You might have heard whispered from time to time that I once said something so horrible on the radio that, after 28 years of making the program every week for Maine people (as an eager volunteer; i.e., without a cent of pay), I was kicked off the air for making seditious talk that had no place on a Friday night jazz show.

Italian Fascists cheer and raise their rifles to their leader, dictator and Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, not pictured, during an October 1927 review of Fascists. At every step of the building of a nationwide party organization, Mussolini claimed to be the defender of law and order. Associated Press, File

After a unique four years, culminating in the events of Jan. 6, now might be a good time to repeat what I said.  Although a few Maine people were horrified and enraged when they heard me read a definition of fascism on the air, I don’t believe my inflammatory words have ever been printed in a newspaper of record.

It happened like this: For years I opened the Encyclopedia Britannica at random and used what turned up for one of the 10 or so humorous or educational “rants” that were always sandwiched in around music by the likes of Garner or Clark Terry. One day it opened to what you see below, so most of the words found to be so offensive are not mine. Composing this “rant” required no thought, but the simple ability to transfer something from one piece of paper to another. Plagiarism.

If you think you can stomach the Encyclopedia Britannica, read what I said on Aug. 25, 2006:

“While reading in my Encyclopedia Britannica about Salvatore Quasimodo, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959, I also learned that fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, extreme nationalism, anti-liberalism, militarism and authoritarianism. Unfortunately, fascism is much like streptococcus bacilli: Most of us don’t even know it when we see it and even specialists in the field might quibble over a comprehensive definition.

“Because I have recently not only been forced to take off my shoes before boarding a plane but have been patted down to strip me of my toothpaste and Bag Balm – arguably meaningless symbolic gestures implemented to acclimate a population to mindless obedience – I read further, hoping to learn to identify fascism and thereby determine if it could be gaining a foothold in this land of the free and the home of the brave.

“Around 1921 an Italian prime minister named Giovanni Giolitti permitted the usual government influence on elections by corruption. This gave Benito Mussolini and members of his fledgling Fascist Party a slight edge and they immediately attacked Giolitti for his support of the League of Nations (a world government organization) and for his belief in the methods of parliamentary democracy. Gradually building up a nationwide party organization containing extreme undesirables, the Fascists nearly always had more money than their opponents and moved with greater ruthlessness, although at every step, Mussolini claimed to be the defender of law and order.

“The industrialists were naturally in sympathy with a movement that stood for lower wages and fat, padded contracts. Although the economy had improved, it was to their advantage to create the impression that without fascism, economic breakdown was right around the corner, caused by Socialist incompetence.

“The uneducated were naturally receptive to Fascist propaganda, and disorderly elements on every level of society welcomed the violence and its attendant opportunity to plunder. Even then, it was not the strength of the Fascists that ensured their success but the disorganization and silence of their opponents in the intellectual community. Italians discovered only much later that handing over power to people who claimed to be protecting their country with murder and openly proclaimed their contempt of parliamentary institutions would cost their country dear.

“For years there was no overt establishment of dictatorship. Only gradually were old ways and old institutions changed and nothing was done abruptly that might alarm people or make them realize that a revolution had taken place. The wealthy were courted by cutting their taxes. For permission to become rich and corrupt, the gerarchi (party officials) supported their leader’s irresponsible decisions. The inefficiency and graft of his department heads were accepted as inevitable.

“When an Italian was killed by bandits in the Balkans, Mussolini and other indignant, patriotic profit-seeking Italians had their long-hoped-for excuse to go to war. To his credit, until they strung him up by the heels, Mussolini’s self-confidence never waned and he continued to have a pathetic trust in his own powers of intuition, even after plunging his country into that disastrous war for which he was obviously so unprepared.

“As you know, the Encyclopedia Britannica is a fat volume, there is much more in there about the rise of fascism in Italy, but a continuation and refining of my studies would be no more than an unproductive, academic exercise. Because, in reading the few paragraphs above, you can see that my premise was shaky: Nothing that I have copied there could suggest a parallel between the rise of fascism in Italy in the 1920s and what is happening in our country today.

“You may sleep well tonight. It simply couldn’t happen here.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:
www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html


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