The Lie: No, I don’t find that joke funny. I find it derogatory.
The Truth: I do find it derogatory, but I also find it funny. It’s tempting sometimes to tacitly approve some casual incidence of ethnically-flavored humor with a nod and a self-aware chuckle, as I can with my adult friends. However, I worry that my kids lack the sophistication necessary to avoid internalizing the uglier elements of any narrative, however pithy, that relies on stereotypical characterizations to get its point across. I’m not saying my kids are racially unsophisticated; I’m saying they’re unsophisticated in general. This is just one of the many ways in which their lack of sophistication interferes with my life.
At the end of the day, though, I think we can all agree that an Italian navy crew would probably experience all kinds of confusion if the lookout were to call out “it’s a mine, it’s a mine!” (Because, as my daughter gleefully pointed out, the likely response would be, “ok, you can a-have it.”) Unsophisticated or not, it’s nice to know that the girl inherited my weakness for shticky humor.