Benito Mussolini

I wish I could have found a better version of this famous clip, or at least one with sound.  But the seventeen seconds of clownish facial expressions here capture perfectly how, their terrifying capacity for evil aside, people like Mussolini are always ludricrous creatures.

On this day in 1922 Benito Mussolini became prime minister of Italy.

Frye in “Two Italian Sketches, 1939” describes ascending to a mountain village in the hope that he might be allowed to “forget about Mussolini for a few hours”:

When we get there we find, however, that the town has been made into a “national monument” and Mussolini’s plug-ugly sourpuss is plastered all over it.  His epigrams, too.  For every conspicuous piece of white wall in Italy is covered with mottoes in black letters from his speeches and obiter dicta–the successor to the obsolete art of fresco-painting.  One of them says, with disarming simplicity, “Mussolini is always right.”  “The olive tree has gentle and soft leaves, but its wood is harsh and rough,” says another more cryptically.  “War is to man what maternity is to woman,” says a third.  “The best way to preserve peace is to prepare for war,” says a fourth, and it looks just as silly in Italian as it does in English.  Another one of the few not of Mussolini’s authorship reads: “Duce! We await your orders.”  Up here they present us with “We shoot straight.” (CW 11, 189)

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