A Malevolent Obsession

Saturday’s NY Times had a front-page article titled “Deep State Paranoia Defense in Mafioso’s Death.”  It was a follow-up report on the murder of an alleged gangster on Staten Island.  The shooter is now blaming rightwing propaganda for his violence, after walking back his motive at least three times.  The media’s original speculation was that it was a “mob hit.”  However, the victim and shooter only knew each other because the shooter tried to date the victim’s niece.  No mob ties!  Yet, the Times reports that this confusing murder was “one of the city’s most brazen mob killings in history.” Wow!

Our Institute knew years before Donald Trump that the media often propagates fake news. We based that belief on how the Italic people have been treated.  The media has Mafia-philia: an enduring passion for Italic gangsters. It transcends time, reality, and political correctness.  It has evolved from straight reporting in the 1960s to a malevolent obsession today.  It is no secret that this compulsive behavior has been fueled by Hollywood.

I just finished watching The Irishman on Netflix.  My first surprise was that it wasn’t about Ireland or Pierce Brosnan.  There are no renditions of Danny Boy, no Irish saloons or brawls, no lilting brogues, no St. Patrick or shamrocks.  The main character, Frank Sheeran, is played by Robert De Niro and speaks Italian.  In fact, if Martin Scorsese hadn’t titled this compendium of scumbags and violence “The Irishman,” the viewer would think it’s an all-paesan mob movie, which it basically is.

Scorsese needs a shrink. Critics have been too kind to him because they have caught his obsession for Italian American gutter heritage.  It’s not that he was born into a crime family – his parents worked in the garment industry – or saw mob hits first hand (as Chazz Palminteri himself claims).  He was an asthmatic wuss whose favorite matinee idol was Sabu, the half-naked Indian boy (there’s a subject to explore in therapy!).  He flunked out of priest prep school, and has been married or shacked up with six different women.  Yet, he and a handful of other mob-obsessed filmmakers have ground our heritage into pulp fiction, all to the cheering of America’s and Italy’s elite as well as most clueless Italian Americans.

The movie is pure Scorsese, embellished with Doo-Wop music, weddings, baptisms, Italian dialect, vintage cars, Church Latin, and Italian restaurants. Even Irish Frank’s young daughter Peggy looks Italian (real name: Lucy Gallina) and eats minestrone at home.  Scorsese peddles nostalgia like GIs tossed chocolate bars to war weary Italian waifs.  It’s his insurance that boomers will be lulled back to their youth while he hijacks the Italian legacy.

Like any Italic-made mob movie there are no good Italians. All I could come up with in the three and a half hour parade of crooks and murderers was a law enforcement agent named Di Gregorio who arrests Jimmy Hoffa.  He didn’t make the credits for his 10-second cameo, but that’s the best I can do.  Among the non-Italians, Scorsese gives us Frank’s daughter Peggy who smells corruption at seven, rejecting her father’s mobster boss Russell Bufalino and skeeving her own murdering dad for the rest of his life.  Even Jimmy Hoffa (actually German-Irish), who many unknowing viewers may think Italian for his vowel and Al Pacino’s portrayal, comes across with more nobility than any Italian in the story, even with convictions for extortion and jury-tampering!

This film is not merely a cavalcade of every Italic mobster in FBI files, it is also a travelogue of Philadelphia don Russell Bufalino’s interstate shakedowns. On his road trip to Detroit with Frank and their wives, they stop every few miles to collect protection money from gas stations, jewelry stores, and other small businesses.  This is the same man who wears an Italian American Civil Rights League pin with pride – Scorsese’s message that everything Italian is suspect.

Not satisfied with reenactments of real mob hits like Albert Anastasia’s barber chair demise and Joe Gallo’s last bloody meal at Umberto’s Clam Bar, Bufalino utters this threatening mafia line about Hoffa: “If they can whack a president, they can whack the president of a union.” Forget Lee Harvey Oswald!  Scorsese knows who JFK’s real assassins were.

All power to the Mafia!    Must we participate in this obsession? -JLM

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