By Mike La Sorte, Professor Emeritus
Art Buchwald (1925-2007) was a noted American humorist. His newspaper column focused on political satire and commentary. What follows is my take-off on one of his columns (4-10-1973), with the above title. Every time a newspaper does a piece on the Mafia, as one did fairly recently in my local paper, one not only hears from me but also hundreds of true-blue Italoamericans who are put off and angry that only Italians are mentioned. So Mafia sells newspapers. Good. Then why are we not getting royalties from the Godfather Saga flicks? Somebody is making a quick buck that should be ours: I would settle for 51%. This business for too long has been perpetuating an ugly ethnic stereotype, which is insulting, defamatory and downright cheap. Pray tell, what other American ethnic receives such a one-sided press?
I have put in many sweaty hours on the issue. The Italians get no respect because they got what it takes and others don’t. Then the obvious solution hit me right the middle of a successful scam: Share the wealth. Come on board. Stop perpetuating an irritating stereotype. We invented “This thing of ours.” Be generous. Open employment to those who don’t got what it takes. Other ethnics should have the privilege of getting on board. Fill the gaps with a compulsory draft. Spread the wealth to those sorry suckers. Only Sicilians need apply? This is America: No discrimination by sex, ethnicity, color or low IQ! Come feed at the trough.
Think about it: For all the time the Mafia has been in the United States it has been in violation of the law. If the Mafia was only a social club, it would have the privilege of who could and who couldn’t pledge. In the case of Mafia, a closed door attitude is surely un-American. Why should only Paisani have all the fun? Only Italians need apply is surely un-American. I am sure that those of Icelandic, Bhutanese and Serbian ancestry would savor an illegal buck like we do, probably even more. Keep in mind that the immigrants knew full well while being rushed through the immigration station at Ellis Island that America was known as THE LAND OF THE DOLLAR, no holds bared and may the best win. Italians especially took that promise seriously, in short creating profit-producing racketeering enterprises. To put it simply, they joined with those Protestant Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock, saw the land of plenty and got plenty rich. Those damn Yankees got nothing on us. Inventing the American Mafia was our first step toward acceptance and respect. Face it folks, with our enduring work ethic America has become great again. So back off. And stop complaining.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to get rich fast,
The retched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these the homeless, the tempest-tost to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door. (With apologies to Emma Lazarus)
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