The Assault on Italian Culture

This week is an important week in the lives of Italian Americans, especially today, when our  culture, heritage, historic contributions and honor have been challenged and diminished by anti American organizations now trying to apply 21st Century standards to 15th Century life.

The month of October has always been known as Christopher Columbus month and celebrated as a National holiday, acknowledging the many accomplishments of Italian Americans from years past, to the most recent naming of Luigi DelBianco, 48 years after his death and now being recognized as the Chief carver of the Mt. Rushmore National Monument.

Italian American symbols and monuments have come under attack, vandalized and/or destroyed as major cities are changing or cancelling Columbus Day only to placate their political base, simply because they are spineless. The city of New York is currently considering the removing of the Columbus Statue in Columbus Circle. This consideration follows the actions of cities such as Los Angeles, Oberlin, Ohio, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon who have already renamed Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Will the next step be in replacing the names of streets, parks or the renaming of Columbus Hospital? These proposals have bolstered the voice of organizations such as the California based National Education Association (NEA) headed by Lily Eskelsen Garcia who is using teachers union dues to promote the elimination of Columbus Day on the 2nd Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day or as they call it,  “El Dia de la Raza” and is their attempt to diminish the accomplishments of Italian Americans and Columbus himself. Could they not have picked another day in what is left of 364 days to honor Indigenous People? There is no coincidence here.

There are 1.5 million residents of Italian heritage residing in NJ and it is time for their voices to be heard. Many are public service teachers who contribute daily to the lives of its residents and the students they teach. Those same students should continue to learn of the accomplishments of Columbus and the many Italian Americans who have contributed significantly to our American history. I sincerely doubt that many teachers know or understand that a portion of their union dues paid to the NJEA, a sub-set of the NEA, and are being used to undermine their heritage.

As the Grandson of Italian Immigrants, President of the Cedar Grove Chapter of UNICO National and as a member of the Italian American Police Society I urge all Americans of Italian descent, Americans who ancestors significantly contributed to national and local causes to honor and celebrate Columbus Day and guard our Italian heritage closely. If we do not, we may be at the doorway of watching our history and heritage be stolen right from under us.

Consider writing a letter to a local politician, join an organization or simply care enough to send a letter to the paper of your choice to voice your concerns. Americans of Italian descent should not again be subjected to an assault of our rich history by those who seek to pacify their base. If we do not stand up, just ask yourself, if not us, then who?

Patrick DeFrancisci
President
The Cedar Grove Chapter of UNICO National
October 2,2017