With all the fretting and hand-wringing about how to revitalize the newspaper industry, it’s always good to remember this key piece of advice: Maybe don’t include Mein Kampf in your Saturday supplement. Y’know, we’re just spitballing here, but that seems to be a very, very, very, very, very, (get on with it – gag ed.) bad idea.
The Italian newspaper Il Giornale disagreed with this zany “maybe don’t include Hitler’s biography and belief system in your paper” theory and made the incredibly controversial decision of having an annotated version of Mein Kampf in the Saturday supplement of their paid edition. The newspaper, owned by former prime minister and noted scandal magnet Silvio Berlusconi, has defended their decision as educational and cautionary. The inclusion is billed as a way “to study what is evil to avoid its return.”
“The concerns of our friends of the Italian Jewish community, who always have and always will see us by their side … deserve all our respect,” Reuters reports editor-in-chief Alessandro Sallusti as saying.
That viewpoint is not shared by current Italian PM Matteo Renzi who slammed the Il Giornale‘s decision as squalid.
Trovo squallido che un quotidiano italiano regali oggi il Mein Kampf di Hitler. Il mio abbraccio affettuoso alla comunità ebraica #maipiù
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) June 11, 2016
Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, was also less than impressed by Mein Kampf being part of a newspaper promotion. He characterized the supplement as “indecent,” a “vile act” and light years away from any in-depth learning or study about the Holocaust.”
It’s not exactly breaking news that discussing Adolf Hitler’s ideology in Europe hits an extremely raw nerve (even today), but there’s reason for concern when something like Mein Kampf pops up in a newspaper. Neo-Nazism has an ugly habit of creeping up in the continent and anti-immigration sentiment is alarmingly high at the moment. (To be fair, the rise in anti-immigration sentiment isn’t exclusively a European thing.) Bundling it as “educational” in a newspaper is quite possibly something done with good intentions, but the road to hell and all that.