Italy and Italians victims of driveby smears and “yellow journalism”

di Joe Volpe del 20 August 2018

TORONTO - One should have expected better from “credible mainstream media”. Alas, the temptation to succumb to the “gotcha partner” of what passes for investigative journalism is too much to passup for lazy sen sationalists. It barely covers up malice of intent. It seems that there is no tragedy befalling the Italian Peninsula, or the Italian Diaspora, that is not conveniently and immediately at tributed to Mafia activity. In other words, Italians deserve everything that happens to them. The latest example is the horrific collapse, on August 14, of the Morandi bridge connecting east and west Genova, a thriving, historic, port city in Liguria (a Northern Province bordering the French Riviera). At last count, 43 people lost their lives. Dislocation of thousands of others for at least two years as repairs and reconstruction follow their normal course; the challenges of adjustments by business and return to “normalcy” by the general population might have been topics for some journalists and their editors to pursue. Not so fast. Canada’s CTV, on the evening of the tragedy, rushed to provide two “authoritative” reasons for the bridge’s collapse. The first (supported by a graph purporting to illustrate budgetary disbursements over the last 10 years) was related to declining investments on the part of the National Government on Infrastructure Spending. The second was attributed to the infiltration by organized crime of the cement and construction business. No charts, graphs or corroborating names. The Morandi Bridge, built over a three year period, from 1965 to 1967 (50 years ago), was an engineering marvel for the period. In fact, the company built one spanning the Columbia River in British Columbia, near Castlegar, in 1965. The owner, now the international conglomerate, Benetton, runs the biggest infrastructure manage ment company worldwide, Autostrade, responsible for main taining roads, bridges and tunnels. There are over 3,000 of the latter two in a country ¼ the size of Ontario. Bad news travels fast particularly in Italy, where scepticism and cynicism are two traits so deeply embedded in the Italian psyche that Catholicism has yet to succeed in eradicating it from the population’s DNA. Every Italian journalist, political entity and magistrate/prosecutor was immediately on the hunt for “culprits” who or what was responsible. Examinations and analyses of the impact potentially of with anything current, or relevant, including seismic shifts, the impact of global warming on the topography, unforseen weather fluctuations and any lack of due diligence by “the caretaker”. No stone is/will be unturned. Yet, by August 16, while authorities were also concerned with search, rescue and burials, some “insightful investigators” already had the answers. On August 18, Canada’s National Post led with the headline “Bridge disaster a stark reminder of how mafia, corruption have left Italy’s infrastructure crumbling”. The author was a Nick Squires of the Telegraph, a British publication, which had published the article the day before. Six paragraphs into the story, there is a disclaimer of sorts: “there is no suggestion, at this point, that organized crime had any role in the construction of the bridge”. But, the implication is clear: one never knows, this is, after all, Italy and Italians. We would be condemned for yellow journalism were we to at tribute this malicious driveby smearing of an entire ethnocultural group to the National Post’s business ethics, as evidenced by its founder, a convicted felon who had previously renounced his Canadian citizenship to pursue foreign glories and honours. We won’t stoop that low. The man is, by Canadian standards, a great thinker who has done his time and turned a new page. We won’t even suggest that the Post’s current owners (an American vulture fund) is waiting to unload an unreadable asset because the Canadian government sees no value in advertising in its pages. So it relies on tabloid journalism from Britain to fill its pages. Regrettably, this type of journalism isn’t new. It must be “genetic”. In 2016, the Canadian mainstream media had a field day with this theme of “the mafia did it” when an earthquake demolished two 1,000 year old Medieval towns in Central Italy. 299 people were buried beneath the rubble. Maybe the reporting serves as a reminder for all those who shred their heritage in a rush to be “like the other guy” that, Pirandello, twentieth century playwright and philosopher, was bang on when he said “you are what others think you to be”.

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