By Craig J. Cantoni
April 11, 2007
The vowel on the end of my name has
attracted racist idiots and ignorant dealers in stereotypes all of my life.
One time, I was the keynote speaker at a
conference of public school teachers. When the master of ceremonies introduced
me, some blacks in the front row cracked jokes about the Mafia. Ironically,
the theme of the meeting was diversity.
A former boss of German ancestry regularly
called me an “Eyetalian,” but didn’t refer to himself as a Kraut.
Much of the impetus behind the public
school movement in the mid-nineteenth century came from the WASP establishment
wanting to put “Papist” schools out of business and teach the King James Bible
to Italian immigrants in public schools.
In the late 1930s, the mainstream media,
including Look magazine, printed
ethnic slurs about Italians. For example, it was written that baseball great
Joe DiMaggio was not a typical Italian, because “he didn’t reek of garlic and
put bear grease in his hair.”
When former New York Governor Mario Cuomo
ran for the presidency, concerns were raised about his ethnicity.
I say “So what” because discrimination by
nincompoops doesn’t matter and has absolutely no effect on how I think of
myself. Why should I care what a nincompoop says, especially one as
pasty-faced, bigmouthed and ignorant as Don Imus?
The only discrimination that matters is discrimination
by the government, because the government has the power to enforce
discrimination at the point of a gun.
If the southern states had protected the
rights of blacks at the point of a gun instead of enforcing slavery and Jim
Crow at the point of a gun, the racism of southern white crackers wouldn’t have
mattered in matters of importance. Blacks would have started their own
businesses, banks, schools, and communities. And whites would have quickly
broke ranks and hired blacks and sold goods and services to them.
Jews have proved this point throughout
history. As long as governments didn’t take their lives and property, they
thrived without being part of the establishment. The same with Italian
Americans, who, in spite of the discrimination they faced, have thrived so much
that they now rank as high as Jewish Americans in income.
Whatever he was called by nincompoops,
DiMaggio could still whack a baseball. Whatever Italians were called in the
local press, my grandfather could still buy a two-flat on Dago Hill in St. Louis and live in a
community that continues to thrive today, unlike other parts of town that
turned into slums long ago. And whatever I was called by my former boss, I had
the satisfaction of quitting and then watching the business go bankrupt.
Race mongers like Jesse Jackson and Al
Sharpton have it backwards. They fake hysteria over insensitive racial remarks
by the likes of Don Imus while endorsing government discrimination in the form
of affirmative action, set-asides, quotas, and college admission shenanigans.
In that sense, they are no different from the southern white crackers of
yesteryear who used government power to favor their race.
It’s enough to turn my head of Brillo-like
An author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni can
be reached at email@example.com.