The Fine Italian Nose

Arise Sons and Daughters of Italy! We are mocked, insulted, and challenged to respond.

We have much of which to be proud.  We are of a people who have been disproportionately in the vanguard of Western Civilization. There is scarcely an artist, musician, politician, lawyer, or architect who can walk a day in his or her profession without hearing the footsteps of an Italian who has preceded them. But let us be candid. There is one thing above all others of which we are proud. We, quite simply, as a people, have the most noble and esthetically pleasing noses ever to grace the human face.

The Italian Nose, like the Basilica of St. Peters in Rome, transcends mere utility. The Basilica is not just a place for people to pray. It is a place for people to pray within a beauty that suggests God. The Italian Nose is more than the foyer of the human respiratory system; it is a biological structure designed by God to give beauty and elegance to all who breathe through it.

We Italians have been admirably humble in respect to our God-given gift. We look at a portrait of Dante and comment that he was a divine poet. We have the good graces not to point out that next to the architecture of his exquisite nose, his poetry becomes almost insignificant. For centuries we have pointed out to tourists the beauty of God and Man reaching out to each other over the vault of the Sistine Chapel, but we scarcely ever mention the magnificent Nose of God there depicted- an Italian Nose. The glory of the rule of Caesar Augustus is studied by historians the world over, but Italians seldom let on that it was his commanding nose that gave him a natural authority over others. We note Buonarroti's sculpted Moses, a tribute to the Jews, but we politely refrain from mentioning that this rendering of the great lawgiver bears an Italian and not a Jewish nose.

But now our noses are mocked. Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a bigot in tacky liturgical vestments, the recently and conveniently retired pastor of Barack Obama's church on the south side of Chicago, has referred to Italians as "garlic noses". Our Mediterranean blood boils. In the long history of racial and ethnic calumnies, few are more offensive and farther from the truth.

Pick up a bulb of garlic. You are struck immediately that it is, as the name implies, a bulb. The dictionary tells us that a bulb is a globular bud. Look at a photo of Sophia Loren, even in old age. Her nose a globular bud? I think not. Is that a globular bud on the visage of Marcello Mastroianni? No, it is a fine and stately Italian Nose.

Truth be told, if Reverend Wright could ever again safely join a group of Italians, the nearest thing to a globular bud in that assembly would be Dr. Wright's own rather flattened and chubby honker. Thus do bigots project their own shortcomings onto others.

Of course, as has been repeatedly pointed out, Rev Wright by himself is no more than a repulsive cipher (with a bad nose), but it is the presence of Barack Obama in his congregation that is disturbing. Does Barack secretly share Wright's view of the Italian nose as a bulb of garlic? If he is elected President will he repeat such prejudices from the White House? Will he be able to deal impartially with Italian-Americans or will he snicker silently in their presence thinking of their garlic noses?

This is a matter of considerable moment. Obama must come forward and clearly disassociate himself from Reverend Wright's ethnic slur. He must show his sincerity by announcing publicly that Italians do not have "garlic noses" and that their noses are, to the contrary, among the natural wonders of the world.