While I disagree with Keith Humphreys about the merits of the Supreme Court case that vindicated the Westboro “Baptist” Church”‘s right to make asses of themselves outside people’s funerals (I think the other eight justices were right in holding that the WBC’s protests were legitimate political speech that shouldn’t be prohibited), I found this story interesting:
A most respectable friend told me recently of his discovering, in mid-life, that his kind, loving, hard-working Italian-American father was on friendly terms with the Mafia. Although there had been hints throughout his childhood of such an association, it did not become clear until his father’s funeral. At the very end of the service, a single black limo drove up and a single capo came out of the back seat, walked up to him and said quietly “I want you to know how much we respected your father, and that we share your grief”. The capo then turned around and just as quietly left. As my friend put it “Sure, they kill people and they engage in extortion, graft and loansharking, but even La Cosa Nostra knows not to make a spectacle at someone’s funeral.” Indeed.
Anyway, this got me to thinking about the Mafia and Italian immigrants. People in the US talk all the time about how we’re a nation of immigrants when they’re exhorting people like King to be more tolerant, and that’s true, but what I think’s underrated is just how much everyone’s ancestors were also the wrong kind of immigrants: Papists slavishly obedient to the Vatican and bent on destroying every freedom good Protestant Americans hold dear; mafiosi bringing corruption, prostitution, drugs, theft, and murder to our shores; ignorant masses corrupting the democratic process with their thuggish unions and their Tamany Hall and so on and so forth, und so weiter, on and on it goes.
Ta-Nehisi Coates recently brought up the parallel between Muslim and Catholic immigrants on this excellent blog, which got me thinking along these lines.