Despite internment camps during World War II, decades of stereotyping and even lynchings, my grandfather’s generation never lost its belief that America was the greatest place on Earth.
Their zeal was inspired by Philip Mazzei, an olive grower from Tuscany who immigrated to 18th-century Virginia. Mazzei became friends with Thomas Jefferson and, as the story goes, helped the Founding Father construct the passage “all men are created equal.”
Today, as Davide Tidona tells it, that conviction in the Declaration of Independence vanished in the fear-mongering aftermath of Sept. 11.
“It just seems that America is now against everybody who isn’t already an American,” says Tidona, proprietor of the Ibl@Cafe in the village of Ragusa Ibla.