Melania Trump’s Coat Celebrates Fascist Regiment

Roger Benham  June 22 2018

01-mt captioned_1Giovanni Tiso wrote a short and enlightening essay today about the history of “I Really Don’t Care” in Italian:…/a-brief-fascist-history-of-i-don…/: I don’t really speak Italian, so I didn’t realize this right away, but “Me Ne Frego,” or “I don’t really care,” was the slogan of the World War I Arditi, the Italian stormtroopers. It came from the writings of the soldier poet and proto-Fascist Gabrielle d’Annunzio, who led Arditi veterans in taking the city of Fiume in Croatia after the war, a brief nationalist revolution that indirectly led to Mussolini’s seizure of power in 1922.

02-mt death head me ne frego i don't really careHere’s what’s startling to me, after finding this out. I have been to northeastern Italy, and just across the border into Slovenia. You cannot drive through the smallest village in this region without seeing a monument or cemetery dedicated either to the World War I dead, the Fascists, or the defeat of the Fascists by Communist Yugoslav partisans and Italian antifa geurrillas at the end of World War II. Streets everywhere are named after Fascists or antifascists. There are references to d’Annunzio everywhere. There’s some photos here of some of these monuments, in Redupuglia, Trieste, the Val Di Risondra and elsewhere.

But as I said, I don’t speak Italian and was only there for two weeks.

Melania Trump was born in Novo Mesto, a city in Slovenia which was part of first Fascist Italy, then the Third Reich in World War II. Her father was a Yugoslav Communist Party member, from a village which has three large mass graves from the struggle against the Fascists and Nazis. She went to school and first worked in Lubljana, a city full of references to the fight against Fascism. She started her modelling career there before moving on to Milan, the city where Mussolini was executed after a mass uprising against the Nazis and Fascists. She speaks Italian.

Let me repeat that: Melania Trump speaks Italian.

When you add to this the fact that Fascists have just had an electoral victory in Italy, that there are active Fascist street movements everywhere there today, actively resurrecting and using the Fascist slogans and mottos of the 1920s and ’30’s (including “I Don’t Really Care”), that admirers of these movements have worked and do work in the White House, from Steve Bannon to Sebastian Gorka to Stephen Miller, and that Zara, the jacket manufacturer has previously been controversial for producing a swastika themed handbag and a shirt with a concentration camp Jewish star on it, it is impossible for me to think that this signalling was not intentional.

Some may think the jacket is a distraction from the very real threats facing our country and world right now, from scapegoating of vulnerable immigrants and refugees to the stripping of the social safety net and the destruction of workplace and environmental protections. I firmly believe it is not. The First Lady of the United States, who grew up in the heartland of symbolic contestation over Fascist symbols and mottos, wore a Fascist message jacket from a company with a history of Fascist messaging.

I care about that very, very much.

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