I would like to voice my disappointment at my newspaper for distributing Mein Kampf yesterday, and I do thank the editor for allowing me to express what I feel and think without any pretense on his pages, as usual.
I look at the cover of Mein Kampf, the red stripe, the black swastika, and they reek of death. I do not like my newspaper giving out this disgusting item. To my eyes, it recalls a thousand images and nothing else – Auschwitz, the Jewish children showing the number on their arm, the dead piled up on wagons and in ditches, and it cannot be anything different. There is neither culture, nor history, but just death, murder, and genocide.
No matter how much that book may be studied, as its historical significance is factual, not cultural. It speaks of my own death (if only I was there at that time) and the death of my Polish grandfather, his wife, my Polish and Italian uncles and little children.
Reading its miserable pages is unequivocal: you encounter the reiterated idea of the necessary extermination of the Jews and the excitement with which the German world embraced such a goal. So many intellectuals, philosophers, writers, and musicians fell prey to the fascination of connecting mass murder with a territorial expansion policy for the search of the German “living space”.
This text is not dead nowadays. Hundred thousands of copies are downloaded on the internet, and it circulates plentifully in the Arab world, side by side with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a best seller among Palestinians. Golda Meir used to tell that copies of the Protocols were found in the backpacks of Egyptian soldiers in 1956, and those who enter an Arab bookstore today will almost surely notice it.
To be clear, I would prefer my newspaper not to be associated with this book, even if the editor Alessandro Sallusti explained thoroughly his anti-Nazi motivations in the front page column (“you have to know evil to be able to fight it”), supported by the distribution of William Shirer’s text, a classic of the interpretation of Nazism, and by the introduction of Francesco Perfetti, a prominent anti-Fascist historian. Myself, I wish to reiterate for the sake of honesty what I have already stated several times: I refuse the legal criminalization of the filthy Shoa denial. Even such a perversion must be expressed, read, narrated, and interpreted. The enemy must be defeated in the war of ideas, not in the courtroom.
There is no text in the world, not even the most repulsive, that must be burned, and there is no idea that should be closed behind bars, not even the most gloomy. I say it as a person on whose chest a satirical cartoonist applied a Star of David and a fascist symbol, and who is portrayed by the social networks of the anti-Semitic right and left as one of the leaders of the tentacular Zionist international conspiracy.
Moreover, the most active Nazi genocidal anti-Semitism is not the one of the nauseating, boring, and confusing Mein Kampf – and I would like to know how many people usually keep reading it beyond the first two pages, unless they are already driven by fanaticism. James Surowiecky writes on the New Yorker that it is no more than a miserable chapbook revealing who Hitler was indeed: just a dull, bitter, envious, and traumatized loser.
Today’s danger is to be found, unfortunately, in a thousand lurid cartoons whereby the Jews-Zionists form a single evil entity, with the nose, nails, and rockets as by the Nazi tradition, and the mouth dripping the blood of slaughtered children. I could show the images I am referring to one by one, but I have seen nobody standing up around here, in Europe, shouting that this is unacceptable.
However, the major risk of a forbidden text is to make it a universal taboo that clandestine masses still read in secret, with computers downloading thousands and thousands of copies. Do not hide it instead: if you launch the book into the air, it has more chance of being riddle with shots in a confrontation of ideas.
So do not hide it. Certainly, my newspaper must now be ready to show and distribute the charter of ISIS or Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book, doing the same critical exercise. No moral or numerical comparison here. I am just speaking of horrible books.
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale ( 12 June, 2016)