ROME: The killing of two Senegalese migrants in Florence just before Christmas has triggered a court case by the daughter of American poet Ezra Pound demanding the Casa Pound movement stop using her father's name.
The poet's 88-year-old daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz, who lives in northern Italy, has brought the action because Gianluca Casseri, the Florentine responsible for the murders, was a sympathiser of the local Casa Pound (Pound House) Movement. After killing the two Senegalese men and wounding three others, Casseri committed suicide. The murders brought 20,000 people on to the streets of Florence to condemn racism.
Ms Rachewiltz said she wants to prevent Casa Pound, which she describes as a "politically compromised organisation", using her father's name. The court case is due to open tomorrow.
But Casa Pound has itself deplored the Florentine murders, and denied racism.
Rejecting the Casa Pound denial, Giannantonio Stella, author of a book on racism, said that, contrary to the past, today's racists rarely admitted it. "Casa Pound is an extreme right-wing organisation, which denies being racist but attracts many racist sympathisers," he said.
Founded in Rome in 2003, the movement has opened branches in central-north Italy. It engages in cultural debates, has web TV and web radio stations, several publications, and sporting and musical activities.
It says it chose to use Ezra Pound's name because of a statement attributed to him: "If a man is not prepared to give his life for an ideal, either the man is worth nothing, or the ideal." The movement shares Pound's belief that international finance strangles nations and individuals.
Its platform does not mention anti-Semitism, but Pound went from deploring usury to blaming Jews who he claimed were responsible for it.
Pound, who moved to Italy in 1925, enthusiastically supported the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and in an interview after World War II he spoke of Adolf Hitler as "a Joan of Arc, a saint and martyr".
After the war the US tried him for high treason; he was judged insane and confined to a mental asylum-hospital for 13 years. On release he returned to live in Italy until his death in 1972.
Given his documented fascist views, it is not clear on what basis Ms Rachewiltz will show that association of her father's name with the Casa Pound movement discredits him.
The deputy editor of Corriere Della Sera, Pierluigi Battista, finds it unrealistic to deny Pound's fascist sympathies.
"We can't ignore the ugly aspects of Pound and insist only on the good ones. We have to acknowledge that as well as being a great poet he said and wrote some monstrous stupidities."