Our Ancestors Gave All They Had

By  Salvatore Buttaci

Who has not heard the classic cop-out, “I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t”? That old “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

So many wondrous events would occur if fewer folks wielded “would” as a weapon instead of “will.” The former is built on conditions; the latter on volitions. “Would” tries to excuse the speaker who refuses to become a doer. “Will” expresses both word and deed of those who are determined to transform their ideas and dreams into reality.

As Italian Americans victimized by the biased media, it is imperative that we put aside what we would like to do or what we feel we cannot do or pretend there is no reason to do or say anything. It is time to be assertive.

Denying our ethnic roots is a slap in the faces of our ancestors who loved Italy but for one reason or another immigrated to the United States with intentions of proving themselves worthy of America. They labored in the fields, on highways and tunnels and bridges, they gave all they had of themselves in respect of their new country. They remain our heroes who never once forgot the old country where hunger, unemployment, and fear of disease compelled them to emigrate.

How can their sacrifices be forgotten? How can their sons and daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren silently stand by while the American media present their ethnicity in so unfavorable a light? How can they enjoy commercials that portray Italian Americans as psychopathic gangsters who murder at the drop of the proverbial hat? How can Italian American viewers who should know better sit back and laugh at dark Mafioso humor?
It is as though they carry a sign on their backs that reads “Kick me.” Why do they join the opposition? Why do they shrug their shoulders and insist it’s all in fun? They claim a good sense of humor, but the humor is at their expense as well.

How offensive that these Italian Americans are so blind to the slings and arrows of outrageous media! Many take pride in being of Italian descent. Doesn’t this pride presume that they will defend ethnic honor by joining ONE VOICE and making their voices heard? Not to defend honor is to render honor a misnomer. If they say they love all things Italian, then they ought to put that where their mouth is and stand with the rest of us.

The hour’s late. The media will increase their efforts to denigrate us at every opportunity. Our only defense is to stand strong and united against them. We need to imitate other ethnic groups who fight against bias, those groups from whom the media wisely shies away.

Too many Italian Americans say, “I would if I could.” Let it now be said: “You can!” And to those who make it clear they are unaffected by media mud tossed at our ethnicity, let it further be stated that they are our brothers and sisters, likewise targets of the media.

With renewed strength in numbers and conviction, we can together restore the honor we and our Italian ancestors rightfully deserve.