Stereotype This! Debunking Hollywood's Italian Stereotypes and Myths Stereotype This!  Debunking Hollywood's Italian Stereotypes and Myths Stereotype This! Debunking Hollywood's Italian Stereotypes and Myths
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Media Hypocrisy Printable version

Columnist is Right on Media Hypocrisy
(from the Daily Herald of January 29, 2006)

I thank John Zimmerman for his eloquent column condeming media hypocrisy via Joey "The Clown" Lombardo's court appearance.

As a national association of Italian-American educators (yes, folks, believe it or not, millions of us occupy this "white collar" profession), we frequently discuss the literary use of irony in our classrooms nationwide. And, certainly, ironies upon ironies abound whenever the subject is organized crime. Here are just a few:

1) As Mr. Zimmerman noted, reporters are suddently imbued with moral courage whenever Italian gamblers or petty thugs are arrested. Indeed, many reporters make a point of following these guys around in public, trying to goad them.

Funny, but these same reporters never use the same tactics via terrorists, drug cartel bosses or street gang members. Reporting zeal becomes a squeal.

2) A local FBI official, asked what made Joey Lombardo so dangerous, replied "that he could have people killed."

As some of our students would say, "Well, duh!" The same is true of (again) terrorists, drug cartel bosses and street gang members--not to mention mob bosses from other ethnic groups (Asian gangs, Russian mafia, Irish gangsters, etc.) Why a "special status" for killers with Italian last names?

Joey "the Clown" Lombardo vs. Osama "the Terrorist" bin-Laden, you decide!
Which Thug is the Real Danger to America?

3) As much as the media pooh-poohs the "Hollywoodization" of serious news, they themselves are guilty of this very concept when it comes to mythologizing Italian gangsters via front-page newspaper coverage or hyped-up TV news footage. As reporter Carol Marin breathlessly put it in a column last week, "The courtroom was packed!"

Where were all of these reporters at the trial of Jose Padilla, the American accused of aiding al-Qaeda--a much more deadly organized crime operation, run by an international boss of all bosses, Osama bin-Laden?

4) And, in perhaps the most cutting irony of all, Americans of Italian descent have an extremely low crime rate--indeed there are more Italian American policemen and lawyers than there are mob bosses. And the chief criminal gangs in Italy itself are Albanian and Asian gangs, not the so-called Mafia.

In the late 1980s, before he entered politics, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, then the U.S. attorney, chided the major media organizations for focusing so intently on Italian organized crime groups at the expense of 24 others which his office regularly prosecuted. Obviously, no one listened.

As long as the media can milk the "alien conspiracy" theory for all it's worth, (i.e., "only Italians=organized crime"), why not run with it? It's so much easier to exploit popular prejudice rather than dig around for the facts.

Bill Dal Cerro
National Vice President
Italic Institute of America
Midwest Office
Chicago
Presented by Bill Dal Cerro   Copyright 2001