Monthly Archives: March 2009

Assassination of Petrosino Commemorated in Washington – NIAF Executive Director Criticizes Media Treatment of Italian Americans

petrosino_rosesAt a ceremony held on March 12, 2009, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, to commemorate the assassination of Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino, James Di Santis, Executive Director of the National Italian American Foundation, said that it was important to recall the story of Lt. Petrosino because “too many journalists still feel comfortable in drawing associations between Italian Americans and organized crime. ”  De Santis said that the media “overlooks our strenghts as an ethnic group that still cherishes a strong family structure, deep religious convictions and a passion for doing what is right.”

The commemoration was sponsored by the Friends of Charles Bonaparte, a group of current and former U.S. Department of Justice officials who support an annual ceremony commemorating Bonaparte, the 46th Attorney General and the Founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Attending the event were senior officials of the U.S. Department of Justice, Lou Scalfari, the President of the Lido Civic Club, the oldest Italian American civic organization inthe Nation’s Capital, and Pino Cicala, the Italian American voice in Washington DC and producer of Antenna Italia.

Francesco Isgro, a co-founder of the of the Friends of Charles Bonaparte, said in his welcoming remarks that the anniversary of the assasination of Petrosini was “an event that should not go unnoticed by all Americans and especially Italian Americans.”  Father Lydio Tomasi, Pastor of the National Italian parish, Holy Rosary Church gave an invocation.  Joe Grano, the Chair of the Constantino Brumidi Society and also an organizer of the event, recounted the life of Petrosino from his roots in Padula near Salerno,  to his funeral in New York City where more than 200,000 people lined up the streets during his funeral procession.

Hon. Francis M. Allegra, federal judge for the U.S. Court of Claims, and a former DOJ official, spoke about the “rule of law” and how all enforcement officers whose names are engraved on the Memorial, including Jospeh Petrosino, sacrificed their lives to uphold the rule of law.

NIAF’s National Executive Director, said that it was important that we recognize “modern-day Lt. Petrosino’s who dedicate their lives to sustaining a society that is characterized by its respect for the law. We can all take great pride in those Italian Americans in law enforcement, the legal profession and the bench who carry out their responsibilities with dignity, fairness and passion.”

Folllowing the remarks, the attendees placed red roses on the wall were Petrosino’s name is engraved for eternity.


Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino’s Assassination To Be Commemorated In Washington, DC

petrosino_memorialThe 100th Anniversary of the assassination of NYC Lt. Giuseppe (“Joe”) Petrosino in Sicily will be commemorated at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on March 12, 2009, at 12:00 Noon. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Charles Bonaparte, and by Italian American Organizations in the Washington Metropolitan area.  Click here for the program. Read Daily News article on Petrosino; Read article on Petrosino.

Italian Ambassador Criticizes Washington Post’s Front Page Story on Mafia Lending

The Italian Ambassador to Washington, DC, Giovanni Castellaneta, sent on March 3, 2009, the following letter to the Washington Post in response to a front page article published on March 1, 2009, and entitled “As Italy’s Banks Tighten Lending, Desperate Firms Call on the Mafia.”  Read the Post’s article.

Dear Editor: 

            I read Mary Jordan’s article several times [As Italy’s Banks Tighten Lending, Desperate Firms Call on the Mafia, front page, March 1]. Several times because I was expecting, somewhere, to find mention of the fact that Italy’s banking system is among the most solid in the world, or perhaps a simple word about Italy’s not falling victim in recent times to any subprime crisis, artificial real estate boom, bankruptcies, Ponzi schemes, or even to any Madoff types (we put the one we had in jail several years ago and introduced new laws that have protected our financial system in these months). Or mention of the successes Italian authorities are scoring against mafia and organized crime (the recent arrest of mobster Giuseppe Setola) or that our Homeland Security activated a toll-free anti-racketeering and anti-loansharking number that operates 24/7, a measure that has proven quite useful.  

            But nowhere did I find mention of any of this. I have no comments about the article’s one-sided content, the description of a despicable and tragic phenomenon. I wonder, however, if your readers would not have also benefited from just a word about Italy’s commitment or success in fighting it? What idea would my countrymen have of America if they read an article on the Bush Administration that interviewed only Noam Chomsky or a piece on climate change that cited only Rush Limbaugh? 

              I doubt that Walter Cronkite would have concluded Mary Jordan’s article with “that’s the way it is.” 

  Giovanni Castellaneta


Basta Con La Pasta Americana

ronzoni-trio-italianoRonzoni Pasta, Trio Italiano. a combination of  Rotini, Penne and Shells, sounds really Italian – Made Italy by Ronzoni. But it’s not!  Ronzoni has been around for a long time. In fact, it was Alfred Ronzoni, who emigrated from Italy in 1881, who started the Ronzoni Macaroni Company in 1915. Ronzoni is now part of the  New World Pasta, one of the leading branded dry pasta manufacturer in the United States and Canada.   New World Pasta has a manufacturing facility in Winchester, Virginia.

But, isn’t uncoscionable how many products sold in the United States are taking advantage of the “Made in Italy” image. There is no doubt that the “Made in Italy” brand is being damaged.  Whose fault is it?  When consumers buy products branded as “Italian” are they driven to buy them because of the “Made in Italy” image or because, as in the case of pasta, they just need a box pasta, any pasta! What do you think?

Washington Post offends again Italian Americans

We want to share with you a letter that Joe Grano sent to the Washington Post. 

Michael Kinsley, Columnist
The Washington Post

Dear Mr. Kinsley,

I was a bit surprised and frankly miffed by your column today, March 6, in The Washington Post, “A Bailout You Can’t Refuse.” Intended to be a satire on the fact that too many parts of the economy are seeking to be bailed out by the Federal government, you make your argument by engaging in ethnic stereotyping of Italian Americans.

To make your point you have the “organized crime” industry seeking its share of government money. To do this, you have a gentleman you identify as “William P. ‘Billy the Bailout’ Baritone” being nominated by the President “for the newly created post of assistant secretary for illegal affairs.” You note that “Baritone has spent his entire career in organized crime.” I ask you: Will not your average reader identify the name “Baritone” as being Italian as is the name “Soprano”?

As we read further, you use several of the stereotypes of the typical mob figure frequently used in the popular media to identify criminals as people of Italian American descent. Baritone, as you depict him in the column, is generally uncouth, bombastic, uses poor English and images of violence in his speech, such as: “We only slam a window on people’s fingers when they don’t pay up”.

To further make sure that we see this character as an Italian American, as if that were necessary, you actually bring up the Sopranos. You have Baritone say, “You think I would whack the secretary of the Treasury in the middle of a press conference? You been watching too many reruns of ‘The Sopranos’.” This is very funny, but probably not to Italian Americans. Am I being too sensitive here? At a minority sensitivity training class I once attended, I heard articulated the Platinum Rule: “Do not do to others what they do not want done to them.” I invite you to take a poll of Italian Americans to find out if they approve of what you have done, today.

Finally, Mr. Kinsley, while I am a firm believer of freedom of the press, I must ask: Is there another ethnic group that you would dare denigrate, as you have Italian Americans, today?

Respectfully yours,

Joseph N. Grano
Washington, D.C.

Ciao amici!

Welcome to Voce Italiana’s blog.  From the Nation’s capital, we hope to bring you news and analysis about issues of interest to Italian Americans.  Most importantly, we want to hear your views and share them with the New World. Let’s start blogging!