So this weekend, premier league strugglers, Sunderland fired their manager Martin O’Neill and replaced him with self-declared fascist, Paolo Di Canio. Now, I know you’re going to say, “but what does it matter, as long as Sunderland stay up?”
You may not worry about the man’s political views, but when those same views (held by others) are responsible for the deaths of millions of people (Jews, Gypsies, etc) I think we should be concerned. And they concerned former foreign secretary, David Miliband – himself of Jewish extraction – so much that he resigned from the Sunderland board immediately. Apparently, that’s an overreaction. It’s lead to calls for Di Canio to “clarify” his political beliefs.
Firstly, it amuses me how they legitimise an anti-democratic, racist ideology by referring to them as beliefs. Now, before you all come squealing at me “he’s not a racist, he said so”, I’ll just remind you that one characteristic of fascism is demonisation of a scapegoat. This can be a political scapegoat, like communists, but is often an ethnic group or foreigners in general. Just look at Golden Dawn in Greece for an example of this.
(If you want to read more of fascism’s characteristics, here’s a good link)
Secondly, while some are concerned about an extremist at the helm of a premiership football club, others are wondering what’s the big deal. After all, it’s only his political views. What’s worrying about the second attitude is the disregard for the dangers of what an extremist ideology can do, and also the disrespect shown to all those who fought and died fighting fascism in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. It follows the growing popularity of extremist organisations across Europe – The National Front in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, the English Defence League – which are responding to the economic crisis by blaming migrants, specifically North African/South Asian migrants, for the mess the banks caused. Where will it end? Views that were once considered repulsive, are slowly becoming acceptable and popular among a section of society.
As Pastor Martin Niemoller once wrote;
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
One day, fascist ideology will have made such progress into society that there will be no one left who is shocked and repulsed by it.