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A Plea for Standards

The battle against the DreamWorks animation Shark Tale is still being fought. But one lesson has come out of it. We have now learned that the Italic communities on both sides of the Atlantic have no standard of pride. What we in America consider defamation, the Italians consider art. When the leaders of the Italian American community call for an advance, most of our politicians and prominenti hear retreat. It is not merely a question of unity as it is a lack of common standards.

The only standards we all agree on are those relating to our stomachs and taste buds. There are few who would accept Dominos Pizza and Chef Boyardee hijacking our cuisine. Italians have even organized the Pizza Police and the Slow Food Movement to defend our gastro-intestinal systems. Give us al dente or give us death! We even put aside our pathetic debate over sauce vs. gravy to proclaim our solidarity for buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma.

Yet, when it comes to our non-edible patrimony we allow any paesano to spin, mutilate and bend it to his own selfish needs. Politicians who ignore the community’s plight are excused as uninformed. Community leaders who work at cross-purposes to us are judged only by their status and power not their actions. Actors and directors who feed off negative stereotypes are forgiven because “they gotta eat.” Prominent Italian Americans who refuse to aid their own community are forgiven because “we don’t burn bridges.” Maybe it is time to apply the same rigid standards to our image as we set for our food. Perhaps it is time to judge movers and shakers by our awesome heritage rather than their selfish egos. Buon Appetito!


-John Mancini
 
 
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