A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll unveiled a blockbuster finding today: one-in-five Democratic and Independent voters say the country isn’t ready for an Italian-American President. Yikes! Those respondents are supposed to be on the liberal side of the ledger.
The shocking piece of poll news apparently is directed at the prospects of the only Italian-American in the race, Rudy Giuliani. The WSJ/NBC poll begs the question: Why was the Italian-American question asked in the first place?
Isn’t America past that old bigoted mentality? Did the WSJ/NBC News ask people if they would elect a Finnish-American President? How about a Serbian-American leader, or a Peruvian-America?
Italian-Americans have been combating pejorative stereotypes (Mafia) since 1970 when a group led by reputed mobster Joe Colombo picketed FBI headquarters in New York over the arrest of his son. The initial 30 demonstrators struck a grassroots chord, and the group soon swelled to 5,000 under the umbrella “Italian-American Civil Rights League.” The organization held a huge rally in Central Park and then went Hollywood when Frank Sinatra filled Madison Square Garden for a benefit concert for the League.
Colombo, unfortunately, was shot three times in the head at a Central Park rally in 1971, triggering media speculation (and perpetuating the Mafia stereotype) that it was a “hit job” ordered by one of New York’s crime families. That "hit" effectively put an end to the League.
The NIAF honored Rudy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a special achievement award at a black-tie gala in D.C. last month. Both would do the nation proud as commander-in-chief. This blogger, however, would sleep a lot better at night with Nancy in the White House.