In case you haven’t heard, Chris Cuomo (opinionated CNN commentator), was recently caught videoed as he was engaged in conversation by an unknown bystander. This is nothing new, of course. It seems to be the practice (even sport) of the day. Say something rude, crude, or lewd to some sort of celeb and make sure the cameras are rolling.
Unfortunately for Chris, he didn’t simply pass it off and allow it to roll off his back. He immediately jumped into an animated, curse-filled argument with the perpetrator. The fact that he reportedly had his family with him makes it a bit surprising. Still, if you push the right buttons in someone’s psyche, they’re going to hit the ceiling.
Apparently for Cuomo, his button has the name, “Fredo,” on it. His interloper seems to have referred to him as Fredo. The troublemaker claimed he actually thought Cuomo’s name was Fredo, but I could not verify his beliefs on Snopes at this time. Cuomo took umbrage at the man’s name for him and loosed a highly bleeped rant in his direction.
One of the things he told the heckler was that the term, Fredo, was an insult to Italian-Americans. He equated it with calling a black man the n-word. Being of Italian descent myself, I was a tad surprised to hear this. Growing up, I heard my fair share of insults, but Fredo was never one of them. Dago, WOP, and Guinea were the preferred offenses in my day. WOP meant without papers. The other two are a tad vaguer. Still, they were used as pejoratives.
Apparently, we were also called goombas. I never found that term to be at all distasteful, but I guess it’s all in the ear of the beholder (or the insulter). In fact, there’s a winery down the road from me with the moniker, Quattro Goombas. I haven’t found the need to boycott or protest as yet. Truth be told, I’ve frequented their establishment on a couple of occasions. After all, goomba actually means “mate” (or sometimes, godfather). We’ve always referred to each other as goomba, so I’ve considered that to be a good thing my entire life.
That brings us back to Fredo. The term, Fredo, didn’t become popular until the movie, Godfather: Part 2. Fredo was the brother of Michael (Robert DeNiro) and was a general screwup. The long and short of it is simply that Fredo is not a racial slur as Cuomo insisted. It IS, however, a personal insult. Interestingly enough, it’s one that Chris Cuomo has used to label himself in the past. As we all know, however, it’s one thing to be self-deprecating and quite another to be the butt of someone else’s barbs.
Since the incident, people have been playing clips of various celebrities hurling the insulting, Fredo, in the direction of other people they held in lesser regard. While I’m not overly impressed with Cuomo’s unchained reaction, it’s certainly understandable. From now on, please refrain from calling me Fredo.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]