The recent victory of a conservative bloc led by Giorgia Meloni says much about Italy’s current political climate. It also speaks volumes about the attitudes of Americans. The fact that elite opinion would so quickly condemn a right-wing woman such as Meloni — set to become Italy’s first female prime minister — as a fascist while praising mediocre left-wing female politicians reveals a striking hypocrisy among the chattering class.
In covering the election results, multiple national outlets called Meloni Italy’s “most far-right prime minister since Mussolini” — despite the fact that Mussolini’s statism would repel most true conservatives. Other publications used a separate term associated with Il Duce, dubbing Meloni a fascist. And when Hillary Clinton tried to recognize the historic nature of Italy electing its first female prime minister, the Atlantic quickly pivoted back to the fascist tag, saying “Meloni would also represent continuity with Italy’s darkest episode: the interwar dictatorship of Benito Mussolini,” dubbing it “not such a good thing.”
Why the media uproar over Meloni’s election? In large part because she doesn’t share the media’s woke values. As a committed Christian, Meloni holds pro-life values, believes in traditional marriage, and opposes efforts to impose an LGBT agenda. She has taken a strong stand against the waves of illegal migrants who have come from Africa since 2015. And Meloni opposed the harsh COVID-19 lockdowns that crushed economies and led to so much hardship and grief the world over.
In other words, Meloni has taken positions contrary to elite media opinion on practically every single issue of importance. Little wonder, then, that members of the legacy media — most of whom have little detailed knowledge of Italian politics — respond in kind by tagging her with the fascist label, the better to demonize her and what she stands for.
By contrast, compare the way those same elite media outlets have treated Vice President Kamala Harris over the past several years. The then-California senator announced her candidacy for president in January 2019 but ended it later that year. After an ignominious end to her campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden selected her as his vice presidential nominee, in part because he had pledged to choose a woman for that post. Harris’s efforts as vice president have proven as ineffective as her presidential campaign, with the continued crossings by thousands of illegal aliens demonstrating that her efforts to control the causes of migration have failed — and rendering her statements that “the border is secure” demonstrably false.
Given all that, how has the press treated Harris? By and large, with fawning adoration and praise. Last January, CNN profiled her “historic first days” as vice president. Other stories noted how she “provides inspiration” and serves as a “symbol of hope for many” — even though her presidential campaign proved so uninspiring that she dropped out before a single state primary or caucus. The stories in the days surrounding Harris’s election and inauguration proved far more charitable than those Meloni has seen since her victory.
And if someone criticizes Harris, how do cultural elites respond? On The View, host Sunny Hostin blamed Harris’s sex, describing the public’s attitude as, “Let’s come down on the woman who happens to be the first female vice president.” Earlier this year, Kathy Griffin went further, framing the vice president’s perceived lack of electability as based on “misogyny and lies” — as opposed to, say, lingering doubts about Harris’s previous lackluster campaign.
Ironically, the misogyny label — the use of trite stereotypes against women in service of an ideology — more accurately describes the recent treatment of Giorgia Meloni. The press smeared and slandered her in the first days following her historic victory, in large part because she takes political positions contrary to their own. The fact that the media have looked down on Meloni’s views — which represent traditional, commonsense values, not fascist ones — makes her election not just historic but a necessary antidote to the cultural snobbery pervading Western elites.