A Stereotype You Should Refuse
Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, December 27, 2013
At the risk of sounding like politically correct whiners (which we are not), may we ask why Dana Milbank was allowed to refer to politicians on Capital Hill as "warring mafia families" ["Godfathers of the Capitol," Sunday Opinion, Dec. 22]?
Yes, we know: "It's just a metaphor" and "freedom of speech." But we also know that those particular words have one specific target in mind: criminals (fictional or real) with Italian surnames.
For sake of argument, we ask that The Post, and its readers, take a step back and do a quick rewrite of Milbank's column, replacing his phrase with one involving blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Asians or Arabs and the stereotypical insult of choice.
It's a safe bet that none of those offensive phrases would have passed the first edit, and rightly so. These crude, knee-jerk caricatures are completely out-of-place in today's enlightened era.
But it is still apparently okay for columnists to promote the slander that Americans with Italian surnames are the only ones who have ever been involved with organized crime in the history of the United States.
Bill Dal Cerro, Floral Park, N.Y.
Italic Institute of America.