We Should Be Told All the Mafia Facts
Yesterday's headlines posed a question vital to every citizen of the United States.
"Is the Mafia fact or fiction?" asked the black type.
The question was inspired by two opposing views.
One belonged to Alvin H. Goldstein Jr., described by newspaper stories as a former New York racket buster now probing crime in California.
The other belonged to Los Angeles Police Chief William H. Parker.
Mr. Goldstein, 32, was brought to California more than a year ago by Gov. Pat Brown when the latter was attorney general of the state. The young investigator was asked to survey criminal activities here.
His probe apparently led him to the conclusion that there is no Mafia in California.
And he said so.
In fact, declared Mr. Goldstein, people who say there is a Mafia may some day be charged with fabricating "the most colossal hoax ever thrust upon the American public."
A pretty strong statement.
And one to which Parker took immediate and violent exception.
The Mafia is real and it is here, the chief said for the hundredth time.
He accused Mr. Goldstein of being a Johnny-come-lately who has "a lot to learn."
In an effort to throw some additional light on the controversy, without subscribing to either Goldstein's or Parker's views, I talked to another man with an opinion.
A gentleman who has studied the Mafia problem for almost a quarter of a century. He is Santa Ana's police chief, Edward J. Allen. And he was reared in what he calls a Mafia stronghold in the eastern part of the nation.
"Where I grew up, everyone knew about the organization," Chief Allen told me.
"We all knew about Mafia killings, so it is always a surprise to me to hear people deny the Mafia's existence."
"In other words," I said, "you definitely believe it exists?"
"Sure it exists," he answered.
"In California?" I continued.
"Not to the extent that it does elsewhere," he explained. "Government in California is much cleaner and that is also true of law enforcement, which makes it tough for the Mafia to worm its way in."
"But the leaders are here," he added.
"They want to become respectable. That's why you see them moving into neighborhoods like Beverly Hills, for instance."
"It's to the shame of legitimate society that they do gain entry to the better areas. The Mafia contaminates everything it touches."
I asked Chief Allen about rumors that the Mafia is made up almost entirely of Americans of Sicilian birth or extraction.
"That's no rumor," he snapped. "That's fact. To attain top recognition within the group, you must be Sicilian."
"Then why," I continued, "do I hear names, obviously not Sicilian, mentioned as having Mafia connections?"
"That's easy," he answered. "They work with others. Use others.
"Oh, they'll accept financing from somebody else. But remember, although money talks, Mafia guns talk louder."
"Then you feel Goldstein was wrong in his appraisal of the Mafia's existence?" I asked the veteran law enforcement officer.
Let Us Examine the Record
"Absolutely," he said.
"Mr. Goldstein did the Mafia a great favor when he said it didn't exist. They'd like everyone to believe that."
I don't know. Maybe Goldstein is right when he says the Mafia is just a myth. But he was a trifle vague in explaining why he thinks so.
If he has facts to back his statement, I, for one, would like the hear them.