What do you get when a deconstructionist joins the mafia ?

An offer you can't understand.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Enemies Within

The best book I've read so far on the subject of internment of Italians in Canada during WW2 is a collection of essays edited by Franca Iacovetta, Roberto Perin and Angelo Principe (U of T Press). They effectively demolish the case put forward by Antonino Mazza in his introduction to Duliani's "The City Without Women", in which Mazza claims that the Canadian State essentially created a crime against humanity by interning Italians during the war (Duliani in the "Women" justifies the action and goes out of his way to show how decently the internees were treated.)
Of the approximately 135,000 Italians in Canada during the War only 600 or so were interned, a few of whom were communists, 21 of whom were gangsters. Apparently the Vice-Consuls of Italy, acting on the behest of Mussolini had been actively promoting Fascism in Canada since about 1934 and found a number of true believers, among them a great many reactionaries in the Catholic Church and not all of whom were locked up in 1940.
Duliani himself worked in an editorial office with the head of the Canadian Fascist Party, Adriene Arcand. Of course, Quebec itself was opposed to the war against Fascism, since it was run by reactionary elements in the Church and the state (Maurice Duplessis's reactionary Unione Nationale Party would run that province through his coaltiion of businessmen and churchmen unitl the Quiet Revolution in the 1960's. Just as Spanish fascist dictator General Franco would run Spain for decades after WW2.)
There is no doubt whatsoever that Italian Fascism was alive and well and being nurtured by not only the Catholic Church and the Italian Vice-Consuls, but by the Toronto-based British-Canadian "Empire Club" and people like Lady Eaton and Guelph's internation opera star Edward Johnson and his son-in-law and future right wing premier of Ontario George Drew.
The internment of less than six hundred Italian fascists was far from the extreme measure described by Mazzo, and the redress campaign that led to an apology from Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to the Italian community at large a few decades ago was entirely a Tory propaganda move and buried the role conservatives and Italians played in the nurturing of fascism.
Farley Mowat, the Canadian author, who fought in the Canadian Infantry during the two years it took to liberate Italy, wrote in his searing indictment of the glorification of war And No Birds Sang, pg 4 "French British and US politicians and industrialist...connived at the growth and spread of fascism, concealing their real admiration for it beneath the public explanation that it was the only trust worthy "bulwark against communism."
In Canada the support for fascism was not only the policy of Quebec and much of the conservative party and right wing "Liberals" linked to the Empire Club, but is the one area of hypocrisy Mulroney should have apologized to Italian-Canadians for, since, besides a few moderate liberals, the only people who publicly opposed fascism in Canada were the communists and CCF.
It was only when Mussolini linked his future to Hitler's in June of 1940 that he fell out of favour with conservatives (except in Quebec, where fascism and anti-Semitism were still the order of the day.)
And as Mowat makes abundantly clear in his book My Father's Son, Canadians as a whole thought the war was a great thing because it put an end to the poverty of the Depression: their interest in fighting fascism was extremely limited, which accounts for some of the bizarre positions taken by then Prime Minister MacKenzie King, whose profoundly astute, pre-polling ability to straddle the centre of Canadian politics and then ride his national coalition of moderate and reactionary elements through thick and thin.
And let's face it, Nazism lost the war, fascism is alive and well to his day, and being used as a bulwark against terrorism. The lies go on.

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