EDITORIAL

Parades, immigrants and the American Dream

Posted

It may be poor timing to pen this editorial in advance of what could be this winter’s worst snow storm yet – less than a week from the first official day of spring, no less. However not all warm and fuzzy feelings are derived from weather, and the first day of spring in New England has always been more metaphorical than literal anyways.

Some of the purest, warmest and fuzziest feelings we can create collectively as a society come from those rare moments where people of all different creeds embrace a culture different from their own. Of course, in the context of the late winter in Rhode Island, this means St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day festivities.

Irish and Italian Americans are far from minority populations in Rhode Island. There are more Irish Americans in Rhode Island than 48 other states (only New Hampshire and Massachusetts have more). Rhode Island, as of 2010, has more Italian Americans than any other state, and Johnston alone has nearly half its population that identifies as Italian (the highest percentage of any town in America).

However this wasn’t always the case. Huge waves of immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries brought millions of Italians and Irish individuals and families desperate for something, anything, better than what they faced at home – whether it was abject poverty, famine or a nasty combination of the two.

Neither ethnicity found success in the land of opportunity right away.

Although it isn’t as well known as the “No Irish Need Apply” stories popularized by Irish newspapers that documented their own discrimination, Italians faced their own fair share of bigotry and stereotyping – especially in the midst of WWII when over 600,000 Italians who had yet to complete their immigration status were forced to carry “illegal alien” cards and hundreds were interned in military detainment camps. Thousands more were forced to move inland from the coast, losing their jobs and property in the process.

It wasn’t until 2010 that the state of California officially apologized for the treatment of Italian Americans during wartime – and in the years between over 1.5 million Italian Americans served in the armed forces during World War II (about 10 percent of the total forces), with 14 of those earning the Medal of Honor.

The early Irish struggle with xenophobia and American bigotry is much better documented. Portrayed as drunkards and miscreants by political cartoons and largely only considered for menial labor jobs in construction, mills and other areas of servitude, the Irish – similar to the Italians – mainly congregated in large cities so that they could carve out enclaves of their “own kind,” as much for protection as for acceptance.

Modern Americans – armed with the knowledge that, as of today, 22 American presidents can claim Irish heritage, that countless Italian and Irish Americans have contributed amazing feats in arts, culture and sports from all walks of life – should be humbled and ashamed by our collective intolerance towards those coming to this country in search of exactly what its Constitution promises: the chance to be treated equally and given a chance to succeed.

Modern day xenophobia and bigotry has focused in on new targets. Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent, homosexuals and transgenders and Mexicans are now firmly on the “not welcome” list for millions of intolerant Americans – many of whom will probably rarely, if ever, interact with anybody from those categories. Some of whom, ironically enough, are undoubtedly Irish or Italian themselves.

It is a shameful testament to history’s unstoppable ability to repeat itself, despite how obviously foolhardy the notion of a “pure” America – a country that predicates itself on a blending of cultures – is.

People don’t line up for parades and buy zeppoles by the dozen because we’re inherently intolerant of other cultures – they do it for the exact opposite reason. Because America is greatest when we can celebrate the good in every culture, and embrace the people themselves that bring these cultural charms to us.

Every Irish beer consumed by someone who isn’t Irish this weekend, every zeppole eaten by a non-Italian, is a reaffirmation of the American Dream – and we should celebrate our differences with one another, not allow them to cause harmful division based on ignorance or irrational fears.

Comments

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richardcorrente

Here's an idea (and if you have a better one, please comment), why doesn't Warwick have the first ever "Irish-Italian Parade and Festival". Imagine having so many visitors from other communities coming to Warwick, viewing our coastline and beaches, and maybe deciding to move here. Promoting Warwick to other R.I. towns and cities will increase our number of taxpayers which will increase our tax revenue WITHOUT increasing taxes. Over the last ten years Warwick lost 5,800 taxpayers (according to the U.S. Census) This would be one step in the direction of getting them back.

Happy Spring everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, March 13
Justanidiot

we dont wants a bunch of ferniners in our fair city. we is not some sanuary for the great unwashable. go march in your own neighborhood

Wednesday, March 14
CrickeeRaven

The fake "mayor" clearly does not remember that Warwick DOES have a community parade every June -- for Gaspee Days.

Never one to let facts get in the way of bashing the city, the fake "mayor" again fails to restrain himself from posting another uninformed and delusional statement; in this case he suggests copying other communities' ideas instead of continuing to support and present the unique experience of Gaspee Days.

This kind of unimaginative thinking is one of the many reasons that tens of thousands of honest, informed voters who have pride in their community will overwhelmingly reject his candidacy again in November.

Wednesday, March 14
richardcorrente

Dear CrickeeRaven,

You're wrong...again.

I do remember Gaspee Days parade and festival. In fact, I attend every year. But it's not in March.

I also remember, fondly, when Warwick used to have a St. Patricks Day/St. Josephs Day celebration and I think that helped promote Warwick to surrounding communities and attracted many new homebuyers and I'll bet more than one new business. But that was before your buddy Scott Avedisian was Mayor. That needs to change. As Mayor, I will make sure that it DOES change.

Warwick desperately needs new taxpayers. Do you have an idea about how to attract them? If you do, let's hear it! If not, please don't criticize mine. Fair enough?

Happy St. Patricks Day CrickeeRaven

Happy St. Patricks Day everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Saturday, March 17
CrickeeRaven

"Do you have an idea about how to attract them?"

Until the fake "mayor" admits to his many falsehoods and ethically questionable and potentially illegal campaign activities, he has no right to set any conditions on other commenters or demand that they provide answers when his are so easily disproven and shown to be nothing but the delusional rants of a losing political nobody.

He will certainly continue to humiliate himself in his future comments until tens of thousands of honest, taxpaying voters overwhelmingly reject his candidacy again this November.

Saturday, March 17
Justanidiot

if u eber goes to daves marcet at hoxies four corners, check out da campaign sign in da seconded story winder abouve his offices. "Cut taxes with Corrente" sum of my finest works since I gradumacted from slogun righting skul

Monday, March 19
Justanidiot

Warwick needs to have an Azerbaijan Independence Day parade in mid October. No other city is doing that and just thing of all the potential home owners that will flock to Warwick with their down payment in hand and head over to Bankers Mortgage Corp. to get a loan.

Monday, March 19
CrickeeRaven

Wait a second, Justanidiot -- Do you mean to say that the mayer has selfish personal motives in continuing to run his pathetic campaigns? That he just might be using the Beacon, not only for free political advertising but also to give his business free promotional space?

I don't know, that sounds too smart for the mayer to have figured out.

Monday, March 19
richardcorrente

No CrickeeRaven,

I don't "use" the Beacon to receive "free political advertising". I pay for all ads. I do respond to attacks like yours however, using my real name and contact information (my cell is 401-338-9900). You, on the other hand, write fake news from fake sources by fake people with fake names. If you ever want to come clean, identify who you really are and start "honest dialog", please feel free.

Happy Easter everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, March 27
CrickeeRaven

More than a week after the last comment, the fake "mayor" returns to this page to make more accusations and repeat his whining complaints about commenters using screen names.

As is typical of him, he does not specify what he means by "fake news from fake sources by fake people with fake names" -- and yet he still thinks this is a sufficient answer to the numerous times that links to public information and articles published by real news outlets [including this one] have been provided by many commenters.

It is a further sign of his defect as a political candidate that he denies using this site for free political advertising while ending every comment with the fake title he has given himself and admitted that he is using to campaign for office -- and that he then calls for "honest dialog" when so many of his prior claims have been proven false.

The clearest sign of just how unfit the fake "mayor" is for office, however, is that he maintains the delusional belief that if he just continues to repeat himself, voters will somehow accept his statements and not be smart enough to research them and learn that they are, in fact, lies.

Honest, taxpaying voters will again disprove that belief in 216 days.

Tuesday, April 3