The power of the Constitution – time.news

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From the racial laws of 1938 to today, intertwining personal, collective memory and reflection on justice. We publish an extract of the dialogue between Gherardo Colombo and Liliana Segre taken from their book The only fault of being born (Garzanti).

Gherardo Colombo: You have spoken very frequently about our Constitution, towards which we share a deep affection. The Constitution that overturns the principle that until then informed the rules of being together: not the rules that could be found in morality, in ethics, but the laws, those destined to concretely regulate, day by day, the life of the community. The first racial law was promulgated on September 5, 1938, and it was the terrible exasperation of a system based on discrimination anyway. Less than eight years have passed and the Constitution began to be written which, which came into force on January 1, 1948 (not even four years after the provisions of the Social Republic on the subject of race), put the exact opposite of being together at the basis of being together. discrimination, that is, the equal dignity of any person.

Liliana Segre (photo Gerace / LaPresse) Holocaust survivor, senator for life

Liliana Segre: The last time I dealt with the subject of the Constitution with the students, I did it by writing a message to those who were about to face maturity, in full Covid-19 emergency. I stressed that we had begun to distance ourselves from discrimination even earlier: in 1946 the first elections after fascism were held and for the first time women also voted, to whom the relative right had been recognized the previous year. Today it seems a foregone conclusion, but at the time it was an amazing novelty for Italy. It meant not only recognizing the right to vote for a half of the population who had always been excluded from it, but also embedding the principle of equality between men and women in a society that was then very backward also in this respect.

Gherardo Colombo (photo Dal Zennaro / Ansa), magistrate for over thirty years, since 2007 he has dedicated himself to reflection on justice with the association Sulle rules
Gherardo Colombo (photo Dal Zennaro / Ansa), magistrate for over thirty years, since 2007 he has dedicated himself to reflection on justice with the association Sulle rules

Gherardo Colombo: In fact … The vote for women had been recognized in New Zealand in 1893, and in Europe the first nation to adopt universal suffrage, Finland, did so in 1906. After France and Italy in 1946, it was the turn of the Belgium, in 1948, of Greece, in 1952 and of Switzerland, in 1971. That then gender equality, solemnly proclaimed by the Constitution, was immediately respected or not another discourse. Women, for example, were only able to enter the judiciary starting from 1963, and they actually entered it (in a small group of eight) only in 1965; the crime of female adultery (the male correspondent did not exist) was declared illegitimate by the Constitutional Court at the end of 1968; her husband continued to be the head of the family until 1975. Even today, not all gender discrimination, especially de facto, has been eliminated. the path of changing the fundamentals of culture is long and full of obstacles.

Liliana Segre: Of course, and then the first, essential steps were taken, the ones that set up the whole journey. Those first elections, in fact, gave birth to the Constituent Assembly: this is, in my opinion, the highest point in republican history. The constituents were men and women tempered by very hard struggles and divided among themselves by rigid ideological affiliations, yet they were able to reach a wonderful compromise: our Constitutional Charter, which came into force in 1948. In the Italian Constitution a meeting point was found between the best of cultures expressed by the parties of that time. And the constituent fathers and mothers also had the humility to seek help from some writers to make the articles of that Charter more harmonious and comprehensible to all.

Gherardo Colombo: They considered it essential that the Constitution be understood by everyone, also looking at the many citizens who, at the time, were illiterate. That they understood at least the fundamental principles, which the Constitution then translates into the articles concerning rights and duties and into those that organize the institutions. So they used, as far as possible, simple terms; they did not exceed in the length of the sentences; they did not show off rhetoric. Of course it was not enough, especially then, to read (or be read) the Constitution, those principles were so different from the concrete reality of life.

Liliana Segre: for this reason that today, after more than seventy years from its entry into force, I advise young people to reread, even if it has certainly already been the subject of further study in class, the very first part of the Constitution, the one that contains the foundations, on their own, without mediation. In my opinion, one cannot but love that text, which is at the same time essential, powerful and unifying.

Gherardo Colombo: Unfortunately, it was not frequent that it was a subject of lessons, except (and not always) in elementary schools (today primary), at an age in which it is difficult to acquire a systematic vision of the Constitution, to be able to understand that it is a whole, of a all one, of the starting point from which comes, if observed, if applied, the effective possibility of living in harmony, without anyone trampling on others, exploiting them, and without anyone being trampled on or exploited. While the systematic vision necessary to be able to understand it, the Constitution. I hope, and I wish all of us, that thanks to the law (20 August 2019, n.92) which introduces the school teaching of civic education, the situation will change profoundly, and children of all ages can become familiar with ours. first law, the one that contains the mandatory principles of living together. I say this despite the fact that I think that in a normal country, I mean without such a high debt towards compliance with the rules deriving from the Constitution, it would not be necessary to introduce a specific discipline, because respect for others and the exclusion of discrimination should derive from the careful exposition that could be made of it in curricular subjects. You can imagine how much justice could be conveyed to kids by illustrating them The betrothed!

Liliana Segre: For my part, I constantly invite young people to imagine what those thoughts, those real commandments represented in our fundamental Charter that had just been approved: freedom, equality, rights, equal dignity, respect, solidarity. After what I had seen and experienced in the previous ten years, I really could have said story is about you: about you who are talked about in this fable. But the Constitution does not speak only of me, in the sense that if it had existed then it would not have happened to me to undergo everything I have suffered. The Constitution also speaks of them, of the children, and of their parents, of the teachers, of the school world and also of all the other people who live in our community.

Gherardo Colombo: In fact, each of us is the protagonist of the Constitution.

2021, GARZANTI SRL, MILAN

The four-handed volume. Legality and justice

The words of Liliana Segre, the analysis of Gherardo Colombo. The only fault of being born (Garzanti) it starts from the racial laws of ’38 and reaches today, exploring, among other things, the difference between justice and legality. The reconstruction is precise, sometimes surprising, as in the case of the exponents of the Vatican secretariat of state who suggested to the Badoglio government to go easy on the repeal of the racial laws. Colombo presents the book on January 24 at 11.30 on the Facebook page of the Memorial of the Shoah in Milan with Michele Sarfatti and Marco Vigevani

January 20, 2021 (change January 24, 2021 | 19:56)

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