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October 08, 2005

NY'S COLUMBUS DAY PARADE HONORS FASCIST HOMOPHOBE MIRKO TREMAGLIA (updated)

It's sad enough that this year's Grand Marshal of the New York City Columbus Day parade will be the arch-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia -- although the Parade's organizers at least have the excuse that he's the highest-ranking Italian-American in the federal government.. But the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which runs the Big Apple parade, Tremaglia has absolutely NO excuse for having insulted all those Italian-Americans who believe in democracy, are anti-fascists, or who are gay, by inviting and honoring Mirko Tremaglia (left) -- an out-and-out fascist and homophobe who fought for Mussolini -- as part of the Columbus Day Parade's festivities.

Today's New York Times carries a story about the controversy this odious specimen's being honored by the Columbus Day Parade has provoked, and the disgust and outrage among Italian-American gays and anti-fascists it has generated. But the Times' account of Tremaglia's background is mild compared to the reality.

Mirko Tremaglia. is Minister for Italians Abroad in ultra-conservative Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Government, as one of the ministers representing the Alleanza Nationale,. the party which Berlusconi's Vice-Premier, former neo-fascist youth leader GianfrancoTriemagliafini  Fini, built on the ruins of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. (at right, Tremaglia and Fini). Tremaglia participated during World War II as a volunteer officer in the Repubblica di Salò (or Salo Republic), the ephemeral government which Benito Mussolini established -- at Hitler's orders -- in the north of Italy after the Italian fascist dictator had been deposed in Rome. The Repubblica di Salò, which owed its existence entirely to the Nazis, participated actively in the deportation of hundreds of Italian Jews, gays, gypsies and other minorities to extermination camps during the holocaust. Tremaglia is proud of his fascist past and makes no apology for it.  (At right, the war flag of the Salo Republic) Salo_republic_war_flag 

In a debate published in La Stampa on September 8, 2003 (and archived on the website of the Centro di studi della Resistenza), Tremaglia says that when Mussolini fell and he saw the people celebrating the end of the fascist regime in the streets, he felt "physically sick" at the sight.Tremaglia still claims that the Salo Republic was "necessary," and praises what he asserts were the Salo Republic's "great social program in which workers cooperated to help protect and manage utilities and businesses" without mentioning they did worked at gunpoint under Nazi orders). Tremaglia goes on to praise the objectives of the fascist "Rome or Death Brigade" which fought alongside the Germans against the Americans after the American invasion, saying, :"I believe in it! The charm, the fascination of Mussolini...the Empire. You remember it, the Empire?" In this debate, Tremaglia throughout displays weepy nostalgia for Mussolini and fascism, and refuses to say he has changed his views since 1943: "We believed in Hitler's secret weapons, this was not an idle fantasy: there were the V2 and research  into nuclear weapons. Disown anything of this? Why?...I cannot disown my life. The values for which we fought belong to the history of the country."

Last October, when the European Union's Commission in Brussels rejected as Justice Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione, Berlusconi's nominee, because of Buttiglione's reactionary views on gays and women, Mirko Tremaglia lamented, "Poor Europe, the faggots are in the majority." The Italian word Tremaglia used, culattoni, is the most derogatory and vulgar insult referring to gay people, and he subsequently defended his choice of this epithet, telling the center-left daily La Republicca that "I called them faggots and I repeat it. I'm a Bergamo man and I don't go around there saying 'gays.' I say 'faggots' because that's what we call them where I'm from. There's no point in philosophizing about it, I'm against (homosexuality)." The furor this incident caused was recounted at the time in the prestigious centrist daily Corriere della Sera. Vice Premier Fini defended Tremaglia, saying the row his statements had caused "had been a bit excessive."

Tremaglia's New York appearance is only the first stop on a U.S. tour, as the official website of Tremaglia's ministry notes in boasting of his being embraced by the Columbus Day Parade, saying : "the goal of (his) mission is to visit the Italian communities in the US. The first stop will be New York, where the Minister....will participate as guest of honor in the Columbus Day Parade."

IGaetano_salveminin honoring the fascist Tremaglia, the Columbus Citizens Foundation pisses on theCarlo_tresca  memory of great Italian-American anti-fascists like Gaetano Salvemini (left, who's been honored in modern Italy with a postage stamp) and Girolamo Valenti and Carlo Tresca (right),  spits on the living heritage of the boatloads of Italians who fled Mussolini's fascism in the 1920s and 1930s to find freedom in the United States, insults the tens of thousands of Italian-Americans who fought fascism in World War II, and endorses Tremaglia's venomous hatred of gay people (including the countless number of gay Italian-Americans.)

Let's hope that, wherever Tremaglia goes on his US tour, anti-fascists and Italian democrats and gays will greet him with the opprobrium he deserves. Protests of outrage at Tremaglia's NY appearance at the Columbus Day festivities may be e-mailed to the Columbus Citizens Foundation at ccf@columbuscitizens.org

Thanks to George De Stefano and Judy Harris for research and translation assistance. Readers who appreciated this post will be interested in the latest report from DIRELAND's Rome correspondent, "The Church Re-Enters Italian Politics, Dividing the Left."

Gay City News reports that Greater Voices, a coalition of LGBT political clubs, will protest against the presence of Tremaglia and Scalia in the Columbus Day festitivities at 12 Noon, Monday, October 9th, at Fifth Ave. and 59th Street.

Posted by Direland at 10:49 AM | Permalink

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Comments

iam italian and i think you have a slightly distorted view of the italian governament. I am a left-wing supporter, but, although I am disgusted by the dmages the right-wing governament is doing to my country eduction and finances, I wouldn't call FACIST and RACIST Berlusconi, Fini and co.
I mean, these people may have believed in strange ideas 20 or more years ago, but as Italy, they have, even just slightly, progressed and adapted.
There are not facist anymore, moreover not in Italy. The racist behaviour of every single french person when you go on holiday there, looking at you badly if you do not speak their language, makes you understand there is much worst around!

Posted by: simona | Nov 10, 2005 9:45:59 AM

So what else is new? I am not the least bit surprised that those right-wing douchebags in NYC would not only have American-born fascist Antonin Scalia as Grand Marshal of their Columbus Day Parade but also compound the problem by having Mirko Tremaglia, an unapologetic Nazi.

I am 29 years old and this only proves, yet again, that these ethnic organizations are not only polluted with old farts in their 60's and 70's who pine for the "glory days" of World War II (the "my country, right or wrong" bs), but that they are utterly meaningless.

It was because of the so-called "greatest generation" (who did nothing but jitterbug in local dance halls, wearing tight dresses for the servicemen there, and having those wonderful servicemen treat them like eye candy while the real sacrificing and siuffering was going on in Europe) that my generation is now trying to recoup our heritage, our traditions, our language after having it surpressed for so long in favor of the ever tiresome "melting pot" line.

How do these World War II vets live with such decisions? Their silence is loud and clear.

The Sons of Italy and other useless fraternal organizations are nothing more than American Italians' answer to WASPy organizations such as the Urban League, etc., where they were denied membership then and now.

These organizations aren't interested in promoting Italian regions, culture, art, language, etc. They're nothing but extensions of the Republican Party and that's the reason why people my age ignore or laugh at them.

Thank you for a very interesting and enlightening article.

Posted by: Donna Di Giacomo | Oct 11, 2005 9:47:01 PM

So what else is new? I am not the least bit surprised that those right-wing douchebags in NYC would not only have American-born fascist Antonin Scalia as Grand Marshal of their Columbus Day Parade but also compound the problem by having Mirko Tremaglia, an unapologetic Nazi.

I am 29 years old and this only proves, yet again, that these ethnic organizations are not only polluted with old farts in their 60's and 70's who pine for the "glory days" of World War II (the "my country, right or wrong" bs), but that they are utterly meaningless.

It was because of the so-called "greatest generation" (who did nothing but jitterbug in local dance halls, wearing tight dresses for the servicemen there, and having those wonderful servicemen treat them like eye candy while the real sacrificing and siuffering was going on in Europe) that my generation is now trying to recoup our heritage, our traditions, our language after having it surpressed for so long in favor of the ever tiresome "melting pot" line.

How do these World War II vets live with such decisions? Their silence is loud and clear.

The Sons of Italy and other useless fraternal organizations are nothing more than American Italians' answer to WASPy organizations such as the Urban League, etc., where they were denied membership then and now.

These organizations aren't interested in promoting Italian regions, culture, art, language, etc. They're nothing but extensions of the Republican Party and that's the reason why people my age ignore or laugh at them.

Thank you for a very interesting and enlightening article.

Posted by: Donna Di Giacomo | Oct 11, 2005 2:07:28 PM

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