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Italian Americans Weigh In On Imus Controversy

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900 kcafiero@osia.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - April 13, 2007 ­ A coalition of Italian American organizations has added its condemnation of the recent remarks Don Imus directed at the Rutgers University Women's Basketball team in a full-page ad to run nationally in Variety early next week. Click here to view the ad.

"The coalition expresses hope that the national debate that this incident has triggered will lead to the eradication of the media's unfortunate double standard of tolerance concerning the negative stereotyping of Italian Americans" said Lawrence Auriana, chairman of the Columbus Citizens Foundation and the group's spokesman.

The coalition consists of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, the Sons of Italy® Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ) and the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), three non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving Italian heritage while supporting a wide range of philanthropic and cultural activities.

The coalition ad notes that Don Imus and his producer, Bernard McGuirk have also taken aim at Italian Americans. During the show's Nov. 2, 2005 broadcast, shortly after President Bush nominated Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, McGuirk called Alito a "meat-ball sucking wop," adding "First Scalia, now Alito. What is [President Bush] doing? Interpreting the Constitution or mixing concrete?" He ended, wishing Alito luck "And to hell with those who don't like the fact that he's a God-fearing guido."

The coalition finds such ethnic epithets as abhorrent as racial and religious insults and need to be dealt with just as severely. Of equal concern was the fact that no journalist, columnist or talk show host criticized Imus and McGuirk for using such offensive language.

The media's silence is further evidence of an unfortunate double standard of tolerance when it comes to Italian Americans and political correctness even when such offensive language is directed at a respected jurist who now sits on the highest court in the country, the coalition notes.

The ad expresses the hope that as a result of this latest episode, "such slurs against a person's race, religion or ethnic heritage, including that of Italian Americans, will become culturally and socially unacceptable in this great nation of ours."

The Columbus Citizens Foundation (www.columbuscitizensfd.org); The Commission for Social Justice® (www.osia.org); The National Italian American Foundation (www.niaf.org)