90th Anniversary of Sacco & Vanzetti’s Execution Reminds us that Hate, Xenophobia Kill Human Beings

 


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On the eve of the 90th Anniversary of the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti, Donald Trump delivered the kind of racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, hateful speech that resulted in two Italian immigrants being sent to the electric chair — not because the evidence against them was clear, but because their ethnicity was.

 

Today marks the 90th Anniversary of this specific consequence of killing people because they are different, and inciting a mob to murder. Donald Trump comes by his xenophobia and his hatred of immigrants naturally. His father, Fred Trump was arrested in Queens, NY., 90 years ago this past May, at a KKK Rally which was anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and anti-black. Three months after Fred Trump was arrested at the KKK Rally, Sacco & Vanzetti were electrocuted.

 

History teaches us that the unjust execution of Sacco & Vanzetti is by no means the first, nor the most catastrophic example of the consequences of the hatred of “the other”, as the slaughter of 6 million Jews by the Nazis reminds us. It is not even the most egregious example of the hateful, fatal consequences of xenophobia concerning Italians.

 

That event happened 36 years earlier, in 1891, in New Orleans, LA, when 11 innocent Italian Immigrants — acquitted by a jury in a dramatic murder case — were ripped from a jail by a maniacal mob of 20,000 White Nationalists (the actual name of the group was the White Nationalists League), shot and lynched in the single largest mass lynching in American History. The White Nationalist League was incited to riot by the elected Mayor of New Orleans, Mayor Shakespeare — much like Donald Trump was inciting 20,000 White Supremacists in Arizona last night to take violent action against the press, and others.

 

The White Nationalist League, which took credit for the lynchings of the 11 innocent Italian immigrants, was also responsible for erecting the pro-segregationist, pro-Confederacy statues throughout New Orleans, which the current Mayor has wisely decided to take down. Trump’s defense of those symbols of racial oppression, and his incitement of modern-day White Nationalists to riot again last night in Phoenix, are not part of some low-rated reality show, but have real, life-threatening consequences.

 

Even though Google didn’t see fit to remember Sacco & Vanzetti on the 90th Anniversary of their death, we can. And while we’re at it, we can honor the memories of the 11 innocent Italian immigrants murdered by the White Nationalists of their time, in New Orleans, in 1891.

 

The names of those innocents, who came to America to seek a better life for their families, are: Pietro Monastero, Joseph Macheca, Antonio Marchesi, Antonio Scaffidi, Emmanuele Polizzi, Antonio Bagnetto, James Caruso, Rocco Geraci, Frank Romero, Loretto Comitz and Charles Traina. They are not as well known as Sacco & Vanzetti, but they are the victims of one of the biggest hate crimes committed by White Nationalists in American history, 20,000 of whom were incited to riot & murder by a high-ranking elected official.   Twenty thousand White Nationalists brought to a murdering frenzy by a demagogue preaching hate & violence against others.

 

Remember that on this 90th Anniversary of the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti, and as we reflect upon the largest mass lynching in American history, carried out by an inflamed mob of 20,000 people against innocent Italian immigrants whose only crime, was being different.

The President & The Puttana

 

Vito Genovese’s puttana came on to me during my senior year of high school, while the mob boss was still alive.

 

It was Springtime, 1967, and my mother and I arrived at my Aunt Josephine’s small Woodside, Queens, apartment when it happened. Genovese’s girlfriend, a fiftyish French woman named Charlotte, batted her long lashes at me, spoke a few words in her sexy French accent and I was smitten. She was visiting my mother’s oldest sister, having accompanied our cousin, Jean Eboli, married to the brother of Tommy Eboli, who would—in just two years—succeed Don Vito as head of the Genovese Crime Family. I studied French for four years in high school, and Vito’s sultry puttana was verbally seducing me right before my mother’s incredulous eyes.

 

I was polite and respectful, of course. My Aunt Josephine, a brilliant and scheming peasant woman, born in Italy in 1899, who admired money and was mobster neutral, had taught us how to act around these folks. Having cooked for members of both the Genovese and Gambino crime organizations, who married into our own family, Aunt Josephine’s kitchen was a little like Gertrude Stein’s salon for street toughs who loved superb tomato sauce, the way Stein’s patron’s loved good art. The lesson from Aunt Josephine was clear: the host always showed respect, even if your guest was a puttana.

 

It’s too bad Donald Trump didn’t have an Aunt Josephine to teach him life’s lessons. If he did, he might have known how to act toward the reputed puttana of convicted racketeer, mobster and NY Teamster Local Boss John Cody. Donald’s dealings with Vernia Hixon, who bought several of the best apartments in Trump Tower in 1982, revealed Trump’s inherent “pussyness” in the face of real power.

 

“Trump was a guy who would talk tough, but as soon as you confronted him, he would cry like a little girl,” Cody’s son, Michael, told The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey and Michael Daly in an October 13, 2016, article entitled “The Swiss Connection: The Party Girl Who Brought Trump to His Knees.   “He was all talk, no action.”

 

Cody was not just any casual observer. His father controlled the construction trades industry throughout the New York Metropolitan Area for a number of key years in the 1970’s and ‘80s, as head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 282.   No trucks carrying any building materials, especially cement, could move to a construction site without Cody’s approval. The flow of cement was controlled by the S & A Concrete Company, a mob-front business co-owned by the Gambino & Genovese Crime families. If building developers didn’t pay what Cody or S & A Concrete demanded, their jobs—like Trump Tower—could be halted.

 

“My father walked all over Trump.” Michael Cody told The Daily Beast. “ Anytime Trump didn’t do what he was told, my father would shut down his job for the day. No deliveries. 400 guys sittin’ around.” To John Cody and his colleagues, Donald Trump was just another puffed-up, pasty patsy.

 

One of the things Cody told Trump was to make sure he took very good care of his special friend Verina Hixon, who purchased three prime units in Trump Tower, just beneath Trump’s Penthouse. Hixon’s units, included the only swimming pool in the entire Trump Tower complex. The strikingly-beautiful, Austrian-born divorcee, according to Wayne Barrett, in Trump: The Art of the Deal, “had no visible income…and by the end of 1982 had signed contracts to purchase the units for a total cost of around $10 million.”

 

Cody made sure Trump took good care of Hixon, even funneling some $500,000 to her for renovations on her apartments while he was in jail for racketeering and income tax evasion. When Trump balked at fulfilling some of his promises to Hixon, according to Barrett “Cody & Hixon cornered him in a nearby bar and got his agreement. “Anything for you, John, “ was Hixon’s recollection of Trump’s cowering comment.

 

Trump was so terrified of crossing Cody that at one point, when Cody called Trump from prison to complain about construction problems on Hixon’s apartments, Barrett reported that “Trump greeted him nervously on the phone. ‘Where are you? Trump asked. Downstairs?”

 

“Trump ended conversations with my father by saying, “Whatever you say, John,” Michael Cody told The Daily Beast.

 

However, as soon is Cody was stripped of his union leadership and his jail term dragged on, Trump got brave. He sued Hixson for $250,000 on the apartments’ alterations, but Cody’s tough, no-bullshit consort was not so easily bullied. According to Barrett, she counter-sued The Donald for $20 million, and her attorneys threatened to bring in the Attorney-General to look into the possibility of Trump paying himself ‘kickbacks.’

 

Trump quickly caved and Cody’s reputed puttana with the seductive accent stayed in her tower on Fifth Avenue through the end of the decade, until her money finally ran out. Perhaps Aunt Josephine could have ended things more amicably for everyone over a good meal in her kitchen, but considering the two parties involved, it’s unlikely.

 

Hixson, now in her early 70’s and living in Europe, refers to Trump as “that awful man,” and Trump who thinks a fine meal is a Trump Tower taco, is busy bending over for mobsters from Russia. Whatever they want, Vlad. Anything.

 

 

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Trump’s New Show: “Shit Sandwich!”

Last May, I published a piece on social media that called upon the mainstream media to eat Donald Trump alive at his own game. Since television’s insatiable hunger for cheap, low-cost, low-talent Reality TV made a crass, shrivel-souled little man with tiny hands into a celebrity out of Trump (thank you, Jeff Zucker & Mark Burnett) and helped build his puffed-up platform for a Presidential campaign, my reasoning was that TV also had the power to devour him.

NBC dumped the Donald when his ratings nosedived — despite what the imaginary friends in Trump’s mind tell him. Now, however, having used television and social media’s obcession with suspense, suspension of belief and bug-swallowing to slip in through a basement window of the White House, it’s not so easy to get rid of the bloated, no-talent fraud.  It’s even tougher when he has Secret Service protection, and is in possession of a nuclear, non-edible “biscuit,” even if he isn’t in possession of his senses.

For the first month of his occupation of the office, the perpetual “Apprentice” has, predictably, acted like one, and barricaded himself behind bunkers in the White House, Mar-A-Lago, and his Castle on the Hill on Fifth Avenue. Instead of quietly conducting his Kremlin-inspired Kleptocracy and, at least ostensibly, respecting American institutions like the Judiciary, the First Amendment, the US Constitution, and American Intelligence Services, Trump cannot stop himself from acting like the insecure schnorrer he is. His insatiable appetite for any kind of media — social, virtual, print and reality, television news, negative, positive  or ridicule— drove the failed “ Apprentice” to produce his newest daily game show from the White House, with a cast of characters far more repulsive than Omarosa, although she was kept around for an occasional cameo.

The new ratings (or is it rantings and ravings?) hit has been perfectly named “Shit Sandwich,” by advisors to Vice-Admiral Robert Harward, Deputy Commander of US Central Command, who told him this week what he’d be stepping into if he agreed to replace notorius Russian TV mouthpiece Michael Flynn as National Security Director.

Neither Burnett nor Zucker — who produced and greenlighted many shitty reality shows while at NBC — could have foreseen such a logjam of lunatics and losers under one roof as Vice-Admiral’s Harward’s friends found in “Shit Sandwich.” Instinctively, Trump knew that none of us — especially the media he loves to hate — could turn away from something so astoundingly vile.

The “highly over-rated” cast of “Shit Sandwich” includes: Steven “Seig Heil,” Bannon, a walking “Evola” Virus, taking his cues from a dead, deranged Italian Fascist — Julius Evola— who believed Mussolini and Hitler weren’t tough enough on Jews, and wrote about women as “things”; Eva Conway Braun (aka KKKKelly Anne Conjob), who thought she could pitch Ivanka’s products on the air, ethics laws be damned, and then discovered she couldn’t even pitch herself to the news shows that used to fawn over her boss, like “Morning Joe”; and Mike Pence, who still doesn’t know he was lied to by Trump, by Mike Flynn, and by the gay-conversion therapists he listended to years ago.

Bit players in “Shit Sandwich” include Reince Priebus, whose penis shaped head perfectly suits what flows from his mouth; the “31-year old” Josef Goebbels wannabe Stephen “I-never-got-laid-in-High School, and-my-liberal-parents-ignored-me,” Miller, and Sean “Spitting Spicey” Spicer, plucked from obscurity from a truck stop toilet in Tallahassee.

 Although, the “well-oiled machine” of “Shit Sandwich” has been boffo at the box-office, it’s still not enough for the approval-addicted “Apprentice”; minute-by-minute he must mainline more and more mainstream media attention in order to breath. His tweets are a mere Russian “ruse” for new plot lines, equating his attacks on Nordstrom’s and Saturday Night Live,with attacks on the Judiciary and the CIA. If you mock everything, then everything is a mockery.

Consistent with the story-line of “Shit Sandwich” is Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, a polluter’s pawn who rose to power by covering up the damage of toxic Chicken Manure (aka: “Chicken Shit”) and earthquake producing fracking in his home state of Oklahoma — actions that have probably caused more Okies’ deaths than the Oklahoma City bombing 20 years ago by a Fascist extremist. Pruitt’s approval by the GOP-lead Senate comes on the heels of the surfacing of a 27 year old Oprah Winfrey Show tape of Trump’s  Putzy Labor nominee’s wife dressed in disguise where she testified that the billionaire burger flipper hit her with his hamburgers, again and again. Not even the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz could make this stuff up, and the “Shit Sandwich’s” ratings blew the roof off the White House.

In short, “The Apprentice,” who came to power riding the back of the media, was now in danger of ending up inside its’ bowels, unable to satiate his own narcissism, unglued by criticism, with his out-of-control ego unable to withstand the withering scrutiny of his lies, his life and his lack of talent. Will CNN’s Jeff Zucker help flush “Shit Sandwich” down the drain? Will CBS’ Les Moonves keep up the car-accident coverage because its great for the his company’s bottom line?

 Stay tuned for BREAKING NEWS at the top of this sentence.

Mario Cuomo: The Anti-Trump

(Mario Cuomo, standing high above Donald Trump in term of human values, dignity, respect for the law, and holding the lamp of freedom high for Immigrants and Refugees the world over.  The Albany Times Union of Sunday, January 29, 2017, published my commentary on Mario Cuomo: The Anti-Trump, accompanied by a terrific graphic, pictured above.  To more easily read the full commentary, I’ve included full text and a link to the digital piece below:

 

It was always right there: Mario Cuomo as the anti-Trump.

Sure, they were raised just a few miles from each other in Queens, but worlds apart: Cuomo atop his father’s modest little grocery store in South Jamaica, where he didn’t learn to speak English until he was 8; Donald Trump in his father’s opulent, 23-room mansion high on a hill in exclusive Jamaica Estates where working-class Italians were not welcome.

 

That was years before the Trumps would do all they could, including violate federal and state anti-discrimination laws, to keep working-class families of a different color out of Trump-built working-class housing in Brooklyn. Unlike Cuomo, who lived among struggling immigrant families from diverse backgrounds, Trump lived a gilded life, a sheltered, elite existence where he was chauffeured to his privileged private school in his mother’s rose-colored Rolls-Royce.

 

Each family had far different views of their own histories: the German Drumpfs Americanized their name for business reasons; the Italian-born Andrea and Immaculata Cuomo, proud of their lineage, language and land of origin, were interested in what other immigrant families wanted: putting bread on the table for their children. They had nothing to hide.

 

Any examination of Mario Cuomo’s words and actions during his years as New York’s governor, and as a national advocate for human and immigrant rights, makes his views clear. In an address to NYU’s Urban Research Center on Immigration, 25 years ago this June, Cuomo’s prescience about growing American nationalistic “Know-Nothingism” was ominous:

 

“…some candidates tried to resurrect the perennial anti-immigrant specter by talking about the ‘unraveling of America’ and about ‘taking America back.’ It’s the same nativist sloganeering and parochial fear-mongering that’s been aimed at every group of new immigrants throughout our history.”

 

Then, in eerie anticipation of the virulent xenophobia that the son of a reluctant German looking down from a cloistered castle in Queens unleashed upon America in 2016, Cuomo spoke of his own family’s experience:

 

“I thank God the country didn’t say to them, ‘we can’t afford you; you might take someone else’s job, or cost us too much. I’m glad they didn’t ask my father if he could speak English, because he couldn’t; I’m glad they didn’t ask my mother if she could count, because she couldn’t…I’m glad they didn’t ask my father what special skills he brought to this great and dynamic nation, because there was no special expertise to the way he handled a shovel when he dug trenches for sewer pipe. I’m glad they let him in anyway.”

 

The differences between Mario Cuomo and Donald Trump went far beyond the separate universes into which each was born. Vast chasms of values, beliefs, character and respect for all people and cultures separated the two. Trump’s opening slime against Mexicans when he consciously slammed an entire culture to kick off his hate-filled 2016 presidential campaign smelled like the slurs hurled about Italian-Americans, when Cuomo’s name was mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.

 

Unlike Trump, Cuomo led a life of great integrity, with zero tolerance for injustice, and profound reverence for the law, for all faiths, families, and human dignity. Addressing an NAACP conference at the New York Hilton, on December 11, 1991 — just one week before declining to run for the presidency in 1992 — Cuomo’s voice quaked with emotion when he came to the subject of racism:

 

“The truth is that the ugly and dangerous instinct still lives among us … the instinct to stigmatize, to stereotype, to scapegoat, to malign people because of the tint of their skin, the God they pray to, or the place their parents came from …”

 

Cuomo knew, from personal experience, of the damage done by stigma and negative stereotyping, fighting the ugly lies of “mob connections” for years. “My whole life has been a statement against that crap,” he argued passionately when questioned why he refused to deliver a JFK-style “Houston Ministers” speech to squash the rumors.

 

Trump’s life made exactly the opposite statement. His “incestuous intertwining with organized crime,” had been documented for decades, according to Wayne Barrett in his book “Trump: The Deals & the Downfall.” Trump took his counsel from sycophants of the mob like Roy Cohn, and, for years, did business with the New York and Philadelphia crime families. Writing in Politico last year, author David Cay Johnston put it bluntly: “No other candidate for the White House… has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and crooks.”

 

Trump was an amoral actor doing business with amoral peers. “Garbage pails, ” as John A. Gotti, Jr., described the type in his autobiography “Shadow of My Father,” when he wrote of his desire to quit the Mob. No souls, no hearts, no nothing — the complete antithesis of Mario Cuomo, whom the mob guys knew was “unreachable,” and respected him for it. Even they could see that Cuomo — the anti-thug — pointed the way toward a better life for their children.

 

Steve Villano, a former Albany resident now living in Napa, Calif., was a director of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo’s New York City press office, and is the author of “Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother,” to be published in May by Heliotrope Books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/Mario-the-anti-Donald-10891540.php?cmpid=twitter-desktop

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