My friend, Italian journalist Alessandra Nucci, has written and sent me this article.
Italy has a new president, Sergio Mattarella, the first President to come from Sicily, and the brother of a lawmaker who was murdered by the mafia. The picture above shows the scene of the crime, where Mattarella, then a young university professor, is holding in his arms the body of his dying brother, Piersanti, Governor of Sicily.
In our system, it’s the Prime Minister who heads the government and gets to make the decisions, but it’s the President who is head of State and gets to decide who can be Prime Minister. Sort of like the monarch in a constitutional monarchy, but with a lot more leeway for making independent decisions.
This important figure today, because of the tragedy in his family, which he has never capitalized on, never playing the victim, can stand for the 99% of Italians who are NOT linked to the mafia and for the vast majority of the country who are even, directly or indirectly, VICTIMS of the mafia, down to even losing their lives.
So please, world, do away with your unfair stereotypes. Please realize that prejudice becomes rooted and indestructible when it is confirmed by an endless line of tv series where the noblest Italian trait is the gravity of Godfather Marlon Brando.
Not only is our real-life new President a symbol of the honesty and resilience of the average Italian, but he also disproves the loud and uncouth behavior depicted as being typical of Italians. Whatever else he may turn out to do, President Mattarella is honestly soft-spoken and dignified, a man of few words whose aplomb marks him out as more similar to an archetypical Englishman than a Sicilian.
I am sending this out because the international press very rarely says anything about Italy and if it does speak it is usually to register something that draws ridicule and scorn.