In his letter to the editor published in the Halloween issue, Greg Williams (“It Has Happened Here,” 10/31) cites the 1919 Fascist Manifesto, which contains some very socialist-sounding proposals, in a lame attempt to equate socialism with fascism.
Like modern Republicans trying to convince African Americans to vote Republican because Lincoln abolished slavery, Williams ignores subsequent developments in Mussolini’s Italy. As Wikipedia puts it: “Of the Manifesto’s proposals, the commitment to corporative organization of economic interests was to be the longest lasting. Far from becoming a medium of extended democracy, parliament became by law an exclusively Fascist-picked body in 1929; being replaced by the ‘chamber of corporations’ a decade later.”
Williams also conveniently overlooks Mussolini’s ultimate rejection of socialism and advocacy of violence against socialists. Once in power, Il Duce saw to it that socialists and Communists were expelled from Parliament, and either prosecuted them or sentenced them to internment camps.
And, yes, Franklin Roosevelt indeed threatened to “pack” the Supreme Court because of its stubborn opposition to popular New Deal legislation. Roosevelt had been re-elected in a landslide but, just as we are witnessing today, the Republican-dominated court did everything they could to block the will of the people.
FDR’s court-packing threat was unpopular, even among many Democrats, and was defeated. Fortunately, following this battle, one justice chose to stop blocking administration policies, and Roosevelt was later able to appoint more justices to the court.
Despite the “court-packing” scandal, the American people went on to elect FDR for two more terms.