Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roberto Saviano writes a bad article

What's gotten into this guaglione? He is celebrated and admired as one of Italy's foremost mafia-busters, the author of the best-selling Gomorrah, an expose' of the despicable Neapolitan mob known as the Camorra.

Now, it has become increasingly clear to me that people are not rational. Still, you think that there are islands of rationality here and there.

But more and more, in my humble veggie way, I've started to wonder.

So a few days ago I read Roberto Saviano's short op-ed in the New York Times about the revolt of some African immigrants in a small southern Italian town by the name of Rosarno. The hideously exploited immigrants got pissed off and rioted.

Now, enter our boy Bobby. He pens an article calling the put-upon Africans "heroes." And he makes an implicit analogy between the current African immigrants to Italy and the former Italian immigrants to the United States:

"Italy is a country that’s forgotten how its emigrants were treated in the United States, how the discrimination they suffered was precisely what allowed the Mafia to take root there. It was extremely difficult for many Italian immigrants, who did not feel protected or represented by anyone else, to avoid the clutches of the mob."

Yo, Bobby. This is extremely wrong-headed. The various mafias preceded immigration. The United States did not produce the Mafia, but (some) Italians brought it here. Most people who are poor and exploited do not give in to organized crime. They do not even give in to disorganized crime.

Thus, what Saviano has said (and he isn't the first) is a disservice to the majority of poor and oppressed people throughout the world who do not resort to wrongdoing.