Articles by: Ottorino Cappelli

  • Art & Culture

    Delirious Naples in New York: A conversation with Stan Pugliese

    Naples seems to be “fashionable” in the U.S. these days. John Turturro’s acclaimed film Passione has contributed to a trend of interest that culminated last week in a long article in the New York Time’s Travel section. Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò (NYU) and the Lincoln Center have been organizing for several years the film festival 41º Parallelo, dedicated to a cinematographic ‘connection’ between Naples and New York (it starts this year on November 30). Few people know the name of the Mayor of Rome, but many remember Naples’ mayor Antonio Bassolino when he came to New York in the late 1990s to sell the city’s bonds to Wall Street investors in the hope to fund his Neapolitan Reinassance. Many more would know of course about Camorra (the infamous Neapolitan ‘mafia’), at least through Roberto Saviano’s popular book Gomorrah and its cinematographic version by Matteo Garrone. And almost everybody knows of course of the months-long “rubbish scandal” that recently brought the city and its political class to its knees, including Bassolino himself.

    Building in part on this peak of attention, Hofstra University has organized an impressive four-day conference “Delirious Naples”: For a Cultural, Intellectual, and Urban History of the City of the Sun (November 16 to 19: download the full program here).

    The title is designed after that of Delirious New York—the influential cultural, architectural, and social history of New York published in the 1970s by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas—due mainly to the passion for architectural theory nurtured by the conference director, Prof. Pellegrino D’Acierno, who among many other things is the fine translator of Manfredo Tafuri’s classic study of the avant-gardes in architecture (The Sphere and the Labyrinth). So in its conception, the conference represent a multi-faceted homage to the idea that Naples and New York have more in common than one may at first be inclined to believe.

    “I’m not sure if Naples is fashionable, but it certainly is fascinating. Even the negative image of Naples is part of its fascination,” the other conference co-organizer Prof. Stanislao Pugliese tells us. “A bit like New York was fascinating in the 1970s, before it became ‘corporatized’, before Time Square become Disneyland”—and, we might add, before Little Italy was transformed from the Italian-Neapolitan heart of New York into one of the city’s ethnic theme parks.

    “In the 1970s and 1980s, people used to talk about New York as a dangerous, dirty an corrupted city. The same with Naples today. But even in the midst all this corruption, poverty, pollution, garbage, Naples today, like New York then, still manages to be a city of enormous cultural vitality.” And this juxtaposition between la bella vita that it offers and the human tragedy it barely conceals is indeed part of Naples fascination, according to Pugliese.

    No wonder then that Pellegrino D’Acierno writes, in his introductory message to the booklet that accompanies the event, that “this conference is addressed to “lovers of paradoxes.”

    “Naples—he writes—presents itself as an irresolvable paradox: a city in economic and political decline (despite its revival under Antonio Bassolino in the 1990s), which, nonetheless, produces a vital and profound intellectual life and a brilliant and exuberant artistic, literary and urban culture that approaches the condition of the ‘national-popular culture’ that Antonio Gramsci so ardently prescribed.”

    The many paradoxes of Naples as well as the Naples-New York parallel are at the heart of an intensely rich program that starts on November 16 at Hofstra University with an exhibit by independent artist and writer B. Amore (Naples-New York: An Installation), continues its explorations throughout three days of discussions among dozens of scholars and artists, writers and actors, and finally ends at New York University’s Casa Italian Zerilli-Marimò on November 19, with a day full of talks, performances and screenings, a lecture by Pellegrino D’Acierno himself (On Being Exorbitant: The Neapolitan Conception of the World,) and a round table on “Contemporary Naples.”

    According to Pugliese, New York is the best place to held such a stimulating cultural kermesse, because despite their past and presents problems, and all the resulting stereotypes, both these cities “are living, culturally stimulating places in the 21st century. And I also believe that Naples, maybe because it has never been a modern city, can teach us how to be post-modern. It’s a paradox we are going to stress, Naples is a city of paradoxes, and much more complex than the stereotypes would lead us to believe.”

    “At our conference I am going to speak about the difficulty of writing a cultural history of Naples for a popular audience without falling into clichés. On the one hand, you have ‘See Naples and Die’, you have all these people on the Grand Tour, and ‘O sole mio and pizza and spaghetti and all that; on the other hand you just have Camorra and rubbish… So how do you navigate between these two extremes? Does the truth exist somewhere in between or does it exist in some kind of interaction between these opposite poles of thinking about Naples? And, most of all: What can Naples teach us? You see a city that has been around for 30 centuries… they must know something!”

    Pugliese will discuss these topics in the afternoon session of November 16 (Learning from Naples/Reading Naples as a Literary Text, at 1:15pm) together with Pellegrino D’Acierno, Nelson Moe (Barnard College, Columbia University) and Fred Gardaphé, Distinguished Professor of Italian American Studies (John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, CUNY).

    Among the reasons of such widespread interest about Naples in New York, one should not forget to mention the fact that this is one of the most Italian cities of the world—and, given the regional composition of Italian immigration, actually one of the most Neapolitan. Hundreds of thousands of descendants of Neapolitan immigrants live here and—contrary to a well-entrenched stereotypes—they have indeed become part of the political, economic, and cultural establishment of the city.

    The very biography of the two organizers of the conference suggests this. Professor D’Acierno’s father was a graduate of University of Naples’ Medical School who came to the U.S. in 1920s. D’Acierno lost him when he was only 5 years old, and this conference is at least in part a tribute to his memory. Stan Pugliese’s father also came from the Naples area (actually from Montefalcione, in the Avellino province), while his mother was from the nearby region of Calabria. His origins are not the least of the reasons why he is now working on this cultural history of Naples, which he will present at the conference: “When I was growing up, whenever my brother and I got into trouble my mother would yell at us ‘Questi scugnizzi napoletani! [You damn Napolitan street kids!] Wait until your father comes home…’ So, you know, I grew up with this stereotype of the scugnizzo in my mind… and I always wanted to know and write about these things.”

    The “Delirious Naples” conference, in sum, promises to be a very varied and most stimulating event. Yet, if professors Pugliese and D’Acierno may accept a constructive criticism coming from a Neapolitan colleague working in the field of social sciences, it is that it focuses overwhelmingly on literature and history, cinema and music, arts, architecture and general cultural studies—while it almost completely overlooks an analysis of contemporary Neapolitan society, economy and politics. This may in turn reflect an enduring stereotype, this time in the minds of American academics, whereby Naples sometimes transmutes into a figment of cultural imaginary in which the real city disappears together with its social and class struggles, its economic inequalities, and its fierce political competition.

    Pugliese agrees that this is a weakness—not so much of this conference, but of the general field of Italian Studies in America and promises that they will try to address some of these issues in the final round table at NYU’s Casa Italiana on Saturday, November 19 (“Napul’è” - Learning from Contemporary Naples, at 4:30pm).

    So, if you really cannot make it for the bulk of the conference at Hofstra University during the week, do not miss the last day at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò.

  • Facts & Stories

    Making Sense of the Italian Experience in America

    In December 1966, a group of historians, educators, sociologists, and other interested persons met at the LaGuardia Memorial House in New York City and founded the American Italian Historical Association (AIHA).

    Over the past 45 years, AIHA has devoted itself to the interdisciplinary study of the culture, history, literature, sociology, demography, folklore, and politics of Italians in America. Among its 400 members are the most noted professional authorities in the field as well as enthusiastic lay persons.

    Since its founding, AIHA has published over thirty volumes of the proceedings of its annual conference meetings. This year's conference will be held October 20 to 22 in Tampa, Florida, and its theme will be "Italian American Body Politics: Private Lives and Public Sphere".

    Recently, i-Italy met the President of AIHA, George Guida
    — a writer and associate professor of English at New York City College of Technology

    — to learn more about the association, its activities and its prospects.

    What is AIHA? What is the point of conducting scientific and scholarly research on Italians in America?

    AIHA is an association of scholars, writers, artists and other public intellectuals concerned with studying Italian American life, and with preserving and creating Italian American culture. We're also concerned with sharing Italian American culture with those currently outside of the culture. We try to accomplish these goals by sharing, publishing and promoting our work, which reflects and is part of that culture.

    Italian Americans have a rich history and a wonderful heritage that is constantly renewing itself. One important element in that constant renewal is the constant raising of people's awareness that the culture belongs to them, that it can be a great asset to their lives, wherever they are living them, and that it should never be neglected. We are in the business of helping people to appreciate the value of the knowing the history and taking part in the culture. We are less in the business of serving as an anti-defamation league or cultivating the business and governmental interests of Italian Americans. Institutions such as the National Italian American Foundation and the Sons of Italy already exist to serve these purposes. We applaud their work, and often partner with them, but our focus is first and foremost the production of knowledge and culture, which is the foundation of all social action.

    The other benefit of what we do is the lasting affiliations and, especially important, personal bonds we are able to form with other members. For many of us, AIHA has become a second family.

    How would you assess the state of Italian-American studies in the U.S. today?

    A number of other people--some of our past presidents, for example--could give you a much better answer to this question than I can. Of course, having been part of AIHA for nearly fifteen years now, I have gotten some sense of the field. My sense is that Italian American studies is a vibrant field, but one that has not been adequately institutionalized: that is, we haven't yet been able to create enough college and university programs and other academic entities such as museums and institutes, to ensure the widespread serious and sustained exploration of Italian American culture and society that AIHA pursues. We would love, for instance, to see even half as many college Italian American studies programs as there are African American studies programs or Hispanic Studies programs. Italian Americans are a large group of Americans, and a deep knowledge of our experience can enrich not only our lives, but also the lives of all Americans.

    This year's Conference has an intriguing title, "Italian American Body Politics," and an even more intriguing subtitle, "Private Lives and Public Sphere." Can you tell us something more about it?

    Each year the Executive Committee of AIHA develops a theme, to provide a baseline of study, creation and discussion for the three days of the conference. The theme is never binding, so that anyone doing work in Italian American studies can present at the conference or just attend and take part in discussions. It may simply serve as--forgive the word--a stimulus. And what is more capable of stimulating or being stimulated than the body. In this case, of course, we are speaking of the body metaphorically as well as literally. I think the subtitle hints at the elements of Italian Americans' lives that we have tended not to share with one another or with the general public. That category covers a lot of ground, and has spawned what look to be fascinating and, yes, stimulating conference presentations. 

    This is the last annual conference of AIHA., and the first of a new association called IASA. Why is the association changing its name?
    The membership of AIHA just recently approved the change to the association's new name. Sometime in 2012 we will officially become the Italian American Studies Association (IASA), in great part to acknowledge that we are part of an international academic project to study, appreciate and enrich an ethnic culture and society that is an important component of a larger culture and society. The name signals that our concerns are similar to those of other ethnic studies associations, which is important when the time comes to connect and collaborate with those associations and with other organizations supportive of our work.

    * George Guida is the President of the American Italian Historical Association.
    His latest book is The Pope Stories and Other Tales of Troubled Times (Bordighera Press, 2012). George's Web site is

  • Facts & Stories

    An Italian-American Governor Signs Same-Sex Marriage into Law. The split among Italian-American Senators crucial to the passage.

    In an historical turn of events, on Friday, June 24, the New York State Senate approved 33 to 29 a bill that will allow gay couples to marry. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who acted as the eminence grise skillfully steering the legislative process toward this end, promptly signed it into law.

    Cuomo, who is a Roman Catholic, demonstrated a remarkable autonomy of judgment from the Church hierarchy's entrenched values. His position was somehow reminiscent of the famous 1960 statement by then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, a Catholic Irish-American, when he rejected insinuations that he would act at the pleasure of the Pope: "I am not the Catholic candidate for President," Kennedy said. "I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me."

    Andrew Cuomo's "liberal spirit" today recalls that of his father Mario, who as Governor stayed firmly in opposition to the death penalty (although in that case he was attuned with the Church's position and had to distance himself from conservative Democratic circles). But Mario Cuomo was not known for his pro-gay sentiments and was actually accused of having circulated homophobic posters aimed at Edward I. Koch in his unsuccessful 1977 bid for mayor of New York; Andrew, then 20 years old, worked on his father's campaign. Thirty years later, however, Andrew championed same-sex marriage in his gubernatorial campaign and he got the vote of the New York gay community.

    As for the Senators, the Italian American caucus was split on the measure: 6 voted in favor of the bill and 8 voted against (see table below). The division ran mainly along party lines but, while all nay-voters were Republicans and all Democrats voted yes, two Republicans from upstate – veteran senator James Alesi and freshman Mark Grisanti – joined the majority in supporting the law. This split among the Italian-American Republican legislators was crucial for the passage of the law: had they all been united, a 31-31 result would have ensued.

    According to the New York Times, James Alesi (Monroe County) whose 2009 opposition to same-sex marriage was admittedly due less to moral conviction than to “political discipline,” was subject to several pressures from pro-gay campaigners and donors in his district. In the end Mr. Alesi, who has been in the Senate since 1996, was publicly praised by Mr. Cuomo as “the first Republican to support marriage equality.”

    The other Republican dissident, Mark Grisanti (Buffalo), who has just been elected in 2010 for the first time, said he struggled with his decision because he didn't want to be “the deciding vote as a freshman senator.” However, he added, after much research he found that he could not deny a “human being ... the same rights that” he has with his wife (see video here).

    Things have been shifting in the Italian-American Democratic field too. Conservative Democrats who had previously opposed the measure, such as George Onorato from Queens, are not in office any longer. And Senator Joseph Addabbo, jr, also from Queens, who had voted ‘no’ in an effort to mirror his constituents' opinion, was persuaded to switch sides by last-minute polls and pro-gay mobilization in his district. In this case too, Mr. Cuomo is said to have been behind the scenes.

    Reached by i-Italy via email, Senator Diane Savino – a co-founder of the Working Families Party and today a Democratic Senator from Brooklyn and Staten Island – commented on the changing orientation of the Italian-American Legislators: "it can best be explained as a generational shift among italian-americans in general.  The members of the italian-american conference are getting younger each year, and with that generational shift is coming a shift in tolerance for ideas that were considered unacceptable to our parents and grandparents."

    At the national level, the gay community is becoming ever more relevant in view of the 2012 presidential elections. President Obama, who had the support of the gay community in 2008 and needs it ever more now, praised the vote of the New York Senate. i-Italy will monitor the process to understand where the Italian-American community will be leaning.

    Here is how the Italian American Senators voted on the same-sex marriage bill:

    YES (6 Italian-American Senators / 33 total):


    Joseph Addabbo (D, District 15)

    Tony Avella (D, District 11)

    Diane Savino (D, IP, WF, District 23)


    David Carlucci (D, 38)

    James Alesi (R, IP, District 55)

    Mark Grisanti (R, C, IP, District 60) 

    NO (8 Italian-American Senators / 29):


    Kenneth LaValle (R, C, IP, District 1)

    Carl Marcellino (R, District 5)

    Charles Fuschillo (R, 8)

    Andrew Lanza (R, District 24)


    Joseph Griffo (R, C, IP, District 47)

    John DeFrancisco (R, C, IP, District 50)

    Michael Nozzolio (R, C, IP, District 54)

    Joseph Robach (R, C, IP, District 56)

    New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli celebrating the passage of the gay-marriage bill

  • Op-Eds

    Berlusconi's Scandals: The Defense

    Following are three excerpts from documents that are circulating these days among Italians abroad who are close to the Berlusconi camp.

    They include a press release from Mr. Fausto Mandarano, Vice President of Movimento delle Libertà, the organization of Silvio Berlusconi's party that deals with Italians abroad, and two articles from "Italia chiama Italia", a website that claim to be the "most read newspaper for Italians in the world".

    All these documents aim to defend the Italian Premier from his most recent sexual scandal, which refers to an alleged sexual relationship with a young under-age Moroccan girl. But they all go far beyond that.

    We feel their arguments are interesting and thought-provoking for three reasons:

    First, they do not even attempt to assess the Premier's behavior, but rather accuse journalists and magistrates to have revealed these facts as part of a plot against him.

    Second, they suggest that the private life of a politician should not be of any interest to the public, because what counts is his ability to govern and the results he is able to obtain.

    Third, they all point to the "hypocrisy of the left," that has fought for decades in the name of separation of church and state, sexual freedom ... and even (!) homosexuality, while now it allies itself with the Vatican in a moralist campaign with the only intention of causing the fall of Berlusconi's government.

    We felt it interesting to make these arguments in defense of Berlusconi available to the American public, in a country which surely isn't new to exploiting judicial investigations and sexual scandals for political purposes. Nor to the dangerous mix between politics and morality--whatever the latter may mean for each and all of us.

    For those who recall a wonderfully sexy Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" in an era when everybody knew of JFK's extramarital relationship with her and nobody seemed willing or able to mount a political case against the President; and for those who remember the "Monica Levinsky Case" 30 years later -- when by the way Clinton survived the impeachment attempt --, these documents should ring a familiar bell. Or, at the very, least they should provoke some thought about the decay of the public discourse once the moral dimension takes the place of the political struggle: whoever the target is, and however hypocritical both sides—prosecutors and advocates—may be.

    Perhaps the "Italian case"—in spite of such a peculiar character such as Berlusconi—is not so exceptional to the world as it is presented.

    So judge for yourselves.
    * * *

    Press Release From Fausto Mandarano, MDL
    Italians abroad and Ruby, Mandarano (MdL): Berlusconi in a mediatic mincer. That's enough!

    "If the Ruby cyclone will end as the Noemi and D'Addario ones, reduced as plastic figurines after the feature film written and produced by journalists with no qualms, it would be right for someone to finally ask for restitutions. But to whom? In Ruby's case, the question would be idle. First of all, using today's terms, to whoever orchestrated, manipulated, interpreted, deduced, accused, and broadcast only based upon hateful and invasive wiretaps, plotted with a pre-existent motive. Secondly, to all those that made money from the gossip business, shameless of the imaginary and abject pairings and searches for hidden motives, only to hurt and add salt to the wounds".

    "I have never doubted Silvio Berlusconi as an entrepreneur and a politician. This is what interests me as an Italian citizen, the wish for a country led by someone able to carry out reform and change. Enough with all this gossiping!. The paradox is that there have never been so many laymen running wild, supporting sexual freedom and 'my body my choice' ideologies, careful and decisive organizers of that masqueraded kermess known as the Gay Pride, launching anathemas and seeking support among Catholics and the Vatican, to reach the single objective that they will never publicly announce: take the Premier's place and erase all that has been done."

    (*) Noemi and D'Addario were at the center of other recent sexual scandals that involved the Prime Minister.

     * * *

    Ruby and Berlusconi, We can't allow the magistrates to win - by Mario Galardi
    Italia Chiama Italia Tue, 25 Jan 2011 16:24:00

    The persecution of the Prime Minister ... traces what at one time happened to Craxi, and is supported by an almost identical coalition, formed by magistrates, ex-Communists, ex-Fascists, and by the same bad teachers that, albeit having supported for decades sexual freedom and homologated homosexuals, transsexuals and bisexuals, are now trying to give out unacceptable lessons of ethics and good-doing. These are the same people that patronised the de-Christianization of our country and Europe, but that now are willing to tug at the Pope's and Cardinals' coat, if they believe they can use their interventions for their own political battles, carried out with the sliest of methods. Today, in spite of the well known "privacy", sexual behaviours are investigated and exposed, spiced up with statements retracted soon after, and unproven hypotheses. When added to the many trials and hundreds of searches and hearings that Berlusconi has had to undergo since the beginning of his political career, it should by now be evident to everyone, at least to those whose judgement isn't darkened by political partiality, that the Prime Minister is the object of a media-judicial attack, that cannot not have political motivations.

    Certain ingenuities can be criticized, and certain friendships of the president can be more or less pleasant, but it cannot be said that these could have weakened or worsened his work commitment, in which Berlusconi is second to no one.

    We cannot let this battle be won by certain magistrates and the media on their side. If disgracefully the government should fall, let us prepare to win the elections again, so the modernization of the country doesn't get interrupted.

    * * *

    Ruby and Berlusconi, Let's look inside ourselves and leave the government alone - by Margherita Genovese
    Italia Chiama Italia Tue, 25 Jan 2011 01:48:00

    What does a change of government team have to do with the parties at Arcore? The program must be completed, and we don't care if the one to do it uses Viagra or uses hair shirt. We won't be fooled by a couple of smart Alecs: there is a trick and it is evident, and we won't give up to Fini's vindictive manoeuvring, who controls the Italian magistrates every day of the year.

    Yes. Berlusconi is an old pig, no more and no less than the "old" Dean who would call me in his office with the most ridiculous excuses, the "old" gynaecologist who, during my first months of pregnancy, showed himself to be so gallant to make me find a different doctor, the "old" politician friend of my husband's who rubbed his foot against mine under the table. And certainly none of them dared to think of a commerce, but simply acted as a still active male, possibly devoted. The Cavaliere, in his ingenuity, understands that those young beautiful women he invites to his house and exhibits in nightclub acts would never go to Arcore without a concrete and consistent price. These same girls that perform improbably and disturbingly, certainly wouldn't reveal their pathetic drooling in front of the young model or soccer player they obstinately long for. If they complain, they complain of that exchange which is their only resource, and in time, it becomes for them always more boring and heavy.

    So has the world turned, dear readers, for ever. And if we want freedom, and not Talebans at the head of the state, we have to think about it, first of all about school and families, and of building for our dear ones a small strong world immune of the ever growing temptations; we have to think about saving our children from dangerous friendships, misleading behaviours, painfully empty models that attack adolescents on all sides. Society's founding structure is made of examples, true, but these examples have to be given by us, first of all, day after day, without condemning the victims of error, using them instead to become an opportunity of reflection and overcoming within the family.

    The Premier cannot be held as the only one responsible for the movement of society towards foolishness; if the younger generations don't study and don't work, perhaps it would be good for families to ask themselves and look inside themselves. Poor Silvio, for as much as he is rich and powerful, belongs to a dense group of men that are convinced of remaining young forever: where? Between the legs! No hair, no teeth, no muscles, no strength, they transform into grotesque masks to convince themselves that they have found an elixir of eternal youth, which begins and ends inside their pants, where no young woman could adventure herself into, having already seen the rest.

    What can I say, dear friends? If we could give up to passing time and live the seasons of life without forcing their peculiarities, perhaps we could save something of this world and become more useful; because trying to look young can be right and healthy, but it doesn't mean acting young, pretending to subvert the passing of time, transforming into low levels of cabaret acts.

    Let us find our dignity back: I say this also to those modern grandmothers who offer themselves to public scorn in show led by Maria De Filippi or Teo Mammuccari, stupidly grateful to the presenters that massacre them making fun of their behaviours, not noticing that they have been exploited and tortured for the entertainment of the younger spectators.

    Are we disturbed by this? Not much. And certainly we aren't stupid. We await federalism, the reform of justice, with the civil responsibility of the judges: the song of the sirens that tempt Bossi with amorous proffers, as long as Berlusconi gets killed, mustn't find an ear. Let's hope that Bossi is wearing ear plugs.

  • Fatti e Storie

    “DireNapoli”. La visita del Cardinale Crescenzio Sepe a New York per raccontare il dolore e la speranza della sua città

    E’ d’obbligo cominciare la nostra conversazione dal “dolore” di Napoli, una città nota in tutto il mondo per le sue contraddizioni—commovente bellezza e disumana violenza. Napoli è una città sofferente…

    Napoli è una città esagerata. è una società caratterizzata dall’aggettivazione del troppo. Troppo disordinata, troppo calorosa, troppo bella. Troppo di tutto e troppo di niente. E questa sua dimensione esagerata la dice lunga sulla sua particolare capacità di raccontarsi, nel bene e nel male. Non è una città anomima. Non è una delle tante. Per il proprio destino e per la propria storia non può essere uguale. è profondamente diversa, in ogni caso e in ogni contesto. Nella sua milleanaria storia, sempre diversa. Una diversità che l’accomuna a solo poche città nel mondo. Poche città sono così famose per tante cose insieme. Per la musica, la canzone, il paesaggio, il clima; per il fascino della sua arte presepiale e per il sangue di San Gennaro—che tra i tanti flussi sanguigni aggrumati è l’unico con quella particolare consistenza... O per i napoletani che, come gli ebrei, restano napoletani, mai completamente integrati in tutte le parti del mondo dove vanno, perchè c’è una precedenza di popolo nel sentimento di appartenenza. E cosi è più facile che un napoletano emigri in America e impari l’inglese, senza aver mai imparato l’Italiano.

         E Napoli è un troppo esagerato anche di bellezze. Non solo paesaggistiche ma anche storiche, architettoniche, archeologiche. è difficile pensare ad altri posti come Ercolano o Pompei, dove metti le mani tra i broccoli e i friarelli e trovi le anfore. è un troppo esagerato. Se tu giri il mondo, vedi tanti posti dove intorno ad una colonna, unica memoria di qualche passato latino, si costruisce un museo. A Napoli ci sono tante ricchezze ad ogni angolo, che spesso le abbandoniamo. E le mura di Pompei crollano! E’ troppo. Un troppo di bellezze e questo troppo genera paradossalmente un’incapacità di gestirle. Il troppo, nella sua esagerazione, diventa in qualche modo anche ingestibile. Ricordo quello che Goethe diceva nel suo “Viaggio in Italia” quando arrivò a Napoli. Sorpeso dalla sua bellezza paradisiaca e della difficoltà di gestione di questa bellezza da parte dei “diavoli”, che erano i napoletani. E non dimentichiamo come Stendhal, all’inizio del diciottesimo secolo, parlasse di Napoli come di una delle piu’ belle capitali d’Europa… e quando ci fu l’Unità d’Italia disse che “l’unica capitale d’Italia è Napoli.”

          Questo troppo genera passione, sregolatezza, affezione, capacità straordinaria di commozione, ma anche invidia, gelosia, voglia di deportare, di portare altrove. E così Napoli non ha mai avuto, se non probabilmente con un breve flash nel 1700, un “governo di dentro”. Ha avuto sempre un governo da fuori. Ha avuto altri che sono venuti ad occuparla. E la cosa più drammatica è che da quando c’è stata l’unità d’Italia, e poi fino alla democrazia, ancora una volta c’è sato chi è venuto da fuori a prendere, piuttosto che a portare. Sì sono stati portati un sacco di fondi a Napoli, ma la vera tragedia di Napoli è che perfino i napletani, che dicono di amare la loro terra sono stati i primi a tardirla. Perche’ non la rispettano fino in fondo come madre. Questo e’ il dolore di Napoli.

    Non dipende da quello che una volta si chiamava il ‘modello di sviluppo’ che è stato scelto per Napoli? Molti dicono che questa città è stata spinta verso un tipo di sviluppo sociale ed economico che non è coerente con la sua cultura e la sua storia, e che questo ha creato contraddizioni insormontabili.

    Certo, fin dall’inizo del ‘900, al tempo di Nitti, quando si ragionava se il destino di Napoli fosse turistico o industriale, e si scelse la linea industrialista. Una scelta che ha portato frutti, certamente, ma ha seppellito la vocazione di Napoli, quella di essere particolare, unica, irripetibile, cercando invece di renderla uguale. Anche dopo, la politica dei politici napoletani ha sempre tentato di traghettare Napoli verso il Nord, mentre invece doveva dare a Napoli la sua collocazione giusta di città del Mediterraneo. Questo e’ il punto nevralgico. Per potersi sviluppare davvero, per poter avere un propio futuro, Napoli non puo’ essere uguale, deve essere e mantrenersi diversa. È l’originalità di Napoli che deve sposare lo sviluppo.

          Anche oggi in tempo di globalizzaione Napoli soffre di più perchè la globalizzazione non è patrimonio della sua cultura. Un esempio: la globalizzazione porta il supermcato. Ma a Napoli il supermercato offende la piccola bottega, e la dinamicità di una ecomomia della piccola bottega. Al limite a Napoli puoi avere la casba, in un temrine più ampio il mercatino meridionale, cioè l’individualità che sposa il collettivo—non una collettività imprigionata in una struttura di servizio che rende a pochi e fa danno a molti.

    Ci vorrebbe un bel po’ di “coraggio politico” per sostenere queste tesi e tradurle in un programma d’azione concreo…

    Direi che il problema della politica napoletana è stata quella di non capire la napoletanita’ della politica. E’ cosi quando c’è stato il terremoto, e si è trasformato in un grande businnes, gli altri hanno capito come fare denaro. Molti sono venuti dal Nord in quest’area doganalmente favorevole, hanno creato dei capannoni in Campania, ma li hanno svuotati di progresso, di prospettive occupazionali, hanno portato al Nord i capitali creati qui, e così è nato il Nord Est. E’ sempre andata cosi.

         C’è un’indagine di Paolo Savona, ecomista e ministro del governo Ciampi, che usa la metafora della pentola bucata. Dice che se è vero che ci sono dei flussi di denaro che dal Nord vengono al Sud, è anche vero anche che l’ottanta per cento dell’economia del Nord è mantenuta in qualche modo dal Sud. Dobbiamo capire se dobbiamo essere solo un luogo in cui importare il benessere degli altri perchè gli altri stiano bene, o cominciare ad avere una politica, un’economia e uno sviluppo “alla napoletana”.

          Ecco da dove viene la necessità di “dire Napoli” in maniera diversa.

    Dunque nella vostra iniziativa—“direNapoli”—la città non è solo oggetto di discorso, ma diventa un soggetto che parla al mondo? Parla del suo dolore, ma anche della sua speranza…

    Dolore e speranza sono legati. Io sono convinto che Napoli può dire ancora tanto, se elaborerà un proprio discorso. A Napoli ci sono tutti campi d’intervento possibile: problemi enormi, ma esaltanti da risolvere, e di grande soddisfazione per chi li risolverà. E’ per questo che Napoli diventa una sfida mondiale. Qui si anticipano i problemi che altri avranno successivamente. Noi siamo esagerati in tutto. Anche da questo punto di vista.

         Sono convinto che appena troveremo la prima soluzione le altre verranno come catene di un rosario. Una appresso all’altra. Sono convinto che a Napoli i problemi si risolvono risolvendo il primo. Perchè farà rinascere la fiducia e la speranza.

          Il vero problema è mediare il discorso grande con dei risultati piccoli. è possible decodificare il termine dell’insoddisfazione e tradurlo con una parola di speranza a condizione che si raggiungano gradualmente dei piccoli risultati. Anche dei micro-risultati, che dicano che ce la possiamo fare. Sono convinto che proprio Napoli può diventare una sfida per il mondo se capiamo che nel tempo della globalizzazione vale la pena essere singoli, che nel tempo della complessità vale la pena essere semplici. Che nel tempo della massificazione è possible essere individuali, che nel tempo della parola unica ci sia invece la parola diversa. Credo che dovremmo imparare ad offrire al mondo la nostra storia come una storia possible, che valga anche per altri tipi di contesti urbani. Le periferie che avanzano al centro della città, la non integrazione tra alta Napoli e bassa Napoli, l’occupazione, la spazzatura, la delinquenza, la legalità, la corruzione—e nello stesso tempo la famiglia, l’accoglienza, la generosità, l’estro, la fantasia …c’è troppo e troppo, bisogna trovare una via di mezzo, una via possible che rispetti questa orignalità, che non la offenda.

    E qual è il ruolo della Chiesa in questo contesto? Perchè la Chiesa di Napoli dovrebbe prendere su di sè il peso di una sfida titanica che ha anche, mi sembra, un carattere socio-politico?
    Ma cosa significa amare? Se il comandamento del Maestro e’ ama gli altri come te stesso, e proviene dalla antica radice del valore umano che non bisogna mai fare agli altri quello che non vuoi sia fatto a te stesso, come posso cantare i carmi del signore in terra straniera? Io per poter predicare il Vangelo devo annunciare l’amore, ma per poter vivere l’amore devo essere capace di verità e quindi di giustizia. E’ una grande sfida quella della Chiesa. Non puo’ restare chiusa nelle mura, nei suoi edifici quando tutto crolla. E poi ragioniamoci su: se la Chiesa interviene dopo un terremoto, nessuno si meraviglia che essa faccia di tutto, con le proprie strutture, per essere al servizio di chi sta sotto le macerie. Ma ci sono più macerie di quelle che vediamo intorno a noi, a Napoli? Ecco che il ruolo della Chiesa diventa un ruolo politico, ma che non ha niente a che vedere con la politica, diciamo così, dei partiti. Deriva dalla sua necessità di vivere la città in ragione del Vangelo. Ecco perchè la Chiesa promuove un impegno per dire una Napoli diversa. Perchè ama i napoletani. È Chiesa di Napoli, è incarnata qui. È posta in questo territorio. Non può fare diversamente.
    Dunque questo ruolo “politico” della Chiesa si trasforma, nella circostanza di questo viaggio del Cardinale, in un fenomeno di comunicazione. Politica è dire. E il Cardinale di Napoli si mette in viaggio pr “dire Napoli”…
    Il Vangelo è comunicazione. Mica è un fatto intimo! Daltronde il primo a crare una rete mondiale di comunicazione è stato Gesù, quando ha detto ai suoi discepoli: lanciate la rete tra gli uomini. Ne ha presi dodici e li ha mandati in dodici parti diverse del mondomallora conosciuto. Lo stesso hanno fatto altri discepoli, che ne hanno mandati altri da altre parti. Il Vangelo è una notizia che deve correre.
         E’ ovvio dunque che la Chiesa deve fare una politica di comunicazione, che non è una politica narcisistica, di ostentazione. Abbiamo bisogno di un passa-parola formidabile per raccontare la verità in un tempo in cui spesso le menzogne sono più accreditate. E allora se io voglio dire Napoli, certo non nascondo il dolore di questa città, ma voglio anche in qualche modo raccontarne la speranza, il riscatto, la bellezza. Io credo per esempio che si possa e si debba parlare di Gomorra, ma è anche vero che io devo raccontare di una Napoli che vive e che palpita, che soffre e giosce, che spera. Va fatto tutto questo, è legittimo, ma insieme alla parte malata di Napoli va raccontata la parte buona. Che è quella della speranza.

  • Facts & Stories

    “DireNapoli.” The visit of Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe to New York to tell the world about his city’s pains and hopes.

    Let us start with Naples, the city is known for its contradictions—moving beauty and sheer violence, pain and hope.

    Naples is too much. It is an exaggerated city, a society typified by the use of excessive adjectives. It is too disorderly, too warm, too beautiful. Too much of everything—and of nothing. And this exaggerated dimension says much about its particular ability to narrate itself for good or bad. It is all but an anonymous city. It isn’t one of many cities. Because of its destiny and its own history it cannot be common. It is deeply different, in every case and every situation. In all, its thousands of years it has been different. It shares such diversity with very few cities of the world. Very few cities are this famous for so many things: the music, the songs, the landscape, the climate; the fascination with its crèche art and the blood of San Gennaro – the only one among many curdled bloodstreams to have that particular consistency... Also, for the Neapolitans themselves who, like the Jews, remain Neapolitans always, never completely integrated in any part of the world, because their being a people takes precedence over anything else in defining their sense of belonging. And so it is easy for a Neapolitan to have emigrated to America and learned English, without having ever learned Italian.
         And Naples is “too much” also because of its beauties—not only natural but historical, architectural, archeological. It is difficult to imagine other places like Hercolanum or Pompeii, where you bend down to pick up broccoli or friarelli and find amphorae. Too much of everything. If one travels around the world, one sees many places where a museum is built around a single memory of a Latin past; it could even be a column. In Naples there are so many treasures on every corner that they are usually abandoned. And the walls of Pompeii are crumbling! It is simply too much. An excess of beauties, which paradoxically causes the incapacity of managing them. Excess itself becomes unmanageable. I remember what Goethe said in his “Italian Journey” when he arrived in Naples. He was surprised by its heavenly beauty and by the difficulties in managing this beauty by the “devils”, meaning the Neapolitans. Not to mention how Stendhal, in the early Nineteenth century, spoke of Naples as one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe... and when Italy was unified he said that “Naples is the only capital of Italy.”
         This excess generates passion, loose living, affection, an extraordinary emotional capacity, but also envy, jealousy, a wish to deport, to take away. Therefore, except for a brief moment in the 1700s, Naples never had a government “of its own.” It always had one from the outside. Others who came and conquered it. And the most dramatic aspect is that since Italian unification 150 years ago and throughout its history, including the democratic republic, once again others came to take—without giving. While many funds were brought to Naples, the city's true tragedy is that the Neapolitans themselves were the first to betray the city they are supposed to love so much. This is because we do not respect it entirely, as our mother. This is the pain of Naples.

    Doesn’t this depend on what was once called the “model of development” that has been chosen for Naples? Many say that this city has been pushed towards a type of social and economic development that is grossly inconsistent with its culture, and this has created intractable contradictions.

    Certainly. Since the early 1900s, in the times of Nitti, in trying to decide whether Naples’s future was to be based on tourism or industry, the latter was chosen. This choice brought some results, but buried the city's vocation, its being typical, unique, unrepeatable, by trying to make it common. Afterwards, the policies of Neapolitan politicians always tried to pull Naples northward, while they should have given Naples its rightful collocation as a Mediterranean city. This is the crucial point. To truly develop, to have its own future, Naples cannot be common, it must stay different. And any type of development must go hand in hand with the originality of Naples.
         Today, in the globalized world, Naples suffers more because globalization is not part of its culture. An example: globalization brings the supermarket; but the supermarket offends the small shops of Naples, and the dynamics of that economy. At most, Naples could have a casba, a broader term for the southern market, a place where, in other words, individuality goes hand in hand with community—not a community imprisoned in a service structure that helps few and hurts many.

    It would take a lot of political courage to assert this view and translate it into action…

    I think that the problem with Neapolitan politics was not being able to understand the Neapolitan-ness of politics. So when there was the famous, devastating earthquake in 1980—which was quickly transformed in a great business—others understood how to make money from it. Many came from the North of Italy in this tax-favorable area, they built warehouses in Campania, but emptied them of progress, local jobs, and brought the capital created here up North, and that is how Italy’s North-East was born. It has always been this way.
         An inquiry by Paolo Savona, economist and former minister of the Ciampi government in the 1990s, used the metaphor of the leaking pot. He said that while it is true that there is a flow of money from North to South, it is also true that 80% of the Northern economy is maintained somehow by the South. We must figure out if we should only be a place in which to import the wellbeing of others, in their own interest, or begin to have a truly “Neapolitan” politics, economy and development.
         Here lies the necessity of “Telling Naples” in a different way.

    Therefore, with your initiative—“DireNapoli”—the city isn’t only the object of speech, but it becomes the subject that talks to the world. It speaks the truth about its pain but, as you often underline, it also speaks about its hopes…

    Pain and hope are linked. I am convinced that Naples has yet a lot to say, if it can elaborate its own public discourse. Naples hosts every possible point of intervention: enormous but thrilling problems to be resolved, which would bring great satisfaction to whoever solves them. This is why Naples becomes a global challenge. Here, problems are anticipated that might hit others afterwards. We are exaggerated in everything. Also in this. I am convinced that as soon as we find the first solution the others will follow like rosary chains. One tied to the other. I am convinced that if you solve the first problem of Naples, you solve all of them, because it will give birth to trust and hope.
         The real challenge is to be able to connect great debates and small results. It is possible to decipher the words of today’s widespread dissatisfaction and translate it into action with a word of hope, on the condition that small results begin to follow. Even if they are microscopic, they must show that we can make it. I am convinced that Naples itself can become a challenge for the world if we understand that in these years of globalization it pays off to be individuals, and that in complicated times it pays off to be simple, that in times of unilateral opinions, there exist different points of view. I believe we should learn to offer our history to the world as a feasible model that can work also in other urban contexts. The suburbs that advance towards the city center, the non-integration between upper-class and lower-class Naples, the occupation, the garbage, the crime rate, the unlawfulness, the corruption—and at the same time the family, the welcoming, the generosity, the creativity, the imagination … there is too much of too much. We must find a feasible middle way that respects Naples’ originality, one that does not offend it.

    So what is the role of the Catholic Church in all this? Why would the Church of Naples take upon itself such seemingly titanic socio-political challenges?

    What does love mean? If the commandment says to love others as you would love yourself, and comes from the ancient root of human value that nothing must be done to others that you wouldn’t want to be done to yourself, how can I sing the psalms of the Lord in a foreign land? To predicate the Gospels I must announce love, but to live love I must be able to be true and therefore just. The Church’s is a great challenge. It cannot stay closed within its walls, in its buildings, while everything around it collapses. And then let’s think about it: if the Church intervenes after an earthquake, no one is surprised by the fact that it does everything possible, with its structures, to help those under the ruins. But are there more ruins than the ones we see, here in Naples? That is why the role of the Church becomes political, but it has nothing to do with party politics. It comes from its need to live the city according to the Gospel. That is why the Church promotes commitment in telling a different Naples. Because it loves the Neapolitans. It is the Church of Naples, it is embodied here. It is placed in this territory and cannot do otherwise.

    Thus, such a “political” role of the Church becomes in these circumstances a phenomenon of communication. Politics is telling. And the Cardinal of Naples is travelling the world to “Tell Naples”.

    The Gospels are communication. It isn’t an intimate fact! Also, the first to create a global communication network was Jesus, when he told his disciples “Launch your net among the peoples!” He chose twelve and sent them in twelve different directions around the known world of the time. The same was done by other disciples, who sent others somewhere else. The Gospel is a piece of news that must travel.
         Therefore, it is obvious that the Church must develop its own politics of communication, neither narcissistic nor ostentatious. We need to spread the formidable word to tell the truth in a time in which lies are often more qualified. So if I want to Tell Naples, I certainly don’t hide the pain of this city, but I also want to somehow tell its hope for redemption, and its beauty. I believe that, for example, we must speak about Gomorra but also about a Naples that lives, pulsates, suffers, celebrates, waits and hopes. All this must be done, it is legitimate, but alongside the sick part of Naples, the good side must also have a voice. That is the hope of Naples.

  • “Dire Napoli al mondo”. Il Cardinale Crescenzio Sepe parla del suo imminente viaggio a New York

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    Il viaggio che lei si appresta a compiere il prossimo gennaio e che la porterà anche a New York, ha un titolo "Dire Napoli" ed uno slogan "Non chiudere le porte alla Speranza".

    Perchè dire Napoli nel mondo, e perchè cominciare da New York?

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    “Dire Napoli” significa raccontare Napoli nella sua cruda realta’ che certamente e’ fatta da tante ombre, ma ache da tante luci. Perchè New York? Perchè a New York c’e’ un cuore di Napoli, c’e’ un cuore della Campania.

    New York non è solo l’inizio, è anche l’arrivo di un cammino che ho percorso nel mondo, dove `raccontando Napoli, città multiculturale, interculturale. New York è la capitale economica degli Stati Uniti, ma anche il centro di un mondo che gira intorno alla realtà americana.

    Racccontare Napoli lì, a degli interlocutori che hanno una sensibilità particolare perchè napoletani o figli di napoletani, nel posto dove hanno poturo realizzare le loro potenzialità, contribuendo alla crescita di questa grandissima nazione di questa celeberrima città, significa dare un’eco universale al nostro scopo di mostrare Napoli così com’è.

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    Il suo viaggio sarà preceduto da una inedita mostra dell’arte presepiale napoletana, con decine di pezzi unici che saranno esposti nelle sale dell’Istituto Italiano di Cultura a partire dal 14 dicembre. Che significato ha questa mostra all’interno di “Dire Napoli”?

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    E’ un esempio del nostro modo di comunicare. Proprio l’arte presepiale fa di Napoli la capitale del mondo. E’ un’arte che ha visto coinvolti re, regine, nobiltà, gente del popolo. Un’arte che era realmente incarnata nel territorio. Il presepe napoletano non è solo la rappresentazione della sacra famiglia—San Giuseppe, la Madonna, il Bambino—ma è stato arricchito dall’intera realtà esistenziale, concreta della nostra gente.

    Con questa mostra New York diventa la sede della prima esposizione internazionale di quest’arte fortemente espessiva, che parla direttamnete alla gente. Quando vedranno queste immagini dei presepi i visitatori capiranno anche meglio l’originalità, ma anche l’identità del nostro popolo napoletano.

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    Un paio d'anni fa lei fece scalpore dichiarando che Napoli era sprofondata «in una delle notti più buie della sua storia». E il Cardinale di Napoli è oggi un uomo di punta nella denuncia del dolore di questa città. Ed è anche attivissimo nella ricerca delle cause e delle possibili  strade per un cammino di speranza. Cosa vede e cosa può fare la Chiesa per questa città?

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    La chiesa  ha esaminato in profondità la situazione della città, perchè avvicina la gente, conosce la gente, e sente anche le grida che vengono da tante persone, soprattutto dai giovani che vogliono dei segni  di speranza concreti, pratici, in modo da non arrivare a quell’abbattimento, a quel pessimismo, a quella rinuncia totale che diventa poi una disperazione alla quale diffcilmente si porebbe dare una risposta. E per questo che ho invitato tutti, tutti quelli che sono responsabili, le istituzioni, ma anche ogni singolo cittadino, a rimboccarsi le maniche. Perchè solo con la collaborazione di tutti, solo cercando di fare sinergia, di mettere insieme le nostre potenzialità, noi possiamo sconfiggere le tenebre. Al di là delle emergenze quotidiane, dobbiamo trovare una soluzione a monte. E io credo che la soluzione sia proprio l’educazione, la  formazione—nelle famiglie, nelle scuole e nella chiesa.

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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 11pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } Un momento cruciale della sua visita sarà l’incontro con il Rabbino Arthur Schneier, un altro religioso che ha fatto del dialogo tra le fedi la sua ragione di vita. Lo incontrerà nella stessa Sinagoga di Park Avenue visitata nel 2008 dal papa Benedetto XVI. Che significato ha per Lei e per Napoli questo incontro con la comunità ebraica?

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    Sono molto contento  di poter incontrare il rabbino perchè conosco per fama la sua apertura in questo campo e New York costituisce un po’ il cuore anche di questo dialogo inter-religioso.

    Nei miei viaggi in Asia, in Africa, in America Latina quando ero Prefetto della Congregazione per l’Evengelizzazione dei Popoli, ho sempre avuto occasione di incontrare i rappresentanti delle comunità ebraiche ed abbiamo avuto sempre dei cordiali, sinceri rapporti di amicizia.

    E la stessa comunità ebraica qui a Napoli è per me un punto di riferimento. Abbiamo costituito anche dei comitati, ci vediamo diverse volte all’anno, dialoghimo. Direi che è una sinergia molto interessante. Noi come Chiesa Cattolica ci mettiamo a disposizione per tutte le loro esigenze, e nello stesso tempo ci arricchiamo anche di questo dialogo.

    E per questo è un onore particolare per me incontrare il Rabbino Schneier, perchè vorremmo che questo cammino che abbiamo intrapreso sia sostanziato dall’apporto di un dialogo franco trasparente e sincero con i nostri fratelli maggiori, i nostri fratelli ebrei.

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    Il suo viaggio toccherà anche il tema sociale difficilissimo e delicato, oggi, delle migrazioni umane, dell'accettazione dell' “altro”. Ne parlerà in una tavola rotonda organizzata dal Calandra Italian American Institute della City University of New York. Lei ha spesso denunciato le difficoltà di accoglienza dei migranti in tutto il mondo….

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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 11pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } Ritengo particolarmente interessante la possibilità di partecipare a questa tavola rotonda, perchè affronta uno dei problemi più delicati, più attuali, più emergenti  della nostra società. E’ un fenomeno ormai globalizzato, e purtroppo constatiamo che fin quando si tratta di mercati, di commercializzare prodotti, sembra che non ci siano tanti problemi. Quando invece si tratta di accoglienza di uomini che vivono situazioni particolari, difficili, allora certi problemi emergono. Il motivo secondo me è che ancora non c’è una filosofia, una categoria mentale di vera e propria accoglienza dell’altro, di chi viene da fuori.

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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 11pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } Lei parteciperà anche ad un altro incontro, presso la Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò della New York University. Questo sarà dedicato alla “rappresentazione” di Napoli, e la vedrà dialogare con esponenti del mondo della comunicazione e della cinematografia che si sono occupati di Napoli. L’obiettivo è di comunicare un’immagine di Napoli che, senza negarne il dolore, mostri anche le strade della speranza?

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    Napoli è una cartolina. Con i suoi chiaroscuri. Ed ha suscitato sempre un particolare interesse da un punto di vista cinematografico, artistico e culturale. E ci sono stati tanti produttori, attori, artisti che hanno contribuito ad una rappresentazione di Napoli con un carattere di realismo, che focalizzava certamente i punti oscuri, ma anche le potenzialità di questa città: la sua cordialità, la sua apertura… diciamo anche i colori, i sapori, i canti di Napoli. E la sua grande realtà culturale. Questo è il modo in cui anche noi vogliamo dire Napoli, contribuendo ad una rappresentazione realistica di questa città, con le sue luci e le sue ombre, appunto.

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    Lei non si fa problemi ad utilizzare in varie occasioni espressioni dialettali, e le piace salutare i suoi fedeli dicendo: « 'A Maronna v’accumpagna ». Qual è il suo rapporto con Napoli e la “napoletanità”, anche nella sua versione più popolare, sia religiosa che laica?

    Io sono napoletano, sono nato a venti chilometri da Napoli. E sento tutto l’orgoglio di queste mie origini e spero il signore mi darà la forza di continuare a sentire fino all’ultimo giorno della mia vita questa esigenza di stare con la gente, di parlare con la gente,  di tastare il polso delle situazioni concrete della mia gente. E ritengo naturale anche esprimermi nella lingua della mia gente, che è la mia lingua, è anche segno di cultura.

    Il giorno in cui ho preso possesso della sede di Napoli, alla fine della mia prima omelia nella cattedrale, ho usato questa espessione che mi è stata insegnata da mamma. I primissimi ricordi di quando ero bambino, quando lei mi metteva il grembiulino, la cartella a tracollo perchè dovevo andare a scuola… un bacio sulla fronte  e poi quell’augurio, che è satata anche l’ultima parola che mi ha detto prima di morire « 'A Maronna t’accumpagna ». Allora vorrei fare questo augurio a tutti coloro che ci ascoltano e a tutta la bella, famosa città di New York, agli Stati Uniti e naturalmente a tutti gli italiani e soprattutto a napoletani, ai campani di New York: « 'A Maronna v’accumpagna ».

  • Facts & Stories

    “Telling Naples to the World”. Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe on His Imminent Visit to New York

    You are about to start your journey entitled “Dire Napoli” and your message is that this city, although deeply hurt, should not lose hope. Why do you want to tell Naples to the world and why will you start from New York?

    Dire Napoli means telling the world about the stark reality of my city: in all its darkness but also in all its splendor. Why New York? Because, due to massive emigration, today in New York you can find a pulsing heart of Naples, a pulsing heart of Campania.
    Coming to New York is not only a beginning, it is also the culmination of my traveling around the world to talk about Naples—a multi-cultural, an inter-cultural city. New York is the financial capital of the U.S., certainly, but it is also the center of a world that revolves around America. “Telling Naples” there—to people who have a partucular sensitivity to the subject because they are Neapolitans or descendants of Neapolitans, who have had the possibility to fulfill their potential and to contribute to the growth of that great nation in that famous city—means to give a universal dimension to our effort to show Naples as it really is.

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    Your journey will be accompanied by an original exhibition of unique pieces of Neapolitan Crèche art. How can this exhibition contribute to the main goal of Dire Napoli?

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    The exibition we are organizing together with the Italian Cultural Institute is one example of our way to communicate our city, which is the world capital of crèche art. Historically, Neapolitan crèche art involves everybody: kings, queens, noblemen and ordinary people alike.
    Crèche art is rooted, embodied in our territory. It isn’t just the Holy Family—Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus—represented here, but also the entire reality of our people.
    Thus New York will be the scene of the first international exhibition of this very expressive art,
    that speaks directly and concretely to the people. When they will see these samples of crèche art, visitors will understand better the originality and the identity of the Neapolitan people.

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    A couple of years ago you made the headlines by saying that Naples had entered «one of the darkest nights of its history”». You are also a front man in the denounciation of your city’s many sufferings as well as in the search for possible solutions. What can the Church do for Naples?

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    The Church has examined deeply the situation of our city, for it is close to our people, it understands them. The Church listens to their cries for help, especially from the young people
    who are hungry for real, concrete signs of hope so that we avoid dejection, pessimism, renunciation
    and a sense of desperation where a positive answer is no longer possible.
    For this reason I have invited everyone, the institutions as well as each individual citizen, to roll up their sleeves. Only by collaborating, by working together, shall we be able to create the kind of synergy, of unity, that will allow us to overcome darkness. We need to find real solutions,
    beyond our day-to-day state of emergency. And these I believe lie in education: at home, in the Church, and in the schools.

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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 11pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } A crucial moment of your visit will be the meeting with Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a religious leader who has made inter-faith dialogue his primary goal. You will meet him in the same Park East Synagogue where Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit in 2008. What is the meaning of this meeting?

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    I am very happy to be able to meet Rabbi Schneier in New York, because his openness to inter-religious dialogue is world renown. He dedicated his entire life to this and New York is the center of inter-religious conversation.
    During my journeys as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to Asia, Africa, and Latin America, I had many chances to meet representatives of the Jewish communities and always developed cordial and sincere friendships.
    Even the Jewish community in Naples is a reference point to me. We built committees, see each other several times a year, we dialogue. I believe it is a very interesting synergy. As the Catholic Church, we put ourselves at their disposal for every need, and at the same time we enrich ourselves from this dialogue.
    Because of this it is a particular honor for me to meet rabbi Schneier, because we would like this journey to be reinforced by the contribution of a sincere and transparent dialogue with our older Jewish brothers.

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    Your journey will also approach the difficult and delicate social them of human migration, of the acceptance of the “other”. You will speak about this at a round table organized by the Calandra Italian American Institute at the City University of New York. You have frequently denounced the difficulties of accepting immigrantes all around the world...

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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 11pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } I find it particularly interesting to be able to take part in this round-table because it deals with one of the most pressing and complex issues that we face today. At this point, human migration is a global phenomenon. Regrettably, it seems that as long as we are dealing with markets and products,
    with the the circulation of money and goods, everything goes well enough.
    Yet when it comes to receiving and accommodating people men and women in difficult circumstances there emerge so many difficulties and concerns.
    This happens, I believe, because we still lack a philosophical category of acceptance, a mentality whereby we are able to accept the “other”, men and women who are stranger to us.

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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 11pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } You will also be participating in another meeting, at New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. This will be dedicated to the “representation” of Naples, and you will be discussing this with representatives of the world of communication and cinema that have dealt with Naples. Is the objective to communicate an image of Naples that, without hiding its pain, will also show the paths to hope?

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    Naples is a postcard. It has its chiaroscuri. It has always evoked a certain interest from a cinematographical, artistic and cultural point of view. And there have been many producers, actors and artists that have contributed to a representation of Naples with a realist hue, certainly focusing on the dark aspects, but also on the potential of this city: its kindness, its openness... in other words the colors, tastes, and songs of Naples. And also its great cultural aspect. This is the way we want to tell Naples, contributing to a realistic representation of this city, with both its lights and shadows.

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    You seem to be proud to speak the Neapolitan dialect—something that not everybody is in your city. And you often like to greet your followers with the phrase «'A Maronna v’accumpagna» (May the Holy Virgin be with You). What is your relationship to Naples and to being Neapolitan?

    I am Neapolitan. I was born about 12 miles outside of Naples. I am very proud of my roots and I feel an intense connection to my city and I pray that God will give me the strength, through the end of my days, to continue to live amongst my people, to engage with them directly, to experience their lives in the most concrete way possible. And this also means expressing myself in the dialect of our region, our native tongue. I believe that language is a sign of culture.
    When I first became the Cardinal of Napoli, at the end of my first homily in the Cathedral
    I used this expression that I learned from my mother… It is one of my oldest memories, when I was a kid and she prepared me to go to school, she used to kiss me on the forhead and tell me… it was also the last thing she told me before she died: « 'A Maronna t’accumpagna.»
    And I want to say the same to all those who are watching us, to the whole Unitied States, to the beautiful, famous city of New York, and to all Italians who live there, in particular to the Neapolitans of New York: « 'A Maronna v’accumpagna ».

  • Facts & Stories

    Games, Media, and Politics. Does "Mafia II" Defame Italian Americans? Interview with Andre' DiMino

    Mafia II—a much-anticipated, high quality videogame that is just being released by Take Two Interactive, chronicles the rise of Vito Scaletta, the son of Sicilian immigrants. The official presentation describes the story as follows: “Born the son of a poor immigrant, Vito is a beaten down Italian American who is trying to secure his piece of the American Dream. Looking to escape the life of poverty that consumed his childhood, Vito is soon swayed by the lure of power and wealth that a life of Organized Crime can bring. A petty criminal his whole life, Vito, along with his childhood friend, Joe, will descend into the world of organized crime. Together, they will work to prove themselves to the Mob as they try to make their names on the streets of a cold and unforgiving city.”

    In mid-August, several Italian-American organizations started an anti-defamation campaign against the game, arguing that it offends and discriminates against Italian Americans by suggesting the equation Italian

    Americans = Mafia. The campaign grew to involve everybody however “associated” with the game—from New York’s Metropolitan Transport Authority, for allowing Mafia II advertising in subway stations, to 92nd Street Y cultural and community center for renting its facilities for a "Mafia II Launch Party" in Tribeca on August 28th. In the latter case, the protest risked evolving into an intra-ethnic controversy, given the fact that the 92nd Street Y is a Jewish association (its full name is the 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association.)

    Here we present the argument against the game through the words of Andrè DiMino, Chief Media Executive and Immediate Past National President of UNICO National,  the largest Italian American service organization, established in 1922. Mr DiMino, whos is CEO of Montvale Technologies in Northvale, NJ, is currently the President of Italian American One Voice Coalition. In the next few days we shall investigate the opposing viewpont.

    * * *

    Mr. DiMino, you are among the Italian-American community leaders who are organizing a protest against Mafia II. Would you explain to our readers the main reasons for your protest and what objectives you are planning to achieve?

    Early in August I learned about the upcoming release of the Mafia II video game.  I  then reviewed demos and previews on YouTube and other web sites and immediately sent a letter to Strauss Zelnick, Chairman of Take Two Interactive, the producers of the game.  In the letter I advised Mr. Zelnick that “…the game is an inappropriate and insulting perpetuation of the pervasive and denigrating stereotype of organized crime being the exclusive domain of Italians and Italian Americans.”  I continued,  “Why would you foist a game on a targeted audience of young people wherein you will indoctrinate a new generation into directly associating Italians and Italian Americans with violent, murderous organized crime, to the exclusion of all of the other ‘mafias’ run by other ethnic and racial groups.  Take Two is directly, blatantly and unfairly discriminating and demeaning one group to the exclusion of all others.  We are demanding you halt release of the game and cleanse it of all references to Italians and Italian Americans.”

    I asked for a meeting with Zelnick and his associates to discuss their insensitivity to Italian Americans and to hear what they would do about it. After not hearing from them for over 1 week, on August 18, we made the content of my letter public through a UNICO National press release, which was the start of the public opposition to this game. 

    Thereafter, I am very pleased that a number of other Italian American groups joined with us in opposing this disgraceful game.  These include The Coalition of Italian American Associations (CIAA) of NY, led by Dr. Joseph Scelsa; The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition, led by Dr. Manny Alfano; The Italian American Legal Defense and Higher Education Fund, led by Jack Como; The Italian American Political Action Committee, led by James L. Lisa; The NY Commission for Social Justice of OSIA, led by Stella Grillo; The National CSJ of OSIA, led by Santina Haemerle; and, other individuals and groups.  Meetings were held and a course of action planned.

    Mafia II perpetuates the negative stereotype directly and inexorably connecting violent, organized crime to being an Italian American.  The promos and story lines go into great detail about the characters coming here from Sicily and joining with other Italians in bloody, murderous crimes and nefarious activities as their only pursuits.  Although the negative stereotyping is being disclaimed by Take Two, and its’ misguided devotees, as a "period piece" or somehow, laughably, an "historical account" -  that belies the fact that in that period, and with accurate historical reference, the infinitesimally small percentage of Italian Americans in organized crime were second to more powerful and murderous criminals from other ethnic groups.  However, in all cases, it is the small percentage of Italians involved in crime during this period that are ubiquitous in the media and entertainment industry.  This, as is evident, has welded that negative perception into the collective consciousness.  If there is truly to be historical perspective, where are the stories about the extremely high relative percentage of Italian Americans who fought for this country in World War II and those that have contributed so much to this world and this country.  You just don't see or hear about that at all.

    Mafia II is the sequel of Mafia and there are dozens of Mafia- and mob-based games for PCs, game consoles, and even those for the Internet.  Are you aware of this larger phenomenon, and what do you think could be done about it?

    Of course I am aware of the ubiquity of these games – the proliferation and continuation of the denigration and negative stereotyping of Italian Americans is certainly easy fodder for profits. Enough is enough! We can not sit idly by and continue to ignore the continuous attack on our heritage and culture. Why is it OK for this to be so rampant about Italian Americans when you do not see it with other groups. And, specifically ignoring the fact that these games are targeted at young people, is not acknowledging that this is creating a whole new generation that directly and unequivocally connects Italian Americans with murderous, violent and sleazy organized crime.

    Zelnick should have had the courtesy to respond to me.  But, after seeing his publicly issued response, I can understand why he would not.  What ludicrous, self-serving pablum.  In his public statement specifically aimed at me he used words to describe his games like "Socially responsible" and "thoughtful"  Is he kidding?  He just can't be serious.  He "fully and completely" stands behind his creative team and "socially responsible" products?  Wait... is he referring to Grand Theft Auto, Bully, Manhunt and now Mafia 2?  Some of his games have been alleged to have caused shootings and violence. Perhaps he is the one living in a videogame! Unfortunately, although Zelnick can hide behind the "M" rating on this disgraceful game, we all know that millions of teens and pre-teens will be engrossed with playing Mafia II.  Consequently, we abhor the potential of a new generation being catalyzed into automatically associating Italian Americans with the disgusting thugs and violent bums who inhabit Mafia II.  It is just not fair or acceptable!

    For many, many years, UNICO has consistently and repeatedly fought negative stereotyping and defamation.   This has included protests against The Sopranos, Shark Tales, stereotypical advertisements, TV series, and many other media items.  Most recently, UNICO has been at the forefront in the very public campaign against MTV's Jersey Shore for which I made many, many media appearances.  You should know that UNICO was actually founded 88 years ago BECAUSE of discrimination against Italian Americans. Here we are, 88 years later and we now have to fight a new high-definition version of very detailed and realistic video games that negatively stereotypes Italian Americans.

    Besides the software company that produces Mafia II, your battle involves other targets. You criticized New York's Metropolitan Transport Authority for allowing Mafia II advertising in subway stations, as well as the 92nd Street Y cultural and community center for renting their facilities for a "Mafia II Launch Party." What are you planning to do and what have you achieved thus far?

    It is important for those that help to promote these attacks on our heritage to understand that they are complicit in these acts. The advertisements for Mafia II throughout the NY Subway system are viewed by millions of people, multiple times per day – again implanting the association of Italian Americans and the Mafia deep within the subconscious of all these people.

    The 92nd Street Y’s hosting of the Launch Party for Mafia II is another matter altogether. It is just incredible to think that such a venerable and respected institution would be so insensitive to allow this disgraceful attack on Italian Americans to be launched at their facility. It is just unthinkable and completely unacceptable that this would occur. If the tables were turned, the outcry would be immediate - and rightly so. Why should it be different for Italian Americans? The 92nd Street Y is making a huge mistake in being associated with this despicable situation.

    I, along with the other Italian American leaders, as well as several prominent Jewish organizations and individuals, have made significant efforts to professionally and courteously contact the executives at the 92nd Street Y, specifically Executive Director Sol Adler, to seek out a meeting with them to find a solution to this divisive problem.  Unfortunately, they have not acceded to our requests – although at first Adler did confirm by email to me that – “…we are in the process of working to resolve the situation so that the launch event for this video game does not take place at our institution.”  After sending congratulatory emails of thanks to him, he unfortunately, reversed his decision.

    Is there a similarity between this protest and other anti-defamation initiatives staged by Italian-American organizations such as the recent mobilization against the MTV show "Jersey Shore" or the historical protests against films like "The Godfather" or TV shows like "The Sopranos"?

    I firmly believe that there is a galvanization occurring in the Italian American community supporting our efforts at fighting stereotyping and denigration.  This is based upon what we directly experienced with our campaign against MTV’s disgraceful series “Jersey Shore.”   We received national and international exposure of our efforts and many, many Italian Americans, as well as many people from other ethnicities and groups, expressed their strong support for our fight against these attacks on our heritage and culture.  Our campaign included a concentrated public attack against MTV and the Jersey Shore encompassing securing many national advertisers to confirm publicly and in writing that they would not advertise on the series.  We maintained the pressure on MTV and its advertisers and I am so pleased that our efforts were so successful.  The result was that ALL of the references to Italian Americans and Italian symbolism and pejorative terms, so prevalent in the first season, were completely eliminated from the second season of Jersey Shore.  This confirms that our efforts can and do have an effect.

    Although there were similar protests and opposition to the Sopranos and other shows, I do believe the nature of Jersey Shore, being promoted as a “reality” show is, what brought such unanimity to the fight against it by so many Italian Americans.

    However, I do believe the Mafia II game is a very different situation.  This is due to the fact that, as opposed to a transient TV show, Mafia II will be played for hours and hours, day after day, week after week, and so on, by millions of young people, here in America and throughout the world.  This will be a thorough and effective brainwashing of a new generation into seeing Italian Americans as being directly and inexorably tied to the murderous, bloody, sleazy criminals that inhabit the Mafia II world. 

    What else in your opinion could the Italian-American community do to correct the way in which IAs are portrayed and perceived in this country--other than reacting to the events and try to censor offensive behavior when it takes place? In other words, where does “reaction” end and “pro-action” begin?

    You would be disingenuous to foster the idea that all we have done is be reactionary to these situations! On the contrary, Italian American organizations have a stellar record of promoting the positive things about Italian American heritage and culture. There have been millions of dollars and millions of hours expended by individuals and organizations, like UNICO National, in stressing the positives about our culture and heritage. As a matter of historical fact, UNICO National was actually founded because of discrimination against Italian Americans. But, instead of protesting that negative treatment, the philosophy and mission of UNICO National is for its volunteer members, across the country, to dedicate themselves to community service and charitable works - a positive form of anti-bias. Likewise, other IA organizations certainly have an outstanding record of service to the community.

    As we know, Italian Americans have an unparalleled record, throughout history, in contributing to the world and this country. After all, we discovered it, we named it and we built it– and we continue to make major contributions through the arts, food, politics, sports, business, science, architecture, and on and on. However, this is not what gets the attention of the media or entertainment media! We can shout from the highest mountain top about the incredible contributions of Italians and Italian Americans but what we continuously see is the pervasive stereotype of  mobsters, Mafiosi, bimbos and buffoons. 

    Enough is enough! We must diligently and relentlessly continue to campaign against the negative stereotyping and denigration of our heritage and culture. If not, we have to accept the fact that whenever anyone hears an Italian name or meets an Italian American, they will immediately perceive them to be equivalent to the stereotypical portrayals they see in all media.

    Perception is reality

    — and the perception being hammered in, each and every day, is the negative stereotype of Italians and Italian Americans. If you think this does not have an effect on Italian Americans, in such things as career advancement, community acceptance, social interactions and other venues, you are supremely naïve. Stereotyping is how you marginalize and demean a group of people thereby creating prejudice. We should not tolerate stereotyping of Italian Americans, or for that matter, any other group.

    In addition, it must be said that no one is promoting censorship. Instead, what we are seeking is fairness and equal treatment as compared to other ethnicities and groups. Why is it “off limits” to stereotype and demean other groups but Italian Americans must experience it every day?

    I am so proud to be an American!  And, I am proud of my Italian heritage.  I feel a duty and obligation to the memory of my parents, who came to this country for a better life, as well as to the coming generations of Italian American youth, to protect, defend, celebrate and respect Our Shared Heritage, Our Shared Pride.  I am hopeful that all Italian Americans will share that sentiment and not allow Italian Americans to continue to be the last ethnicity that it is OK to stereotype and denigrate.

  • Facts & Stories

    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

    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."

    Daniela Marianna C

    fb does not allow me to fully write how i feel about this new bill. i feel we are a nation that works on surrival of the fittest. my father came into this country over 20rys ago found a union job to make sure he and his family would be taken care of. i look for jobs that has health care offered. and my grandmother who is 89 yrs old finds it funny how pple who do not work will get the same privalages as pple who work. i already know private small companies who are talking about cutting their staff to 49 ppl so they won't get charged with the fine. we are a nation does not follow other nations, we always set the bar for other nations. I do not care what Canada or the eu is doing. we are america and we always revolutionize stituations. we can do so much better than this.3 yrs of obama can't wait.
    Teresa Corrao

    I totally agree with you Daniella and the other people who are praising Pelosi for being an italian-american clearly lost the gist of it all. I am far from being proud of her bullying tactic and for placing her political agenda before the welfare of the people. Her abuse of power is appalling.
    Adriana Marie Tilson

    To Daniela & Teresa, I am in total agreement! My dad worked for social service over 30 years,& the fraud was outlandish.But now that he is in assisted living & his income is just a little too high to qualify for assistance he is practically broke.I too,am baffled & pissed off that people who did not contribute get even more care & assistance than my Father!
    Ginamarie Guarna

    @ teresa c. --i totally agree with you. she is all about quotes and photo-ops!! just because she is italian doesnt mean she gets a free pass with me!!
    George De Stefano

    Abuse of power by Pelosi? What are you idiots talking about? It's called leadership. It's called voting. Were you in a coma during the past 8 years of Bush-Cheney? The abuses of power during those years were outrtageous but I bet none of you right-wing cretini were complaining then, were you?
    George De Stefano

    And for your information, Marianna, people in Canada are better off than we are. FACT. They wouldn't trade their system for the disastrous one we have, with 40+ milluion lacking any coverage at all. It's amazing how brainwashed you knee-jerk conservatives are.
    Jim DiGiacomo



    Dina Michetti Somers

    I am Canadian and have yet to ever go to the states for ANY healthcare whatsoever. Neither has my family or anyone I know for that matter. Our Provincal Health Insurance Plan has taken care of all our needs from run of the mill xrays to more compilcated MRIs. My Mom just spent close to 3 months in the hospital and had every test imaginable done ... and surgery. There is no bill to pay. Can you say that right now that would happen to you? If you have a doctor that doesn't care or can't be bothered you may end up going stateside but there is everything available here that we need. If you feel the need for cosmetic surgery you may want to go the states because that is not covered in alot of cases but if it is from a birth defect or an accident, it IS covered and I know that firsthand after being in a gas explosion I needed facial cosmetic bill when I left. The bill is has passed...make the best of it!
    Lorraine Langione Civitanova

    Not a place in the world that can compare to the highly skilled doctors and quality health care that is afforded to all our citizens and non-citizens. Every day people risk their lives to get to our shores. Don't hear them banging down doors to get into Canada!
    Dina Michetti Somers

    Quality health care.......only if you can afford sad.......

    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."

    Carolina Gengo Di Domenico

    Well stated Aileen!
    Anthony Crispino Sr.

    Yes thanks to the first Italian American woman Speaker for the bigger whole she has put us in, get ready for more taxes and more medicaid mess. We need reform but this was to the extreme.
    Eluisa Infelise Lynn

    Historically this is goes to show that to get things done it takes an Italian woman. However, I remain skeptical about this will remain to be seen, as far as I see its just another way to make us taxpayers dish out more money and an incentive for the beneficiaries of the plan to continue to do nothing..I'm all in favor of helping the senoirs, the sick, and few temporarily down on their luck..its the lifelong beneficiaries that make me angry.
    Adriana Marie Tilson

    I'm with Anthony on this issue.
    Crystal Ainardi

    I must be in the minority in this on the comments here. I'm proud America finally caught up with the rest of the world on a health care system that thinks of the majority of its people. And even so, its still a designed health care system fit for America its not like any of the others.
    Daniela Marianna C

    i am with anthony on this one. i don't think as a whole we are against everyone having health care, it is how the governmetn is going about it. we the middle class are sick and tired of paying for eveyone else!
    Joe Casalaina This shows that even among Italian-Americans there are still ignorance and bigotry. Anthony,Adriana,Daniela who do you think currently pays for the uninsured? In many states, it is the law and in all states medical ethics dictates that anyone who goes to the emergency room gets treated. Who pays for that treatment is the taxpayers and insured in higher rates. Have ever see an hospital bill? Enormous charges to recover non-insurance. With this law at least most uninsured will be forced to get insurance and those that have been denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions will be able to buy. Just this if done right will reduce expenses for the hospitals. This bill is not the answer but it is a start.
    Alfred Guerra

    I am with anthony on this also, Think about all the illegal immigrants now, that will have better healthcare coverage than the working person. Who pays for this us the working guy, we need change but this isn't the change we need. We need to vote out all who passed this bill.
    George De Stefano

    "even among Italian-Americans there are still ignorance and bigotry"

    "Even"? You haven't been paying much attention-- there's plenty of both among IAs, sad to say. Guerra, for example, reiterates the discredited GOP bullshit about "illegal immigrants." Better healthcare than the "working person" -- what planet are you from? Where'd you get this great insight from -- Glenn Beck? Other comments blame "the government" when this moderate, centrist plan is the first time the US government has taken any steps to rein in the real culprits -- the insurance companies. The US is the ONLY advanced industrial Western society not to provide or guarantee universal health coverage to its citizens. The ONLY one! Finally some movement is made towards this important goal and we get the usual ignorant, selfish, bigoted whining of the Italian American reactionaries (to accompany the same from reactionaries of all kinds). Vaffanculo!
    Alfred Guerra

    Only time will tell I guess they took away 500 million from medicare to pay for this bill. De stefano don't kid yourself this is not about democracts vs republicans or being united for Italian americans. This is about the american way of living. My parents came here from Italy and worked for a living and got jobs or joined unions that provide for health care. That bill did nothing to forcing insurance companies to lowering they rates. Ask your self one question If this bill was such a great bill why was it such a struggle to pass it even 34 democracts voted No for it.
    Jim DiGiacomo

    I agree with Anthony Crsipano.
    Adriana Marie Tilson

    To Mr.Casalaina, I am neither ignorant nor a bigot...& I know who pays, it's the middle class who always seem to get screwed one way or another! Yes,I,ve seen plenty of medical bills piling up for my Dad, who worked all his life just to give it all to a nursing home & assisted living! I hope you are right about the uninsured, but aren't they uninsured because of lack of money in the first place? What a frickin vicious circle!!!!

    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."

    Mary Jane Cryan

    I'm with Judy on this... eventho' I dont know how the US bill relates to the reality of our health care here in Italy. I remember how surprised my elderly aunt was when she needed X rays for an injury sustained in St. Peter's Square and how well taken care of she was... eventho' she was only a visitor. When a similar thing happened to my daughter visiting in USA she was told to put ice on her broken nose and hope for the best ... no way they would admit her to the emergency room since she had no coverage in the States!
    Margherita Santoro

    I'm with Judy on this too.... the Health care in US is very Canada we get the best health service i'm so furtunate to live in Canada.
    Cathy Vento Shaw





    Jerome Krase, Emeritus Professor, Brooklyn College (CUNY)

    When I asked my wife Suzanne for comment on Nancy Pelosi's "victory," she said "Go girl!." Having been surrounded virtually all my adult life by Italian American women I was certain that only someone like Nancy Pelosi could get the job done in our dysfunctional legislative family dominated by males with government paid expensive health care.

    For example, in my wife's all Italian American family, as well as my own half-Sicilian one, the women were the "generals" whose untiring efforts and constant strategizing led the family through thick and thin. My wife and daughters have been pushing for health care reform for ages (preferring a single payer system but will take almost anything at this point).

    As I wrote some time ago in my i-italy article "Nancy for President and Other Proposals":

    "Nancy Pelosi; Italian American, bright, beautiful, articulately liberal Democrat who has the courage to go head to head with both enemies and friends to do the best for her country...If I weren't already married to a similarly endowed woman, I'd be chasing her all over the place. Since I can't propose marriage, I will simply propose Nancy Pelosi for President."


    Andrew Guzaldo

    Helath Care reform, passed yesterday, will not be anything that the Dems have said. It is unbfortunate this has come to this stature, of larger government, and mandates to the Citizens of this unique nation...

    The founding fathers of this Country, as well as the Italian Scholars that were involved, in the constitution, will be turning over in their graves!!
    Christina Marrocco Gilleran

    I disagree with Andrew. Completely.
    Rosemary Della Ratta

    I agree with Andrew
    Jim DiGiacomo

    Carlo Lipizzi

    1/3 of US population is uninsured/underinsured. People stay in jobs because afraid of losing their benefits. People with pre existing conditions have no coverage whatsoever in many states.

    A change is long due.

    Problem is the out of the world cost of the whole health care system. From this week Crain's NY I read top surgeons with over $18 million in compensation (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center), 25 MDs over $1.6 million in NY only.

    Who you think is paying for that?

    Health care in this country is the most expensive in the world. Public health care today (for what it is) is by itself the most expensive in the world. Combination of public and private, makes our system 2 times more expensive than the second in the rank.

    Point is, there is no Administration "strong" enough to go to the health care stakeholders (MDs, but even more insurances, lawyers, hospitals, big pharma companies, medical devices makers) and tell them: you need to get far less money.

    Bottom line, we are having a great social improvement with this reform, not sure we can really effort the current ultra expensive system, extended to larger population.

    But we have to try, even if we are far from addressing the core problem (the high costs of the system).
    Sandro Lamberti

    @ Jim and Andrew, I'm sorry you two are feeling this way and ignoring the facts. This bill only hurts insurance companies

    Thanks to last night's vote, that child who has had asthma since birth will now be covered after suffering for her first nine years as an American child with a pre-existing condition.

    Thanks to last night's vote, that 23-year-old of who will be hit one day by a drunk driver and spend six months recovering in the hospital will now not go bankrupt because their parents will be able to keep him on their insurance policy.

    Thanks to last night's vote, when cancer returns for the third time -- racking up another $200,000 in costs to keep that person alive -- every insurance company will have to commit a criminal act if they even think of dropping you from their rolls.

    Even though you have opposed this health care bill, we've made sure it is going to cover you, too, in your time of need. I know you're upset right now. I know you probably think that if you did get wiped out by an illness, or thrown out of your home because of a medical bankruptcy, that you would somehow pull yourself up by your bootstraps and survive. I know that's a comforting story to tell yourself, and if John Wayne were still alive I'm sure he could make that into a movie for you.

    But the reality is that these health insurance companies have only one mission: To take as much money from you as they can -- and then work like demons to deny you whatever coverage and help they can should you get sick.

    So, when you find yourself suddenly broadsided by a life-threatening illness someday, perhaps you'll thank Nancy Pelosi and those pinko-socialist, Canadian-loving Democrats and independents for what they did Sunday evening.

    May you always have the best of health.
    Jim DiGiacomo Sandro, you cover a lot of key points, however, the cost of care is going to go up dramitiaccly due to no cap on benefits, and and preexising conditions. Two years ago my wife was sick and I lost my job. Insurance covered my wife and when I received new insurance, we were covered. however you need to look at "how much will the cost increase" with these new mandates. It sounds good on paper, but the truth is that we will pay much more! There is no thing as a free lunch in this country. We need to seek common ground as I am scared that I will have to decide H/I, food on the table, or my girls education! I have built up a cushion, only to see the good ole libeals take it away.

    Also, we need jobs in this country and this law will only hurt job growth.
    Alfred Guerra

    From what i am reading this bill does absolutely nothing to lowering your insurance cost it can only go up with all the regulations to it.
    George Fernandez

    Democrats seems obsessed with passing any legislation for the sake of showing its own political prowess. At this junture the only ones that lose are the voters. We may suffer in the future due to esscalating medical costs because of unintentional or deliberate miscalculations now, or simply because the crafters of this legislation have been mislead by the lobbyists favoring this option. This potential loss is monetary, while the real loss is from the givng of our own freedom to chose. The Declaration guarantees each of us the right of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", but it does not guaranttee that life will be trouble free, nor our longevity free of health problems or financial difficulty. Yet, with this legislation we the people give up some of that guaranteed freedom and curse future generations to pay for our own selfiness.

    While I personally hope that this legislation fails, because I believe it will prove a detriment to society in general by over taxing the middle class (bread & butter of America I maight add), I would hope that these very brave legislators would continue the debate and fashion real substantive legislation which will allow the uninsured among us the opportunity to protect themselvs from catostrophic loss due to illness or injury without bartering our children's and grandchildren's future for our own immediate gain....

    Annie Rachele Lanzillotto, Artist, New York City

    Pelosi has a name like a pugilist, and she hammered home the law. You see the size of that hammer?! Now we will have more options for survival when faced with illness rather than ducking under the poverty line with our pre-pre-pre-existings.

    Maybe just maybe us dual citizens can survive in this country. We shall see.

    As a double cancer survivor, my whole economic life focuses around accessing top health care. As an Italian American woman I have been tough enough to survive despite the constant circumlocution of health insurance. I'm not afraid to be poor. That courage is part of my make-up. Afraid to be uninsured? Certo!

    Madeline DeMuccio

    God Bless you!! I stand with you!!!
    Walter Alberghini

    BRAVA !!!!!!!
    Lorraine Langione Civitanova

    Worse thing that could have happened to us. WAKE-UP AMERICA, before it's too late!!!
    Nicholas Narducci

    Agreed, Lorraine. I hate to say it, but I really believe the people who are in favor of this don't know how to do math. This legislation will greatly increase both the Federal deficit and debt. An army of IRS agents will have to be hired to enforce it, further eroding our freedoms. Don't kid yourselves folks: down the road our taxes will go up. Oh yes, it will take a lot longer to see your doctor and the quality of our healthcare will deteriorate.

    Interestingly, whilie Dems are pushing this, in Europe they are slowly and quietly paring down their national healthcare systems. Why? THEY CAN'T AFFORD IT ANY LONGER!
    Jim DiGiacomo

    The Dems state that it will lower the defecit. When you take out the smoke and mirrors the defecit goes up $500B++++
    Francesca Cerchia Pensa

    Better to have the deficit go up while taking care of our citizens rather than have it go up to fund ridiculous wars.
    George Fernandez

    Better to have the deficit go up funding "rediculous wars" (secondo te) while they keep our enemies far away,,,than not to fund them and have the f... arabs in our back yard,,,

    if so, would BO health plan be of any help to you? does not make no sense to me,,, does it to you Francesca? pensa un po'
    Silvana Mastrolia

    Yes, better to have strong, empowered citizens than fabricated wars.
    George Fernandez

    Yes Silvana, like the woolfs are vegetarians LOL
    Cathy Vento Shaw

    Cecilia Difonso Cataldo

    it will never be free ! nothing is free here in the USA pretty soon will be paying for the air we take in by cubic feet! and the capacity of our lungs!
    Francesca Cerchia Pensa

    @George: We're talking about the USA where many of our residents are from other countries. It isn't helpful to stero-type and to insult all Arabs as you did. The question should be...Why does the USA have so many enemies? The wars (secondo me) haven't accomplished much other than to create more enemies and to turn the surplus we had into the largest deficit in the history of the USA. To answer your question as to whether the health plan would help me I would tell you that I have very good health care coverage. It would, however, probably help many of my fellow citizens.

    Edvige Giunta, Professor of English, New Jersey City University

    Health care reform: like so many, I did not believe this was going to happen. I am elated to see politicians at work on behalf of the people.

    This is the kind of momentous event I hoped to witness when I decided to become a US citizen. To be able to listen to our politicians and actually believe them: what a thrill! Obama is keeping his promises.

    Joseph Imparato

    Politicans at work on behalf of the people????????????? This is NOBAMA take over of our health care system. This is not about health care it is about goverment control of our lives.
    Cathie Leask Marando

    think of your own constitution ... which you all hold near and dear...all people created equal... etc... I agree with Edvige... power to the people they have spoke by way of your political system through the congressmen... and the people they represent... ALL people should have access to health care... not just rich people... who can afford it... thank GOD I'm Canadian... shame on you for having thirty plus million without health care... the richest land in the world... WOW... thank goodness for Obama... "for the people by the people..funny how you're not liking your constitution now EH?
    Anthony Crispino Sr.

    They couldn't care less as to what people want, the polls showed that most people did not want reform to this ex-stream, but they shoved it down everyone's throat. When Obamam was running for office he talked about transparency in government and how all the health care talks and negotiations would be available on you-tube as well as other sources for the people to follow, that never happened. There was so many back room deals made to get votes to go their way, what happened to transparency?

    I, like so many other people know that something had to be done for health care but this is to the extream.

    We will all be paying more taxes and premiums.
    Marco Sperti

    Pensate alla mia offerta venitevene in Australia! The place to be for the italians now!