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Just Sayin': Italian Americans don't deserve to be targets

The vandalized St. Peter's Italian Catholic Church in

The vandalized St. Peter's Italian Catholic Church in Los Angeles. Credit: TNS/Hayley Smith

California is supposed to be the leading example of progressivism, which activists claim supports inclusion and equality. The California state government achieved its goal of ridding its state of Columbus Day, but for some people, this action was clearly not enough.

St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church in Los Angeles was vandalized Oct. 11 by apparent anti-Columbus Day activists who covered the outside of the church in blotches of red paint. According to the Los Angeles Times, a banner was found resting on the church’s front steps. The banner read "Stop colonizing our land." Graffiti was found on the sidewalk that spelled out phrases such as "Land Back," "USA" and "Stolen Land."

St. Peter’s holds masses spoken in Italian and is known to be a predominantly Italian American church. Given that these actions took place on Columbus Day, the largest single celebration of Italian American heritage in the world, the church vandalism was designated a hate crime.

As a second-generation Italian American, I was disheartened to hear that something like this happened in response to Columbus Day, which doesn’t even exist in the state of California anymore.

My question to those who vandalized St. Peter’s is: When will it be enough? If I judged their actions by the evidence given to me, it’s clear that even if Columbus Day was abolished federally, this would have still happened. Columbus or no Columbus, the trigger simply seems to be the idea that Italian Americans are celebrating their heritage on the second Monday of October.

Do the contributions that Italian Americans have made to this country not matter anymore? Why aren’t these same activists who are striving for equality coming to the defense of Italian Americans?

Eleven Italian immigrants were lynched in 1891 in New Orleans while future president Theodore Roosevelt privately praised these actions. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed for murder in 1927, and their guilt is still questioned.

Hundreds of Italians were interned in U.S. camps during World War II despite 1.5 million Italian Americans serving in the war, with 14 of them winning Medals of Honor.

I shouldn’t have to list the reasons why Italian Americans celebrate their heritage on Columbus Day. But it seems to me that Italian Americans and their contributions to this country apparently don’t matter anymore.

— Anthony Sciarratta, West Babylon