Most readers are probably aware by now that Santa Ana Councilmember, Claudia Alvarez, has been the subject of many articles and news programs concerning her recent anti-Semitic remarks directed at a couple of Santa Ana business owners. In the aftermath, she has apologized to the people of Santa Ana, the Jewish community and the ADL. Of course, the people she hasn’t apologized to are the ones she should have started with, the Chases who were the target of her remarks in a public meeting. The Liberal OC has written a couple of articles concerning the matter and has been vocal about Alvarez and the Santa Ana Council’s failure to act against her on behalf of the citizens of Santa Ana.
Well, that stirred up a hornet’s nest because, as you may also know, Dan frequently writes about Tustin and the antics of our esteemed mayor, Jerry Amante. He often calls Jerry, who is of Italian (Sicilian, really) descent, “Il Duce”. This has rankled the writers of the New Santa Ana blog who have written a hit piece on Dan for his use of the nickname because it has been attributed in the past to the infamous Benito Mussolini. Their assertion is that Mussolini was a mass murderer and they infer that he was part of the “ethnic cleansing” that took place in that part of the world against the Jews. Well, sort of.
It is true that Mussolini liked to be called “Il Duce”. So, his friends called him that. It has never been shown that it was widely used by the people except maybe in fear of the dictator and his henchmen. It is also true that he was a mass murderer and committed war crimes.
What isn’t true is that he was part of the ethnic cleansing. In fact:
Things began to change in 1938 for Italian Jews. Mussolini, in his craven desire to please the Fuhrer, initiated a comprehensive anti-Semitic campaign at the urging of the Nazis, including miscegenation laws and a media campaign against Jews. Jews were forbidden to teach in schools. Foreign Jews living as refugees in Italy were rounded up and confined in internment camps. However, these camps were a lot more like the Japanese-American internment camps than the Nazi death camps.
Thousands of Jews seeking refuge went to Italy and Italian-occupied territories because they knew that they were likely to be protected rather than persecuted. In general the Italian people did not buy into the government’s anti-Jewish policies, though Italian intellectuals were curiously silent.
To be clear, The Liberal OC wrote and commented on the issue of Alvarez and her anti-Semitic remarks, not on the general state of the Axis during World War II. The name Mussolini, while infamous, does not carry the same historical stigma that the name of Hitler does. When people think of Hitler, they think of the Holocaust. When they think of Mussolini, they think of the dictator of Italy, an Axis member, and the lackey of Hitler. So, the analogy is a bit of a stretch to say the least. Let’s add to this that Dan’s wife is of Italian descent. He asserts that his use of the word is simply as, “the leader”. In fact, Il Duce means “the leader” or “duke”. I seen no reason to take it otherwise. There is also the matter of the legal issues between Dan and Art Pedroza, the owner of the New Santa Ana blog that is probably the real fuel for this unwarranted attack.
Face it. Nowadays, bloggers are not always nice people. We have our opinions and we let them be known, often in not so nice terms. This blog usually refers to Amante as Boss Tweed and refers to his running of the city as Tammany Hall Tustin. It isn’t meant to denigrate the Irish-Americans that made up that era. It is meant to signify the severity and methods Amante uses in imposing his will on the citizens of this city and the employees of city hall. These digs are meant to entice and keep the reader engaged. And, as was said elsewhere in the blogosphere, Alvarez is a public, elected figure who elected to say what she did in a public forum while representing the community. Dan is a businessman and journalist, representing his own views.
So, if you hear any of the right wing noise from the West whining about this, you know it is just hot, blowing wind. Turn on your air conditioner.