Obama, Nancy, and the Health Care Reform Bill. The View from the Italian-American Community on Facebook.
We organized our discussion as follows: first, we posted the news: "10:45pm The House has just passed the Health Reform Bill." During the night, 27 people sent an approval message (by clicking the "I like it" button,) and 17 people posted a comment. A few hours later, we invited a number of "public intellectuals"
including univeristy professors, journalists, and artists
to express their views in a little more articulated fashion. Six responded in the first 24 hours, and we posted their opinions on our wall. The discussion took off immediately among the almost 6,000 "fans" of our Facebook page: They wrote, sometimes taking issue with each other and "yelling" in capital letters
; some just expressed agreement or disagreement with someone else's position, while others explained their views at more length. We present the whole exchange here as it appeared on Facebook today, March 23, at 10am.
As for the actual content of the exchange, you will notice that while all our contributors who responded in the first hours happened to be in favor of the reform bill, critical comments seem to prevail among the readership. Also notice, however, that up to now 33 readers have posted a comment, and among them you find indeed several critical voices; on the other hand, as many as 49 people have "approved" the pro-reform posts we published by just clicking the "I like it" button. One should conclude that had the latter also taken their time to write a few lines, pro-reform comments would be in the majority.
Be it as it may, the discussion is still open to all those who want to participate. Just come and visit us at www.facebook.com/iitaly.
Anthony J, Tamburri, Dean, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute (Queens College, CUNY)
"Symbolically, this speaks to the value and necessity of inter-ethnic collegiality, collaboration, and cohesion. Be it something as colossal as universal heath care, as we witnessed this evening, or something more local as the movement to prevent the demolition of Our Lady of Loreto Church in Brooklyn, where the neighborhood African Americans have now joined the Italian Americans, when we gather our energies and forces, things can indeed get done. Patrick Gallo was correct to call for this cohesion back in 1974! In the end, however, let us remember that there is still much more for us to get done."
Aileen Riotto Sirey, Chair and Founder, National Organization of Italian American Women
"For all the passion and vituperation surrounding it, “healthcare” is largely an issue about family nurturing. It is therefore remarkably appropriate that the Speaker who broke the long stalemate by ushering the Healthcare Bill through the House was not only the first woman to hold that position...but an Italian American woman.
While the efficacy of the bill has yet to be proven, it is a start. Nancy Pelosi did what came naturally to her by embracing the American family, with special compassion for disenfranchised children, young adults and poor Americans.
Speaker Pelosi has been a lightning rod in part because of her position but in large measure because she is a woman and an Italian American."
Judith Harris, Journalist, Correspondent from Rome
"Because I live in Italy, where a national health service is taken for granted (and sometimes too much for granted!), I have learned to know personally and appreciate its benefits, especially for small children and the elderly. Throughout this campaign in the US I have particularly resented the opposition's disdainful insistence that a national health service is "socialism." One can only be proud that the leadership of Nancy Pelosi contributed so vitally to passage of the bill.
At the same time, this comment by the NARAL organization also struck me: "It is an outrage that anti-choice politicians such as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) used women’s reproductive health as a bargaining chip."