Does honor among thieves make honorable men?


By: Leena Falciglia5184924614_8c6914be25_z.jpg
Everywhere we look, we see traces of man's inhumanity toward man; we see the results of pride and greed and hatred in our morning papers, and on our evening news. There are many dangers in this world, some real and some imagined. There are men who have risen to such power, that they rule with an iron hand in many parts of our cities. Pride, greed and hatred give evil men the power to carry out any evil deed often undetected. As long as some parts of our cities remain poor and desolate, as long as people are desperate enough to hope for a change or a new life, as long as politicians and law enforcement look the other way, as long as there is corruption in our legal system, as long as there is greed, as long as there are men and women filled with hatred, La Cosa Nostra remains a very real and present threat in our societies.

Frank Sinatra and 'the Sopranos' made the Mafia seem cool, however these mobsters are anything but cool. They are actually brutal, bloodthirsty criminals who would just as soon stab you in the eye with a fork or rob your grandmother of her life savings and walk away laughing as look at you. The Godfather, Hollywood's take on the Mafia, has romanticized the underworld and has taken many of us hostage. We have come to think of these men, who have no qualms about killing, as men of honor out to serve and protect their own. Movies such as GoodFellas depict the mob as, well, good. The perception that the Mafia in America isn't what it used to be is, unfortunately, false. The Assistant Director in charge of the FBI's New York Field Office said, 'the notion that today's mob families are more genteel and less violent than the past is put to lie by the charges contained in the indictments unsealed today'. What about in the streets of Montreal?

The slaying of Nick Rizzuto Jr. back in December of 2009 was a big deal here in Montreal. Some have been personally moved, a perfect example of the compassion that is evoked in some regarding the Mafia. In Mafia Today, Linda, a reader had this to say. 'I know Nick. He was the kindest, sweet gentleman - a good friend. He did not deserve this horrible tragic fate. I hope they find the responsible animal who did this to him.' From Arch, 'I'm sure the mafia will leave no stone unturned until they find the killer of the boss' son. And when they do find him, and they will, I'm sure they won't turn him over to the police. I'm also sure the killer will die a slow death.' And From New Jersey Rules! 'Condolences from Brooklyn.'

"Is there not honour among thieves? Is not the strength of injustice only a remnant of justice? Is not absolute injustice absolute weakness also? A house that is divided against itself cannot stand; two men who quarrel detract from one another's strength, and he who is at war with himself is the enemy of himself and the gods."The Republic, by Plato.

There is a structure in the Mafia. They are not simply a collection of petty criminals. The Mafia enjoys a hierarchy that includes the boss (known in fiction as the Godfather and in both fiction and real life as the don); the underboss; a collection of men known as capos who are the head of certain sections of the overall mob 'family' and soldiers who do the real dirty work. The Mafia is so organized and has such a vast army. Such organization demands the highest of order and respect among its members

We have looked at the Mafia as an organization, but what about the Mafia as a family? Honor in LCN (La Cosa Nostra) is the code by which each member lives by, held in the highest esteem; showing respect to their wives and children and mothers and sisters, yet having no problem exploiting women in the sex trade. How can men who are capable of such horrendous acts of violence be capable of honor?

Honor among thieves, a phrase that has been the glue that has kept the men and women of the mafia together, one until betrayed, when all bets are off. When trust is betrayed and honor is no longer a factor, these men go from being protectors to becoming destroyers. Lions dressed in sheep's clothing, playing on the sympathies of the people, lending a hand where it is needed, becoming the voice of the people, are the most dangerous of all, we never see them coming, for they hide under the banner of the 'Honor Code'.

Image source: Flickr

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