A friend brought my attention to a scene from the HBO series 'The Sopranos', which was first aired in 1999. In this scene, the Soprano family was having dinner. That day, the FBI had searched their home, and mob boss "Tony Soprano" was not happy. In the ensuing conversation, in response to their bruised egos apparently, they brought up the names Michelangelo, John Cabot, Mother Cabrini, A.P. Gianinni, and Antonio Meucci. All Northern Italians. Tony even exclaimed that Meucci "wuz robbed" in his forced New Jersey accent. His daughter played the devil's advocate by returning "Who invented the Mafia dad?" and went on about Lucky Luciano, and his organizing of the five families, etc.
At least they were consistent. They got everything wrong. First off, just the use of the name "Soprano" poisons that element of culture within any part of the Italian peninsula. It would be like portraying a bad Jewish family named "Mozaltov." It's outrageous, to say the least.
Second, the actors weren't even of Southern Italian origin, including James Gandolfini, who I was told is of Emilian origin, adding to the incorrigible nature of the scene. So here is this guy, who looks more Irish than Sicilian, carrying on about Italian defamation, and being Northern Italian of all things. Do you see how crazy this is? It actually passes for logic to many people.
Third, Meucci didn't invent the telephone, and we have already covered the fact versus fiction of that already. It's a myth carried on by people who probably wouldn't even identify themselves with Florentines anyway. Interestingly, the scene left out Columbus, Mazzei, Fermi, Verrazano, Marconi, Busti, Beltrami, Vigo, da Nizza, and many other "great Italians" in America who were, in fact, Northern Italians. I know that may irritate some, but look at it from our point of view for once please. Thinking of things from other points of view is part of critical thought, and usually helps one's own grievance as well. I realize that there are other ways of looking at this.
The problem with the issue of Italian defamation is a comparative one. Without stepping on toes, for now, maybe someone needs to do a study on dangerous secret societies and subversive movements in American history, and line them all up for examination. I know that "subversive" is an ambiguous term. What is subversive for some, is good for others. However, line them up, take in account all pertinent information, have no group getting "special protection," and see what it looks like. I suspect that there would be many, many bruised egos; and I also suspect that there would be no "Northern Italian groups."
I know for an absolute fact that many ethnic groups, from numerous races, do receive special protection from media exposure, and members of those dangerous secret societies have done tremendous harm to our country.
I wanted to add, and I think it's somewhat relative enough to this subject, one ethnic group which endured tremendous loss within this land. REAL loss too. That being the Cajuns. They were forced out of Canada, and force-migrated to Louisiana by the British. Literally millions died! We never hear about that, and it happened here; albeit not at the hands of Americans.
3-28-09 Addition: I came across one item that I wanted to add here, but didn't want to devote another entry for. I'm not trying to make a mountain out've a mole hill, but wanted to briefly touch upon it.
From YouTube user pjccannella: "Italians bult America!!! we brought them great food great singers great craftsman we built the capital building!! and the white house! and they still call us w**s!.......... while they eat are great food an listen to are great singers and try to learn our arts! columbus is only the begining. there needs to be a day for us Italian Americans we found and built this country and we dont get any credit! why is saint patricks day such a big deal what the hell did the irish do for this country? columbus day is a joke! where known for a hell of alot more than that! sorry to sound angry but im sick of takeing a back seat to other coltures that have not done nothing for this country.We are the chosen people just look at our histroy! nobody can touch us."
I had to censor one word, as to not have problems with blogspot. As to who "built America," which I'm assuming is a reference to the America that was once the best in almost every human endeavor at one point, I think that some demographic groupings contributed more than others. It's still somewhat of a moronic statement to say that "we built America." Yes, the traditional "Italian-Americans" did their share as paving the roads and laying the bricks, but so did many others.
As far as food, all cuisine of the Italian peninsula is very good or great, so I think he has a point there. The great singers and musicians in America were of Southern Italian descent. As far as building the capitol building, those were Florentines if I remember correctly. The craftmanship and art of Northern Italians is second to none in the world. Sure, there can be some very good stone masonry in Southern Italy and other places, but I don't think he's really on the level here.
His only really valid point is Columbus Day, and Columbus as a "politically incorrect" figure. Someone could argue that Saint Patrick is politically incorrect for bringing Vatican power into Ireland. The Vatican is one of the most powerful banking institutions in the world. Also, this all but eliminated the native spirituality/religions in the country. So, therefore, the Columbus question is one that can't be solved. Either an individual believes that there should have been an America, or not. There can be no compromise there. I have a lot more to say about that, and tons of inconvenient facts to present, but I will save that, for now.
I get a strong impression that pjccannella's master list of "Italian and Italian-American" accomplishments were those of Florentines, Genoese, Torinese, Milanese, Venetians, etc. C'mon, most Italian-Americans in NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc., never met a single person of Northern Italian decent in their cities, in their entire lives. It's the theory of "Italian-Americans," but not the reality.