by Patrick Appel

Bradford Plumer claims that organized crime has never made inroads in DC because it "never had a significant Italian-American populationprobably because it lacked the industrial base to lure immigrants in from Sicily and southern Italy." The bigger picture:

The historical causal chain here seems clear enough: Italian-American neighborhoods gave Mafia organizations a healthy pool of new recruits. But that’s not the full story. Mike Dash, the author of The First Family: Terror, Extortion, and the Birth of the American Mafia, argues that, contrary to the myth of the Godfather films, the Mafia didn’t get its start as a protector of Italians against other ethnic groups (notably the Irish). Instead, the Mafia was able to grow mainly by preying on Italian communities; police weren’t all that concerned with intra-ethnic crime.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.