“Land of the free and home of the brave” is the final verse of the Star Spangled Banner. Most Americans may not be well acquainted with the entirety of Francis Scott Key’s most famous poem that has been America’s national anthem since 1931, but those last nine words are creed.
Prior to our nation’s founding, every ethnic group that arrived on these shores has had their share of injustices, for no venue in this fallen world is utopia or ever will be.
Naturally, some groups have had more grievances than others. The ripple effect of African slavery that has transcended time and place with arguments ranging both pro versus con on affirmative action to the recent cry for reparations is legion.
“Irish need not apply” was a common refrain throughout the 19th century.
Another 19th century custom was lynching, especially south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The largest ever was foisted not upon African-Americans, but newly arrived Italian-Americans in New Orleans. Last month, Mayor LaToya Cantrell apologized for what a riotous mob of thousands did to 11 Italian-Americans.
The city’s police chief had been shot to death, and hundreds of Italian-Americans had been arrested with 19 indicted, but the trials all ended in acquittal or mistrial. For the vigilantes, however, due process didn’t matter as they stormed the city jail and brutally murder 11 men on March 14, 1891.
A New York Times editorial two days later: “These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cut-throat practices, and the oath-bound societies of their native country, are to us a pest without mitigations.”
The Washington Post complimented the murders as “cool-headed men, lawyers, doctors, merchants, and political leaders, all persons of influence and social standing.”
Could you imagine the two house organs for liberaldom saying the same today for those Mexicans who actually have murdered along our Southern border?
A week later, future president Theodore Roosevelt, who was a member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, wrote to his sister: “Monday we dined at the Camerons; various dago diplomats were present, all much wrought up by the lynching of the Italians in New Orleans. Personally I think it rather a good thing, and said so.”
Richard Gambino in his book, “Vendetta,” writes between 1870 and 1940 “Italians were second only to blacks in numbers of lynch victims.”
Apologies and their pretensions are how we have arrived at this present-day state of victimhood that, thanks to leftists, has been turned into a virtue. The business of apologizing is well overdone and meaningless. Claiming to atone for the transgressions of others is nothing more than self-aggrandizement in the first-degree.
It is imperative that we recall and comprehend the indignities that immigrants faced at their particular time, especially in light of the identity politics and privilege-labeling that is now so pervasive.
Provided, you’re enraged about something that occurred more than a century ago you might consider psychotherapy.
There are many lessons to be learned from how Italian families and their communities assimilated and thrived, while still maintaining a sense of pride in their heritage. Those immigrant Italians never asked for handouts, or expected entitlements. Rather, they were seekers of opportunity and worked tirelessly to support and raise their families.
This is exactly what has distinguished this nation from every other where American meritocracy trumps all.
Despite its flaws, America remains the land of opportunity for those who are willing to move beyond the scourge of political correctness and work hard and assimilate.
Each generation is charged with the task of creating a better foundation for the next generation to build upon. We have all come a long way since 1891. No one owes me an apology for a wrong done to my great-grandparents or grandparents. History is a great teacher; our character is a reflection of what it taught us. Perhaps one reason Italians are fully integrated, productive and successful in American society is that virtually none of us would advocate for an apology.
Italian-Americans are Americans no hyphen, apology or reparations needed.
In this land of the free and the brave, we have moved on and plan on keeping it that way.
If only everyone else would.