An Italian American Says Basta! To Hispanic Heritage Month
Italian Americans are thick-skinned.
Call us dagos, guineas, wops…that`s
just sticks and stones.
When we`re portrayed in the movies
and on television as
goombas, I`m not offended. I like a good
mobster picture as much as anyone. And no matter what
Hollywood uses, the Italians I know are more like
Antonin Scalia than
But I confess that I got rankled
when, at the
2003 National Italian American Foundation Gala,
President George Bush delivered a
few fleeting words without mentioning—save for a
token reference to Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci—any of
hundreds of significant contributions made by
Still, I forgot about Bush`s
slights—until this year when National Hispanic Heritage
Month rolled around. It`s a 31-day period beginning
September 15th and ending October 15th.
By an odd coincidence, National
Hispanic Heritage Month conflicts with Italian American
Heritage Month, celebrated from October 1st to
Which is bad enough. But as an
Italian American reared by parents and grandparents who
loved the United States, I`m miffed that any month at
all is dedicated to people whose allegiance to our
country is questionable—at least in some cases.
I certainly don`t understand why
Americans should be celebrating the history of
countries whose presence in the U.S. stems largely from
Call me crazy but I don`t see why anyone save
historians gives a rip about something called
“Hispanic Independence Day.” Celebrated on September
15th, Hispanic Independence Day marks the
nearly two centuries ago of Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
But the crown jewel of Hispanic
Heritage Month is
Mexican Independence Day, September 16.
No doubt this is a
perfectly fine and appropriate holiday if you live in
But we don`t (yet). So why bother?
Throughout the U.S., colleges are
pushing Hispanic Heritage Month.
pro-awareness, of course. But, to ask a foolish
question, wouldn`t it be more worthwhile—in light of
university students appalling ignorance about US history—
to spend the time on
American Awareness? .
Here in Lodi, in California`s San
Joaquin Valley, the Lawrence Elementary School—where last
year illegal alien parents
sued the school district—the Second Annual Mexican
Independence Day Celebration took place.
This is a national scandal. What
goes on in the schools is not a joint venture with
Mexico. U.S. taxpayers fund our schools. Mexican holidays
have no place on US school campuses.
I cannot imagine that Italians
would ever attempt such a bold power grab.
Of course, as I have previously
noted in VDARE.COM articles, when it comes to Mexico and
its celebrations, nothing is ever enough. Telco Garcia,
assistant managing editor of the Arizona Republic,
recently admitted as much in his column tellingly
Month Not Enough for Our Hispanic Pride.” [email
Out of curiosity, I looked up what
Bush had to say last year when he waxed poetic about
National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Not surprisingly (since Hispanics
now outnumber Italians in the U.S. by more than 12
million), Bush laid it on thick, trawling for
votes as usual.
Among the Hispanics Bush “applauded”
for their major contributions to America were Joseph
Marion Hernandez, first Hispanic in Congress, 1822, Cuban
Goizueta former. Chairman and C.E.O. of
the Coca-Cola Company, Puerto Rican
Roberto Clemente, Hall of Fame outfielder for the
Pittsburgh Pirates and
Cuban Celia Cruz, salsa music queen.
I admire all the people Bush
named. But, frankly, we Italians can field a better team.
Here, using the exact same
professions that Bush chose, is the Italian line-up.
- Politics: Two of the original signers of the
Constitution were of Italian descent,
William Paca and Caesar Rodney
Amadeo Pietro Giannini, founder of the Bank of
America (originally named the
Bank of Italy) which financed the Golden Gate Bridge,
aerospace and agriculture industries for decades.
- Baseball: Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper. The
son of Sicilian immigrants, DiMaggio was once voted
“the Greatest Living Player.”
Frank Sinatra, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy-winning
star and philanthropist, known as “The Chairman of
No one can argue but that this
dwarfs the Hispanic contingent.
After you look at those names, you
have to wonder how, at that speech to National Italian
American Foundation Gala, Bush could only offer up
Columbus and Vespucci.
I believe the answer is simple:
doesn`t know anything about Italians!
Yet, while yesteryear`s Italians
have been enormous contributors to America`s success,
Bush also owes a debt of gratitude to today`s Italians
who are fighting his ugly war in Iraq.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi, citing the long-time friendship between Italy
and the U.S., sent
Italian troops to Iraq. Nineteen have died.
Bush owes it to Italians to learn
our complete story.
Once he knows it, maybe he`ll
realize who his real friends are.
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.