Letter to the Editor,
August 7, 2010
Richard Cohen was correct in excoriating politicians who fail to uphold America's constitutional freedoms. Indeed, when it comes to religious tolerance and the proposed Islamic center and mosque in New York, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Abe Foxman and Rick Lazio have hardly been profiles in courage.
So why did Mr. Cohen find it necessary to taunt Mr. Lazio by invoking the specter of the Mafia stereotype? Mr. Cohen wrote: "He of all people should know that it is unfair to judge an entire people by the criminal behavior of a few: capiche?"
In addition to mangling Dante Alighieri's mother tongue and smearing Mr. Lazio's ethnicity, Mr. Cohen fell prey to the ad hominem tu quoque, or "you, too," fallacy.
For the record -- according to the FBI -- an infinitesimally minuscule percentage of Italian Americans (.00782 percent) are involved in organized crime. In truth, the scions of Italy may well be America's most law-abiding ethnic group.
Rosario A. Iaconis, New York
Vice Chairman, Italic Institute of America.