rome and seized complete control of the state and media, ensuring a steady stream of propaganda to increase support for the new dictator.
- Pacification of Libya
Italian Libya was a colony of the Italian Kingdom, since the Italo-Turkish war in 1911. Between 1923 and 1932, indigenous rebels organised a resistance against Italian settlement. Mussolini’s response was brutal: mass civilian executions, the use of chemical weapons, and refusing to take prisoners of war, instead killing surrendering resistance fighters. It is believed that half the population of Cyrenaica, the eastern coastal region of Libya, were forcibly expelled from their homes to make way for Italian settlers, and that a further quarter of this population died during the conflict.
- Racial laws and persecution of Jews
Although Mussolini’s Italy was not initially antisemitic, racist overtones had existed since its conception. The fascists considered white people to be superior to other races and believed that Italians were members of the Aryan race. Further influenced by Nazism, this racist sentiment was solidified from 1938 to 1943, when the Italian racial laws were put into place, enforcing racial discrimination towards the indigenous inhabitants of Italy’s colonies and Italian Jews. The civil rights of Jews in Italy were restricted, their assets were stripped from them, their books banned, and their travel was restricted. Jews were banned from public office and higher education.
Alessandra Mussolini wants to defend her grandfather’s honour, but he did a good job of destroying it himself.
And I’m still yet to mention Ethiopia, where Italian soldiers used mustard gas, killed civilians, and attacked Red Cross hospitals. Alessandra Mussolini wants to defend her grandfather’s honour, but he did a good job of destroying it himself.
Yes, Jim Carrey’s illustration is crass, but fascism is on the rise across the globe, boosted in its efforts by digital propaganda platforms. They say we learn history so as not to repeat it, but are we doomed to regardless?