I’ve had people ask me why I get so angry over certain kinds of posts. It’s because I’m not stupid, I know how to read, I know my history.
You say: “Syrian” I hear: “Italian”
You say: “Muslim” I hear: “Catholic”
You say: “We shouldn’t let those Middle Eastern Muslims into this country. Their cultural values are too different from ours, they’ll never assimilate. Anyway, they owe their allegiance to Islam, not America. They want to impose Islamic laws and religion on us. They’re nothing but a murderous bunch of gang-raping violent terrorist thugs; if they aren’t full fledged members of ISIS then they’re supporting them and they won’t tell the police about Al-Q’aeda activity. Their culture hates women and exploits children. What have they ever contributed to the world except crime and bloodshed? Send ‘em all back where they came from!”
I hear: “We shouldn’t let those Italian Catholics into this country. Their cultural values are too different from ours, they’ll never assimilate. Anyway, they owe their allegiance to the Catholic church, not America. They want to impose Catholic laws and religion on us. They’re nothing but a murderous bunch of gang-raping violent terrorist thugs; if they aren’t full fledged members of the Mafia they’re supporting them and they won’t tell the police about Mafia activity. Their culture hates women and exploits children. What have they ever contributed to the world except crime and bloodshed? Send ‘em all back where they came from!”
Think I’m exaggerating?
To this day prejudice exists against Italians, not necessarily the vile bigotry of the late 19th and early 20th century, but prejudice nonetheless
Who are the most famous Italians in America?
The Corleones and the Sopranos.
When Americans think of Italians, they usually think of the mob, the Black Hand, “the La Cosa Nostra”*, not the scientists and the scholars and the explorers and the engineers and the artists and the composers and the musicians and the poets and the writers and the film makers.
“The mass media has consistently ignored five centuries of Italian American history, and has elevated what was never more than a minute subculture to the dominant Italian American culture.” -- "Hollywood vs Italians", The Italic Way, a publication of The Italic Institute of America, Vol XXVII, 1997
Wow! Does that sound familiar?!?!?
So, yeah, I get a little short tempered when I hear somebody ranting and raving against “them” because what I hear instead of “them” is “your mother” or “your grandchildren” or “your cousins” or “your wife”.
I can’t be around my family 24/7 to protect them. All I can do is be willing to stand up for others who are the targets of bigotry and defend them against hatred and ignorance when I see it. It would be great if those whom we defend would then in turn defend us and ours when we are threatened, but truth be told, we don’t really need that kind of quid pro quo.
It’s enough that some ignoramuses spreading the hate start to look over their shoulder, wondering if they’re going to get called out for posting unverified nonsense.
If all I can do is make those people have second thoughts before posting -- at the very least making sure they have their facts straight before sharing a hate bomb -- then I’ve helped turn back the dial on hatred and prejudice just a smidge.
If that’s all I can do, that’s all I can do.
But I’ll do it.
I know who my friends are.
And I know who my enemies are.
* Literally “The The Our Thing” to use the terminology of ignorant anti-Italian-American bigots who heard criminals euphemistically refer to “this thing of ours” when discussing gang activities and assumed “cosa [thing] nostra [ours]” was a proper name.