These days we old-fashioned southerners in Raleigh are getting an education about Italians as the war between the Tedescos and Margiottas (who’ve taken over the School Board) and our local ‘Progressives’ (who’re livid at the Italians for ending busing) roars along.
About the only person in town sounding reasonable these days is the News and Observer humorist Barry Saunders who’s having a field day poking fun at both sides.
The other night the ‘Progressives’ got together and held a camp meeting and compared new Italian School Board Czar, John Tedesco, to the Klu Klux Klan – then in the newspaper the next morning Tedesco shot back, producing absolute proof he’s not a KKKer, saying he had ‘a few girlfriends who are African-Americans and Latinos.’
That tickled Saunders so much he commended Tedesco for his “rainbow coalition love life” – a touch of humor lost on a dour ‘Progressive’ lady who said Tedesco’s claim was “degrading to Black and Hispanic women.”
Next, somehow, a Duke University professor jumped into the fray trying to explain the history of race relations in the South, a mystery which mostly left the Italians puzzled and madder still, provoking Tedesco to send a sort of epistle to the Reverend Nancy Petty (an ally of the professor’s) of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
Tedesco’s epistle had him siding with everyone from Henry David Thoreau to the ‘beloved Dr. Martin Luther King’ – then he declared he’s got a ‘heart full of love’ and invited Reverend Nancy to coffee.
So, suddenly, we’ve got Baptists, Progressives, the newspaper, the TV station, a phalanx of Italians and a Duke professor all going at it hammer and tongs and any old-fashioned southerner with a lick of sense is laying low.
Back when this rhubarb started I figured our local ‘Progressives’ would make short shrift of the Italians, but now I’m beginning to suspect I underestimated the Italians and, instead, they’re carrying the banner for a legion of highly militarized wanderers from New York and New Jersey who’ve settled in the Raleigh suburbs. We’ve never seen anything like this before in Raleigh; the Italians have brought a whole new kind of politics to Dixieland.