Mary Ann Sorrentino's 2 Cents Worth

Opinions, Observations and Musings

Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
RI or FL depending on season, USA
June 19
Mary Ann is a columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel, the Providence Phoenix and other newspapers and has appeared on She was an Associated Press Award-winning radio talk host for 13 years and the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of RI 1977-1987. Her most recent book, ABORTION - The A Word (Gadd Books) is available on line and in major bookstores.


Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 15, 2010 10:08AM

Paladino: Not Only a Fool, A Disgrace to the Italian Ethic

Rate: 18 Flag

          It may have been naïve of me, but I kept hoping the Sons of Italy, the Italian-American Anti-Defamation League or some such outfit would have spoken up by now on what an embarrassment NY Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is to the rest of us in his ethnic group. Given our traditional ethic, those outfits are still controlled by men, and most of them the same type of closeted macho men that Paladino is. But when top Rabbis and Archbishops are photographed embracing this fascist candidate, all bets, it seems to me, are off.

          Many Italian-Americans of my generation (and, sadly, of our children’s generation as well) have known men just like Carl Paladino: we’ve had uncles, godfathers, or even brothers or husbands just like him. These are the men who would never dream of dropping the F bomb in front of a woman, yet privately they say and email to each other the most disgusting misogynist comments and jokes.

          Beyond their fantasy of subservient women, barefoot and pregnant, spending their days longing for the moment when their “Italian stallion” returns to the nest to “light their fires” the Paladinos of the world also dislike and degrade anything or anyone not “just like us.” Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans – all people of color—are obviously “inferior.” Gays and Lesbians are “unnatural” objects of ridicule and hatred. Even other ethnics—Irish-Americans and Jews, to name just two—can never really be colleagues to the true brand of Paladino bigot

          Puzo’s Godfather sums it up this way when he warns his consigliere Tom Hagen that his enemies will move to murder the Godfather by trying to work through someone in his inner circle. Hagen is a likely candidate because, as the Godfather explains, “…you’re Irish.”

Hagen protests that he is not Irish at all, but, in fact, German.

The Godfather nods and clarifies, “To them…that’s Irish!”


Tom Hagen 


The xenophobia of the macho Italo mind is difficult for many outside our circle to understand: it is even difficult for those of us in the circle to understand, but we know it exists because we have been subject to it for generations.


And, I might add, many of us are sick of it and we are even sicker about being defined by men like Paladino, who paints himself as typical of our group in 2010.


Carl Paladino is not the Italian-American we have struggled to become by now. He does not represent the majority of our group who have educated themselves, worked hard, and learned the lessons of brotherhood and sisterhood, equality, tolerance, and the advantages of a homogeneous society based on mutual respect.


While Andrew Cuomo, Paladino’s Democratic opponent, may be an imperfect candidate as well, he does not, at least, carry the generational baggage of bigotry and even flaunt distaste for those unlike himself.


If Italian-Americans continue to allow men like Carl Paladino to define who they are and what they believe, they are sentencing themselves and their progeny to more generations of stereotyping as smarmy fascists with a high tolerance for bigotry, sexism, and hypocrisy,


I, for one, don’t think my forebears came to America and endured all they did to have their children and grandchildren cast in such a disgraceful image.


And I thought it was about time one of us said so, aloud.

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I think if he was a little younger he would be right at home on "Jersey Shore'-but those young men and women are not seeking office. He is really giving a bad name to many men who would never dream of behaving the way he does. I also find it really funny that he proclaims how pro-family he is, while also raising a child he had with his mistress. But boy, those gays and Muslims, and women-well, we all know about his feelings for those who are not him-anybody else is somehow substandard. I think his recent comments are finally coming home to bite him in the butt, though. That 'wonderful' Orthodox rabbi withdrew his endorsement when it was found out that one of Palladino's properties was being operated as a gay bar! I am hoping people would wise up and not vote for this d*****bag! R
I'm proud of you and thank you!
I have heard bits and pieces about him.. he is not someone you want messing around with the state of affairs as they say.
What a travesty
Rated with hugs
Thanks Libmom, Bonnie and Linda...and welcome Razzle!
(Bonnie...I meant to write this sooner but I am in FL now and my computer capability here is snail-like and therefore discouraging sometimes.)
His misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia don't surprise me in the least because I grew up in a Sicilian family (which thinks even mainland Italians are inferior ::eye roll:: ).

Seeing as how my entire family is full of asshats of his ilk, I'll give you one guess why I haven't talked to any of them since I was 13 y.o. (and out).

Above and beyond his personal scumbaggery, is his political skulduggery. He is the perfect example that shows there is NO difference between a conservative Democrat (which he was for 31 years) and a Republican (which he's been since 2005). They BOTH suck.
He does provide some comic relief in this age of insanity. Too bad he's in a position to actually do something about the insanity. R
Paladino is more than a disgrace to the Italian Ethic. He's a disgrace to everybody's ethic.
Interetsing post.
Not being of Italian descent, I won't comment on that, but as a New Yorker, I can say his candidacy is a disgrace to the state.
Every ethnic group has individuals it isn't proud of. As you point out, the problem arises when individuals think a criticism of him would be a reflection on me. Thanks. R
I'm Italian-American, too, and Paladino sure as hell doesn't represent me or my family!
I think ALL politicans are a disgrace. After all, they're ALL whores and servants of the Wealthy Ruling Class, working for corporations and big banks while enriching themselves. No politician leaves politics poor, after all!!
I agree with your basic point, but I think you may be subconsciously buying into the stereotypes yourself simply by speaking so much about Paladino's "Italianness" and not mentioning - perhaps not noticing - that his opponent, Andrew Cuomo, is every bit as Italian.
I still wonder if Tea Party Express support for Paladino is sincere because of shared beliefs or if he is being set up to discredit the Tea Party idea. We will likely never know. It will be intersting to see how any of these clowns will perform if elected. I doubt any will serve more than one term.
Being of predominantly Irish and German descent I sure as hell don't want to carry responsibility for others of my ethnicity and I don't think anyone else should have to, either. Being from Minnesota I am extremely assimilated and don't fully understand strong ethnic identification. I think ethnic identity diminished as the population moved westward.

All that said, I don't tend to attribute Paladino and his role in the freak show that's passing for an election campaign to anyone based on shared ethnicity. If the Italian organizations named don't speak out against him, I can only hope it's because they don't want to spotlight him as a part of their group. I can also hope that your focus on these unsavory ethnic tendencies is magnified by close proximity.

I can hope, right?
Special thanks to those of you who commented in the last 24 hours, having had to slog through at least 9 (count 'em) spam shopping posts in my comments section that I just removed....(Does anyone give those idiots any business???) Anyway...I appreciate yout taking the time to read and comment...and rate!
I'm a human being of the human race. The family ancestry hatred and self-loathing for being of Italian descent is inherent in this writing. I am not related to this man. I don't know who he is, what he has done or what he is running for...I do not need to apologize for him or exort others who have descended from Italians to be responsible for him or apologize for him. The stereotyping and quoting from a book based on the mafia is insulting. What does that have to do with most Americans of Italian descent in America? Despite the movie and TV stereotyping, most of the Americans of Italian descent are NOT in the mafia nor have anything to do with this man. Why is this kind of hatred, prejudice and stereotypic grouping of Italians acceptable on OS when if the same kind of derogatory grouping and prejudice was aimed at Hispanics, Homosexuals, Americans of African descent and other artificially grouped people, the writer would not be on the cover but black balled off of OS? Should all Americans of African descent be held accountable for someone of the same descent who commits murder or other heinous crimes? How can we group and judge people by one person's bad actions? Maybe when we start seeing each other as human beings instead of continually needing to group, stereotype and label, we may learn to be genuinely open and accepting instead of just pretending we are...
Dear Ms. Delmare-
If you were at all familiar with mny writings here on OS and elsewhere you might know that I agree with you, in fact, in many of the points you raise. We are NOT responsible for Paladino's idiocy. But not challenging HIS constant need to define himself ethnically allows him to perpetuate the very negative stereotypes you (and I) detest. In any event thanks for the read and thoughtful comments.
"Many Italian-Americans of my generation (and, sadly, of our children’s generation as well) have known men just like Carl Paladino: we’ve had uncles, godfathers, or even brothers or husbands just like him. These are the men who would never dream of dropping the F bomb in front of a woman, yet privately they say and email to each other the most disgusting misogynist comments and jokes."

"The xenophobia of the macho Italo mind is difficult for many outside our circle to understand: it is even difficult for those of us in the circle to understand, but we know it exists because we have been subject to it for generations."

"And, I might add, many of us are sick of it and we are even sicker about being defined by men like Paladino, who paints himself as typical of our group in 2010."

After reading the first two of these quotes, it is clear to me that the third is utterly inaccurate. It is not Palladino who "paints himself as typical" of Italo-Americans. IT IS YOU! Ms. Delmare had it exactly right. This post is a piece of internalized ethnic bigotry if ever I saw one. And the responses congratulating you, whether their authors know it or not, reflect just plain bigotry.
The Irish need not feel themselves to be typifieded by Christine O'Donnell, Anglos need not feel themselves to be typified by Sharon Angle, African Americans need not feel themselves to be typified by Michael Steele. Nor do any of these groups need, or feel the need, to denounce these candidates on an ethnic basis, as you apparently want the sons of Italy to do with Palladino. Why because they know that to judge the whole by an individual is stupid, as well as hateful. But you give license to people to perform exactly that sort of "massification." And why? Because you believe Palladino really does represent what you call the "Italo mind." My God! you believe there is such a thing as the "Italo mind," like we all come with the same genetic or cultural disposition to think a certain way. What a racist concept!
Under the guise of standing up for your people, our people, you have given your readers permission to think of us as "all the same," to continue to associate us with Mafioso, and to think that they are somehow being enlightened in doing so. Nice, very nice.
Being an outsider, my understanding of Italianita is very sketchy. I can think of only two cultural values cited by writers as definitive:

1) Furberia, meaning cunning, or sociopathy raised to a virtue;

2) Bella figura, meaning a concern for decorum, a horror of making an ass of oneself in public.

I can't tell whether Paladino has any of the first. (Small wonder, that; the whole goal of furberia must mean letting nobody know just how much of it you have.) But as for the second, he's empty. His figura is about as schifosa as it could possibly get. In fact, I'd say he deserves an honorary doctorate from the Silvio Berlusconi School of Charm.
Grazie mille! Unfortunately, many in the NIAF & elsewhere will just knee-jerk back the GOP banner - despite what they do for our image here or elsewhere -- Little do they know, excepting for Berlusconi & his official standing as head of the MCP, this stuff is not stood for, even in Italy. Thanks for calling a spade a spade.
Max- I agree he is unfamiliar with the bella figura concept, but he is furbo enough to have gotten to be their candidate for gov. Go figure. Thanks for taking the time to read/comment.

Francesca- Grazie, apprezzo molto le tue parole.

libertarius- I learned long ago that even the most valid commentary will have those who disagree vehemently. In such a case, in my view, the commentator should accept disagreement with grace. So thanks for the read and thoughtful response.
Excellent post. I know this man personally. You describe him aptly. Rated
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Of course, I completely understand and agree with you wholeheartedly. I grimaced and frowned through "Sambo" and "Step 'n Fetch It" feeling much of what you express. Makes you just want to smack somebody.
This is dead-on, and sorely needed. And, as a native Buffalonian, I can tell you most of us are mortified by him. Did you know about how he fleeced his poor aunt, essentially stealing her home? A loathsome bully.
I spent part of a class introducing Jerre Mangione's beautiful memoir, _Mount Allegro_ to my SUNY Oswego students, knowing full well many of them never hear the positive side of their history. And it's about a vanished Rochester, just down the road, when family was everything and a defense against the ugly prejudice of the city. Today Rochester is proud of being a city with a strong Italian-American flavor. And Buffalo has plenty of winners: the hard-working folk who rejected him in the city by a margin of 2 to 1. Paladino is a dinosaur, and I can't wait for his type to become extinct.