One of the most disturbing things people have said about Mario Cuomo after his death was that he didn’t run for President because he didn’t want to expose his mob connections.
The fact that there are no “mob connections” with Cuomo doesn’t stop the rumors. As governor of one of the largest states in the country, he was under much scrutiny, especially once he was seen as a possible Presidential candidate. (And let me say as an aside, I really wanted him to run. He would have been a great President.) He came from an immigrant family and got where he was by working hard and graduating at the top of his law school class. Even as the valedictorian, he had trouble finding a job because he was Italian and had no connections, mob or otherwise. Nothing of the sort ever turned up other than rumors. The press loves a good scandal, so it’s not like they didn’t look.
But let’s discuss what led to those rumors, which were completely unfounded. Why did they surround him and not other candidates?
Solely because he was Italian.
Now, I’m half Italian and I’ve even gotten a few comments like that over the years. My father came to America when he was a baby and he ended up in an orphanage so he didn’t have much of an Italian upbringing. My mother is of “Pennsylvania Dutch” stock. We were raised as Methodists. Mom knew nothing about Italian cooking, we had no huge extended Italian family visiting us, and to this day, I don’t know anyone in “the mob.” I have no more knowledge of Italian culture than any other kid raised in Richmond, Virginia. But the stereotype persists.
And that’s why rumors of those sorts are hurtful. People who would never think of saying that all blacks are gangsters apparently have no problem assuming all Italians know or are mobsters.