Editorial: Ridiculous indignation

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There are people in this city who go to great lengths to imagine insult where none was intended. Such is the case with the organizers who caused Mayor Bloomberg not to march in this year’s Columbus Day Parade.

The mayor had announced that he was planning to march with two members of the cast of the popular HBO series “The Sopranos.” The mayor explained that the two Italian-American TV stars, Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior, and Lorraine Bracco, who plays Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist, had helped the city in a number of ways. They would march as his guests.

Larry Auriana, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, went to federal court to block the two actors from marching. He claimed “the show stereotypes the Italian-American family in the worst way.”

The mayor then decided that if his friends were not welcome, he would not march.

Shame on Auriana and shame on those who joined him in his foolish crusade, including City Councilman Tony Avella (D- College Point) and William Fugazy of the Coalition of Italo-American Associations. Avella, who is the chairman of the Council’s Italian-American caucus, wrote a letter to the mayor saying “I’m upset that something we consider discriminatory will be a highlight of this year’s parade.”

Other Italian-Americans disagree, including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is one of the show’s biggest fans. In fact, there are millions of people who watch this show every week, including, we assume, millions of Italian Americans. And for good reason. This is one of the best-written and best-acted shows on television.

It is silly to say that the show “stereotypes” Italian Americans. No intelligent adult who watches “The Sopranos” will conclude that all Italian Americans are like Tony Soprano and his murderous crew.

What makes this show work is the fact that it is not one-dimensional. At times the show opens a window into the Italian-American culture that should make any Italian American proud. Traditional Italian-American values, including a strong sense of family and a love for church, stand in direct contrast to Tony’s criminal activities and create much of the show’s dramatic tension.

But even if the show were junk, it is still just a TV show. No one has to watch it. In their petty protest, Auriana et al have divided the city and trivialized the plight of those who truly do suffer from discrimination.

Editorial: Another year, another study


Ten years after a study of Willets Point, the city announced that is prepared to do — you guessed it — another study. The city has issued a Request for Proposals, or RFP, for redeveloping the historically underdeveloped industrial land. The developer who submits the winning RFP will get $200,000 to do another study.

There is no question that something should be done with the area that borders Shea Stadium. The new study would connect Willets Point with future development across the river in downtown Flushing.

That’s all well and good. We have been advocating a redevelopment of this area for at least 10 years. But we are frustrated that after all this time the city is ready to do nothing more than decide where square one should be.

Whatever happened to the plans under the Giuliani administration to force the auto salvage years and car repair shops out of this prime commercial space creating room for hotels and restaurant? Is it really necessary to spend $200,000 to reinvent this wheel?

Updated 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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