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Letter: Astorino’s comments hurt Italian-Americans

Astorino’s comments hurt Italian-Americans

New York is my home state, with its large Italian-American population and important role in our community’s history. Its impending gubernatorial election includes Italian-American candidates on both sides of the aisle.

Republican candidate Rob Astorino recently compared Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission to the actions of a Mafia boss, going as far as quoting from “The Godfather.” Every major Italian-American group has reacted with disappointment to Astorino’s flippant use of tired and detrimental anti-Italian stereotypes. The National Italian American Foundation is of no different opinion.

This is not about the perpetuation of stereotypes, but about a lack of unity and civility among members of the Italian-American community. I would be hard-pressed to find an example of another ethnic group that would sling stereotypical barbs in a local election, let alone a race of such importance. We need Italian-American leaders of civility and respect for one another.

We look at the state of our ethnicity and wonder why it is so difficult to make major strides. The lack of respect for one another often sets us backward in our struggle for full appreciation. It is difficult to measure our efforts toward anti-defamation and changing the negative misconceptions of the Italian-American community. But when our community leaders carelessly use and perpetuate these myths, it sets us back further than anyone outside our own ethnic group could.

Shame on Astorino for the disgraceful example he is setting for young Italian-Americans, future leaders of our community and nation.

John M. Viola

President, National Italian

American Foundation