Forum

Giorgia Meloni and the media

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

After a historic national election in Italy, the Monday, Sept. 26 results showed a clear victory for a right-wing coalition led by the Brothers of Italy party. The victory made it almost certain that its leader Giorgia Meloni would be Italy’s first female prime minister.

The victory has reverberated globally and is a contentious topic of conversation in the United States, not because Meloni would be the first female prime minister but because of her alleged fascist beliefs. “Far-right,” “fascist,” and “extremist” are some of the most common malapropisms that have been thrown around recently. But is it fair to characterize Meloni as such?

It is hard to trust the American media when so much of it is in the custody of extreme narratives on the left and the right. It seems as though whenever the left-facing media identifies someone who does not follow their agenda, they try to silence them by censoring or associating them with a universally objectionable ideology like fascism. That is not to say that the far-right media does not do the same. They are guilty of using similar sensationalist tactics.

So when Meloni and the Brothers of Italy won the election, the response was predictable, to say the least. The left screamed “fascist.” But when you use a term like “fascist” so often, it begins to lose meaning and deflects from the real issues at hand. I am not arguing that there are no fascists in Italian politics, but evidence supports that Meloni does not fit the bill.

Giorgia Meloni is a capable woman who has traditional values. Some policies of hers are ones that Americans may not support or find questionable. Of course, using the slogan “G-d, Family, and Country” made her the subject of much criticism, drawing comparisons to WWII-era fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, which is an outrageous comparison. It is a cheap and ignorant shot. Additionally, the use of “far-right” to describe Meloni is also frustrating since she is really “center-right” on the majority of issues.

One of the issues is that left-wing media has done a good job at releasing a flurry of articles to defame Meloni. A simple Google search would lead one to believe that Meloni is the second coming of Mussolini. But why is it more difficult to find unbiased reporting on Meloni’s views? An explanation: censorship.

For example, YouTube removed videos from 2019 of Meloni for simply discussing her views. After receiving criticism, YouTube reversed course and re-uploaded the videos. When people watched the videos, they saw that her remarks were aligned with common new-right political views.

Big tech should not make learning about Meloni’s views harder. The issue lies in the media with how they do not allow people to make an informed decision as they are so quick to brand someone.

Yes, Meloni’s political views are conservative, and some are sure to inflame her opponents. She has strict policies against illegal immigration and believes in the idea of a “traditional family.” These are hot-button issues in the Catholic country, and they become talking points in countries that are following from afar, such as the United States, where the issues resonate differently. Context is not part of the resulting coverage when it is easier to lazily brand someone.

It would also be irresponsible of me to ignore that her party does have its roots in fascism. Again, context is required as it is complicated to understand because Italy’s political history is much different from that of the United States. It is also different from that of Germany. Unlike Germany, which has rid itself of Hitlerism, Italian politics have not yet moved past Mussolini. The Mussolini family is still politically involved. Rachele Mussolini, one of Mussolini’s grandchildren, is an elected member of the Brothers of Italy.

Sometimes, far-right members in the United States accuse individuals of being communists. However, hardly anyone in American mainstream politics genuinely presents themselves as a communist. In Italy, there are real communists, a part of prominent communist parties. In the same way, there are parties descended from communist parties; likewise, there are parties that are descended from fascist parties. That is a part of Italian history. No one can deny that. But Meloni said her party is no longer fascist.

Italy’s tumultuous political history can be hard for Americans to understand. Despite the fact it is a woman fronting a party that had no representation in the last governmental coalition, rivals are now disputing her credentials as a woman, dubbing her “anti-woman” because her feminism is allegedly subpar.

Yet, there has been pushback from the unlikeliest of sources; her liberal opponent, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who spoke in Meloni’s defense: “Personally, I was against Giorgia Meloni. I’m not her best friend. We are rivals, but she is not a danger to democracy. The idea there is a risk of fascism in Italy is absolutely fake news.”

These accusations no longer work, as evidenced by the fact that the Italian public voted for Meloni. They voted for her in spite of everything that was said about her. Why? Because she relates to traditional Italian values and identifies as a mother, a Catholic, an Italian, and wants what is best for the Italian people. Meloni is gutsy, and she needs to be so for the needs of the Italians, especially in the poorer South, which is too often neglected by the ruling parties of the North.

Because Italian governments are coalitions, Meloni will be forced to have more moderate views. Meloni is a fresh look that has the potential to bring the other parties together. Her party ran on a platform of change for a country that has had a hard time agreeing on a unified vision.

The coalition system makes it so others will be brought in and heard. This fact alone should be reassuring to those concerned about a right-wing stronghold. Rather than rushing to judgment, it's time the media lets the facts speak for themselves instead of being so quick to brand someone without providing context. Too many coalitions in Italy have struggled to last more than five minutes. She needs to be given a chance to succeed.