Jewish World Review Oct. 16, 2002 / 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
And now, PC parades
IN NEW YORK, Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn't
march in the Columbus Day parade because its
sponsors made him an offer he could easily refuse:
They actually went to court to compel Bloomberg to
march -- but without two actors from HBO's "The
Sopranos," whom Bloomberg had invited. The parade
organizers didn't want to include figures that promote
Italian-mob stereotypes. The court -- no surprise --
refused to make Bloomberg march. So, Bloomberg
didn't join the parade. Instead, he lunched with "The
Sopranos" actors Lorraine Bracco and Dominic
In San Francisco, former New York Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani went to the Fior d'Italia restaurant in North
Beach to campaign for GOP gubernatorial candidate
Bill Simon. Before Giuliani arrived, proprietor Bob
Larive noted that while San Francisco celebrates
"Italian Heritage Day," at the Fior d'Italia it's still
Columbus Day. Red, white and green balloons
festooned the politicians' podium.
Giuliani said he would have done what Bloomberg
" 'The Sopranos' ' flap is unnecessary," said New
York's no-nonsense former mayor, as he signed
copies of his new book, "Leadership."
Of course Giuliani said he is "intensely proud" to be
an Italian American. He also noted that there happen
to be some Italian Americans who are members of
the mob. "So I don't know why Italian American
groups want to get so insulted about this," said
Giuliani. "So what?"
Or, in a word: Fuggedaboutit.
Not likely. Being offended is as American as apple
pie these days.
Some Native American groups are offended by the
celebration of Columbus Day.
They don't want to celebrate the legacy of European
Some Italian Americans, in turn, are offended by
attempts to retool or eliminate Columbus Day. In
fact, there was even a "Sopranos" episode on the
Now the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which
sponsors the New York Columbus Day parade,
doesn't want certain Italian American actors who take
prominent mob roles -- which sounds like every great
Italian-American actor -- in its parade.
It makes you wonder what history books will say
about America 2002. For all the faults of American
pioneers, they were resilient and courageous, if
sometimes hard. Modern Americans are more
sensitive -- but often to the point of being humorless
and too easily offended.
I asked Giuliani if, in light of political correctness, he
thought Americans would celebrate Columbus Day in
Yes, he said. "I believe Christopher Columbus is a
very important historical figure. Obviously, a man of
his time. And, like America, nobody's perfect. But
the reality is that he had great achievements. He was
a visionary. "
Well said. But that same Columbus offends some
Americans. In fact, history offends them. The past
"I think everybody has too much time on their
hands," shrugged Fior d'Italia's Larive.
Too true. There was a day when Americans protested
blatant discrimination. Now activists go after any
vestige of a stereotype, as if it is tantamount to
discrimination. There's no sense of proportion. And
no sense of laissez-faire.
If you don't like "The Sopranos' " actors on parade,
Bloomberg had said earlier in the controversy, don't
If you don't like "The Sopranos" because you think it
defames Italian Americans, don't watch.
But tuning out isn't good enough anymore. Sensitive
Americans rain on every parade.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate