Spike Lee works to 'demonize' Italian-Americans
Letter to the Editor,
January 19, 2011
Despite his hollow and illogical denials during his North Central College speech the other night, filmmaker Spike Lee absolutely goes out of his way to demonize and/or distort Italian-American culture for his own benefit.
Why does he do this? We do not know. What we do know, however, is that Lee's disingenuousness has some very real consequences — that is, it has hardened the media's heart to the actual truth of Italian-American history.
For example, is Lee aware of any of the following? To wit:
In New York in the 1930s, clarinetist Joe Marsala (born in Chicago) formed the first integrated jazz band in the nation and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed the first black female judge in the U.S. (Jane Bolin).
In the 1940s, progressive New York Congressman Vito Marcantonio fought for anti-lynching laws.
In the 1950s, political activist Emma Bambace (the first female vice president of the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union) refused to eat in Woolworth's stores because they wouldn't serve blacks. During the same decade, drummer Louis Bellson (born Luigi Balassoni in Rock Falls) married the African-American singer Pearl Bailey, which shocked a racially segregated America. Even more shocking, yet inspiring: Despite the hate mail they received, their love endured until Pearlie Mae's death 38 years later.
In the 1963 march in Selma, Ala., singer Tony Bennett (born Anthony De Benedetto) and activist priest James Groppi of Milwaukee marched with Dr. King.
In 1964, former judge Anthony Celebrezze was President Johnson's point man on the war on poverty.
In the late 1960s and mid-1970s, priests Gino Baroni (Washington, D.C.) and Louis Gigante (New York) worked with dirt-poor, inner-city African-Americans.
Final irony: Little Spike Lee, growing up in New York, was inspired to become a filmmaker by a mentor named Martin Scorsese, an Italian-American.
It's time for Lee to "do the right thing" and man up regarding his own divisive agenda.
Founded in Floral Park, N.Y., in 1987, the Italic Institute of America is an educational nonprofit which promotes and defends Italic culture in America and throughout the world.