We Stand With Rossana

33rd Ward Working Families Condemns Far-Right Smear Campaign Targeting Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez

Tuesday, July 11th, 2023

We, the steering committee of 33rd Ward Working Families, strongly condemn the efforts by far-right agitators to smear and harass 33rd Ward Ald. Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez and unequivocally stand with her in her continued efforts to replace Chicago’s monuments to imperialist tyrants Christopher Columbus and Italo Balbo with monuments that do proper justice to the city’s rich Italian-American heritage.

Since Ald. Rodríguez-Sánchez tweeted on June 28 soliciting ideas for replacement monuments, her social media post has been deliberately distorted as “anti-Italian” by suburban conservative activists disingenuously claiming to speak for a majority of Italian-Americans while working only to advance hate. It does not surprise us that a figure like Ron Onesti, with his history of hosting virulent anti-LGBTQIA+ groups at his Des Plaines Theater and hosting the neo-fascist Proud Boys at pro-Columbus rallies, would attempt to manufacture a political hit job against one of Chicago’s leading progressive voices. But it is nonetheless very disappointing that local media has repeatedly and uncritically presented this assault as a genuine reflection of the sentiment of our city’s Italian-Americans writ large, while minimizing the dissenting voices of organizations like the Italian American Heritage Society of Chicago who stand behind Ald. Rodríguez-Sánchez.

For the primary author of this statement, the proud grandson of a man named Jack Benevento who fought against fascism and helped to liberate a concentration camp during the Second World War, the only affront to my sense of Italian-American heritage during this entire episode has been to watch my ethnic identity hijacked by those looking to stoke bigotry and defend imperialism. Columbus, in his genocidal conquest of the New World, and Balbo, the fascist Governor-General of colonized Libya, are quite simply not relevant figures in the Italian-American cultural experience. They are symbols of white supremacist aggression and terror. We cannot afford to be so naive as to fall for the crocodile tears of those who support memorializing these men as they feign offense at Ald. Rodríguez-Sánchez’s utterly benign tweet.