Try as I might not to think about the news so I could put my mind to rest for a few days of my vacation of sort that I have allowed myself. I cannot shake the headlines of certain tabloids and even the New York Times about the recent arrest of 46 people for “mafia” activity, almost all of whom have Italian-American surnames. Their crimes? Charges include slicing car tires of those who don’t pay gambling losses, to giving a beating to a poor panhandler in the parking lot of a “boss’s” restaurant. Sure, there’s also extortion, cigarette and drug trafficking. All activities that rightfully deserve long jail time. But why call it “mafia”? In all actuality, headline writers of the New York Post at least use the word mobster instead of mafia; the NYT can’t resist using mafia, therefore even Italian newspapers used it, spreading the news coming from New York. But where do they see mafia in these crimes? Like this, not only do they offend the actual mafia, but they offend the memory of those who sacrificed their life fighting against it.
The Cosa Nostra grows stronger in New York, according to articles in the Big Apple’s papers. But then you read summaries taken from documents released by the District Attorney, and you never see corruption charges against judges and politicians, the big fish of the establishment. Those whom (just busted) are not mafiosi because they are missing the reason for their being. Mafioso is, in fact, the ability to work and protect themselves from government institutions. Those arrested in New York last week are at best gangsters, even second rate, anything but real mafiosi.
Hollywood told us the story of gangsters and mobsters in America, calling it the story of the mafia. The mafia, the genuine and very dangerous one, did exist in America, certainly it is not the mafia we read about in the articles that described the dirty deeds of these that they gave the title of “mafiosi” despite them not having the proper “attributes” …
So who are the true mafiosi then? You’ve all seen “The Godfather,” correct? Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola knew how to demonstrate, through the art of literature and cinema, that there was only one true “mafioso”: Don Vito Corleone. Remember the scene of the great sit-down, all the family bosses gathered at the table to make peace? The true mafia head and not a simple mobster boss is the only one, the godfather played by Marlon Brando. The gangsters gather trying to understand why the war had started. They speak of prostitution, drugs and other activities, similar to those, we would hope send to prison for many years the mobsters arrested in New York last week. But here, at this meeting, with everyone seated at the table with the godfather, at a certain point one gangster speaks the truth: “Don Corleone had judges and politicians in his pocket that he refused to share…” Got it? Judges and politicians in Don Vito’s pockets the he didn’t want to share, he was the only one who was able to get favours from them… Was it really so complicated to understand why Don Vito is the only one you can actually say is a Mafioso boss and everyone else instead is simply a mobster?
Without the connection to politics and the so-called establishment (that even judges are a part of), without that web created by protection, agreements and calling in favours, it’s not mafia. At best, it’s like a kind of Tony Soprano, who in an episode of the famous HBO series, is incapable of even getting a judge, his childhood friend, to help him out and we see him slam down the phone, full of rage.
In the United States, there was the real mafia, and how! But today those petty criminals that they arrest with grandiose headlines to sell more newspapers is hardly ever the real mafia. The mafia was Lucky Luciano who even ended up in prison in the Thirties but because he was the real Mafioso who successfully “called in favors,” managed to get out. The federal government needed his help with New York’s port war against Nazi spies and needed assistance with the Allies landing in Sicily. Also those certain anti-Communist matters at the start of the Cold War. And then some might remember Carlos Marcello (alias Calogero Minacori), mafia boss of New Orleans? Definitely he was mafioso: look only at the plots and cover-ups, the assassination of JFK in Dallas, and more…
It’s not enough to write an article and include a list of surnames that end in an vowel and give it a mafia headline, for a group of criminals, albeit organized, then affirm that Cosa Nostra still holds power in New York. Some New York journalists should rewatch The Godfather 1 and 2 and possibly try harder with their headlines.