Michael Parenti: What is My Ethnicity? Italian-American or Mafia?
There have been claims by those in the Government that the FBI has been instructed ever since the Kefauver Hearings, to Focus almost entirely on Italian criminals, that always engender more "colorful" Headlines, and ignore the Jewish criminals, for fear of raising Anti Semitism.
And Michael Parenti points out the
obvious that we are most oblivious to: In fact, what the mafia bosses
stole from the public was a pittance compared to the hundreds of billions
of dollars that Corporate America regularly plundered from workers, consumers,
small investors, and taxpayers.
Oldest organized crime groups in US
The Mafia and Me: Reflections on Being Italian
Open Media Boston; by Michael Parenti (Independent), January, 20, 2011
...Let's go back to the aftermath of the Kefauver hearings. America, O America, God?s glorious but ever besieged country, was in the grip of an organized crime network that threatened to destroy the very fabric of our society, or so we were repeatedly alerted. In fact, what the mafia bosses stole from the public was a pittance compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars that Corporate America regularly plundered from workers, consumers, small investors, and taxpayers.
This went largely unnoticed in all the hoopla. That Congress actually attempted to confront the mafiosi was proof enough that these hoodlums were men of limited power. They did not sit on the governing boards of corporations, banks, investment houses, foundations, universities, museums, and churches as do the ?captains of industry and finance.? They could not buy Capitol Hill, the way the big corporations and financiers have repeatedly done.
Unlike the boardroom plunderers, the mafiosi did not occupy high positions in Washington or on Wall Street. They didn't cavort with the top White House decision-makers and Pentagon contract fixers with their million-dollar kickbacks and mysterious billion-dollar budgetary evaporations.
The mafia dons did not relax or play golf with the paladins of wealth as did Dirty Dickie Cheney, or Georgie the Blood Sucker Bush, or Slick Willie Clinton, or Barack Legs Obama, or Bernie Two-Faced Madoff, or Jack Casino Abramoff, or Andy Fasthands Fastow or Ken the Weasel Lay.
Now that's organized crime: the policymakers not the bookmakers, the banksters not the gangsters.
The uneducated mafia thugs never did get near the real money. As already noted, they had to content themselves with smalltime scams, numbers rackets, loan sharking, cargo thefts, extortion---even pathetic exploits like busting open parking meters for the coins. If they had a corrupting influence on public officials, it was usually at the local level and in a limited sphere.
Besides being small-time, these few hundred villains composed but a tiny sliver of an Italian-American population estimated at over fifteen million people, but this datum was lost in all the media hype. In the American psyche, the thugs became representative of the many millions of Italian-Americans who were and still are predictably, accurately, and fruitlessly described as decent, hardworking, law-abiding citizens.
This phrase repeated again and again like a desperate mantra--decent, hardworking, law-abiding citizens?was no match for the romanticized Hollywood makeover given to Don Corleone, who makes you an offer you can?t refuse and who along with Tony Soprano implants himself in the public imagination as a rough, tough, but basically decent and even loveable patriarch.
Years ago I was being interviewed for a teaching job at an east coast university. The interview was being conducted by the president and the dean of the school. The three of us got into a discussion about the sociology of the family. I mentioned that the family for many ethnic groups and low-income people in general functioned as a unit of survival, for instance, the Italians.
Ah yes, the Italians, chimed the president and the dean, suddenly keenly aware of my ethnic background. The two of them immediately launched into a discussion about Italians, referring not to the rich Italian American historical and sociological literature?of which they were ignorant--but to the movie The Godfather! In almost sentimental singsong fashion, they went on about how closely knit the gangster family was and how important such loyalty was for the risky ventures pursued.
Uh no, I tried to say, um, excuse me, those are not the Italians I?m referring to. For me the conversation was not going well. But they persisted. Having seen the movie, they could speak with expert confidence. They even took kindly care not to mention the numerous brutal murders and assaults that must have composed the more stressful side of my Italian family life as they imagined it.
I found myself thinking that I might just slip out into the parking lot and slash their tires-?if only to give some real-life confirmation to the pictures in their heads.
More recently, I was sitting with a group of friends who were discussing the difficulties encountered when naming ethnic groups. Should people from Latin America be called Latinos or Hispanics or Latin-Americans? And should people of African heritage be called African-American or Black or Mixed Race?
At one point I interjected: ?People of my ethnic group are still trying to get labeled Italian-American [pause] instead of mafiosi.? It got some sympathetic laughs.
Michael Parenti?s recent books include: The Face of Imperialism (Paradigm, April 2011); God and His Demons; (Prometheus, 2010); Democracy for the Few 9th ed. (Wadsworth, 2010); Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights, 2007). For further information, visit: www.MichaelParenti.org.
This article was submitted directly to Open Media Boston staffer David Goodman, and simultaneously published in several other publications around the United States.
Notable Criminal Organizations
Perhaps the best known criminal organizations are the Sicilian and Italian American Cosa Nostra, most commonly known as the Mafia. The Neopolitan Camorra, the Calabrian and Italian Canadian 'Ndrangheta, and the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita are similar Italian organized crime groups. Other organized criminal enterprises include British Firms, the Irish Mob, Philadelphia Greek Mob, the Jewish Mafia and Israeli Mafia, the Polish Mob, the Russian Mafia and Vory v Zakone, Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, the Chechen mafia, the Albanian Mafia, the Slovenian Mafia, the Czech Mafia, the Serbian Mafia and Montenegrin Cartel, the Bulgarian Mafia, the Macedonian Mafia, the Estonian Mafia, the Chinese Triads and Tongs (both of which are sometimes aided by snakeheads), the Japanese Yakuza, the Korean Kkangpae, African-American Crime Syndicates, the Jamaican Posses and Jamaican-British Yardies, Nigerian Crime Syndicates, Somalian and Southeast Asian pirates, Unione Corse, the Indian Mafia, the Afghan Cartel, Moroccan Cartel, Tunisian Mob, Mongrel Mob, Algerian Mob, Egyptian Mob, Sinaloa Cartel , Turkish Mafia, Romanian Mafia, Hungarian Mafia, Antillean Mob, Georgian Mafia, Netherlands Mob, Los Zetas and other crime syndicates. On a lower level in the criminal food chain are many street gangs, such as the Crips and Bloods, Florencia 13, Latin Kings, Tiny Rascal Gangsters, Trinitarios, Broady Boyz, Dominicans Don't Play, Vice Lords, Black P. Stones, Black Gangster Disciples, Armenian Power, TAP Boys, La Raza, and the Asian BoyZ, Brazilian gangs, ETA, Mungiki, Longo gang, Timorese gangs, Bangladeshi gangs( in the UK) .
Criminal organizations may function
both inside and outside of prison. Such prison gangs include the Barrio
Aztecas, Black Guerrilla Family and D.C. Blacks, the Mexican Mafia and
Sure?os, the Aryan Brotherhood and Nazi Lowriders along with Public Enemy
No.1, the Nuestra Familia and Norte?os, the Indian Posse The Numbers Gang,
Dead Man Inc., the Texas Syndicate, the Mexikanemi, Tango Blast, the Association
?eta, United Blood Nation, and the People Nation and Folk Nation. Biker
gangs such as the Hells Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos, Pagans, Mongols, Warlocks,
Sons of Silence, The Breed, Devils Diciples, and Vagos are also extremely
involved in organized crime http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organized_crime