The Italian government lays itself open to some obvious taunts when it tries to establish a journalistic cordon sanitaire between Italy and England by banning all but three English newspapers from Italy and withdrawing the Italian newspaper correspondents from London. But the English journals which wax selfrighteous over this action must bear a large measure of responsibility for it. It must be a long time since they have manifested even the most elementary fairness in dealing with things Italian and they have virtually coined a new term of abuse by using the Italian term Fascist as a general term of abuse to denote almost any policy or politician that could displease a left-wing atheist. So far have they carried this bias that they violate not only the moral law but even the established conventions of journalism—our news columns last week recorded a gross example of this in the similar case of General Franco's government.
The effects of criticism of this kind and of Italian reactions to it arc of more than journalistic importance. If at any time during the past two years diplomatic relations between the British and Italian governments had reached breaking point— and there were many moments when they might have done so—there was enough popular feeling generated on either side to have swept both nations off their feet and plunged them into a fight to a finish. The relaxation of tension caused by the signing of the Anglo-Italian naval agreement was only momentary, and the steady development of Mussolini's project for something like a Mediterranean empire for Italy is creating a situation which causes more real perturbation to the British government than did the ethics of his Abyssinian campaign. The extent to which he has been cultivating German friendship in order to eliminate distractions in Central Europe adds to the diplomatic difficulties of the situation from the official British point of view. All these facts constitute the strongest possible reason for trying very hard to understand the point of view and the ambitions of Italy before abusing them and for doing nothing to make an unbiassed examination of the outlook more difficult than it is.