by Suzanne Eovaldi, staff writer
The attorney’s letter describing how his client, his Italian-American client, was treated by a town’s “Professional” still hurts me. When I tried to sleep after reading it, on that one night, I got up to get an old teddy bear sitting in an antique chair that belonged to my mother. I brought the chair and the teddy down to what I thought was to be my great, new home in Florida. I crawled back in bed, pulled teddy up close, and turned on my side. But I no longer could pull my knees up under my chin.
The letter stabbed me horribly. Memories began to flood my late night brain and I could not sleep. I remember my father and my mother telling me about how my cousin and her sweet parents, my godparents, dealt with having to clean up their small yard the morning after the Klan had burned a cross out in front. The Klan burned a cross on their grass because we were Italian-Americans. And the Klan rode to burn us out of America.
I remember being called a “Mackerel Snapper” by other playmates, being made fun of because I didn’t eat meat on Fridays. I remember hearing Dad tell Mother and me how the other two judges he was running with for election to the Circuit Court Judicial District stood up for him, stood by him, as he had to defend himself in front of the judicial candidates’ selection committee. Dad was the first Italian-American who had ever dared run for this position in our location. “We’re running with Ben,” his two running mates said. “Ben is part of our ticket.” And this ticket was elected, not once but twice. Dad very rarely showed his feelings. And my Italian father’s appellate court decisions all were upheld on appeal; only one was held in abeyance and upon review by Illinois’ highest court, it too was upheld.
I remember being called Racist by a friend of a friend when I came to this town; now I cannot forget the images thrown up by this attorney’s letter that describe how someone in this town’s governance treated another Italian-American, a man who took an oath to protect and to serve. This man was called a “professional liar” because he served many years as an undercover officer in order to free a town and its citizens from the scourge of drugs, dealers, and death which he faced every day on his job. I urge each and everyone in this town, as homework, to watch the young Johnny Depp in the film “Donnie Brasco.” Depp’s performance here is one of the finest I have ever viewed because his character comes off of the screen and into the audience’s recognition of what some men go through to protect and to serve.
Even though this Italian-American man received the highest rating possible, he was cast aside, his wife made ill, his honor defiled. When I took to a local news editor a very offensive cartoon he had run with the hurtful theme that made fun of Italians, of Catholics, I asked him why he printed it. “Because it’s funny,” he said. “Yes,” I replied, “unless you are Italian, Catholic.
How come it’s OK to humiliate ridicule, talk in “Soprano” as mentioned in the interview letter, laugh at Italians, at Catholics, but it’s not OK in our obscenely politically correct society to hurl the same cruel epithets at women, African Americans, gays, any other race, gender, or sexual division? Why won’t this town’s voters hold its politicians, staff, “professionals” to a higher standard? Why is it funny to laugh at a female politician who happens to be Italian American, but no one would dare hurl such abuse at the Minneapolis Muslim? Worst of all in this pathetic scenario are the complicit media that look only to boost their rating dollars at the expense of Italian Americans?
Allow me to sleep without Teddy tonight because I no longer need to feel abused because of my birth. At least, help me to cry before I die. Each and every citizen in this town needs to apologize to this highly qualified police officer, a man who did put his life on the line every day, and yet a man brutalized by a cruel interview process. Don’t ever ridicule a cop, talk to him “in Soprano,” until you’ve stood up so close to a burning house that you can feel its heat on your face and see the fear in his face. The police are left to clean up the pieces after the fire chief “calls” the house, that is, declares it lost. Don’t ever dishonor an officer’s shield as I witnessed in another election in this town. Here was another officer who took a bullet on duty.
That bloody horse’s head is under the sheets of each and every one of you who refuses to take part in your town’s freedom to choose, your voting process.