Today’s new word is: Omerta’
Let’s learn: Omerta’
The origin of the word is traced (by the OED) to the Spanish word hombredad, meaning manliness, modified after the Sicilian word omu for man. According to a different theory, the word comes from Latin humilitas (humility), which became umirtà and then finally omertà in some southern Italian dialects.
Omertà is a code of silence, according to one of the first Mafia researchers Antonio Cutrera, a former officer of public security, that seals lips of men even in their own defense and even when the accused is innocent of charged crimes. Cutrera quoted a native saying first uttered (so goes the legend) by a wounded man to his assailant: “If I live, I’ll kill you. If I die, I forgive you”.
The basic principle of omertà is that it is not “manly” to seek the aid of legally constituted authorities in order to settle personal grievances. The suspicion of being a cascittuni (an informant) constituted the blackest mark against manhood, according to Cutrera. Each wronged individual had the obligation of looking out for his own interests by either avenging himself, or finding a patron—but not the state—who will see to it that the job is done.
Omertà is an extreme form of loyalty and solidarity in the face of authority. One of its absolute tenets is that it is deeply demeaning and shameful to betray even one’s deadliest enemy to the authorities. For this reason, many Mafia-related crimes go unsolved for decades. Observers of the Mafia debate whether omertà should best be understood as an expression of social consensus surrounding the Mafia or whether it is instead a pragmatic response based primarily on fear, as implied by a popular Sicilian proverb Cu è surdu, orbu e taci, campa cent’anni ‘mpaci (“He who is deaf, blind, and silent will live a hundred years in peace”).
The Italian-American mafioso Joe Valachi famously broke the omertà code when in 1963 he publicly spoke out about the existence of the Mafia and testified before the United States Congress. In Sicily, the phenomenon of pentito (Italian he who has repented) broke omertà.
Among the most famous Mafia pentiti is Tommaso Buscetta, the first important state witness who helped Judge Giovanni Falcone to understand the inner workings of Cosa Nostra and described the Sicilian Mafia Commission or Cupola, the leadership of the Sicilian Mafia.
Let’s use it in a sentence, ie: “Venture Capitalists and Some Senators practice an Omerta’ regarding disclosures about the car money scam”
As Steve Kroft said on 60 Minutes: “The mafia charges 18%” on loan scams. For the car loan scam, the bundlers, Venture Capitalists, Sachs and the rest of the insiders charged 20% to 54% “finders fees”, “helper fees”, Kickbacks and took it off the top right out of your tax dollars. Even though the car company may have gone broke; John Doerr, and the investment banks grabbed their cash first and took off (after giving part of it back to the Senators that rigged the deal for them in hidden PAC “donations”)
See More on 60 Minutes online:
Washington’s open secret: Profitable PACs, Episode First Airs: October 20, 2013
and stay tuned for follow-up story in a few months.
Andrew G- CBS