Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day, hypocrites

“This would be a grand land if only every Irishman would kill a Negro, and be hanged for it. I find this sentiment generally approved, sometimes with the qualification that they want Irish and Negroes for servants, not being able to get any other.” — Edward Freeman, British historian writing on his return from America, circa 1881

TODAY is Saint Patrick's Day in the United States. Since it falls on a Friday, it will be a full three days of revelry. There will be parades and parties all across the country, green beer will flow freely in bars and pubs everywhere, Chicago will dye its river green and half of everyone out and about will wear green, cuz' ya' know, everyone is Irish on St. Patty's Day

(Except, as Paul reminds me . . . Scots, who are ALWAYS only and ever Scottish!  "If it's not Scottish, it's crap.")

All this (temporary) Irishness, despite the fact that according to The Washington Post, only 11.1 % of Americans actually have Irish ancestry. 

I'm glad when any culture or ethnicity celebrates its roots, and having some amount of Irish in my lineage, I feel at least a little entitled to pay tribute. Nevertheless, this holiday never fails to remind me of what an ignorant bunch of hypocrites, in general, the US citizenry is, at least the 46.1% who voted for he-who-shall-not-be-named and anyone else who is vehemently, hatefully, punishingly anti-immigration. 

This epidemic of hate currently directed at Mexicans and people from Islamic-majority countries, is nothing new to us. America has a grand old tradition of despising immigrants including the Irish. (And don't even get me started on British cruelty to their Irish brethren. The Brits got the whole ball rolling in a big way.)

To all of you wearing green and swilling green beer, here's a little reminder of how we treated our now beloved Irish . . . who we claim to be this weekend . . . when they came to this country.

FYI: This is not the first time I've written on this subject. (See Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Wall.)

Below is most of a piece, reorganized for clarity, from XpatNation.  I hadn't heard of this e-zine either, so here's what they have to say about their mission:

"The United States of America truly is a nation of immigrants, internationals and expatriates. From all over the world people have come to work, settle, find love and the pursuit of happiness. This is not a new phenomenon, but one that has characterized the United States since before its inception. Founded as a place for economic, political and religious refuge, America has prospered, and so too have many lost or ambitious souls looking to make a new life in the new world.

XpatNation is a social news and lifestyle magazine, focusing on the insights and experiences of ex-patriots living in the United States. We bring together the voices, thoughts, perceptions and experiences of the people of the world who have made the USA their home. Using their insight and unique understanding of the global world we live in to discuss culture, lifestyle, geo-politics and day-to-day life of this proud and powerful nation."

The Courageous Irish Community: Bearing The Hatred Of A Racist America

By Jason Muturi 

December 4, 2015 

Irish-American people faced much prejudice, racism and discrimination after their immigration to the United States because they were poor, uneducated, less skilled, considered disruptive and were Catholics in a land of Protestant dominance.

With anti-Irish attitude dominating most of the British-American states in the 17th century, most colonies enacted laws that barred Irish immigrants from new entry into America. Maryland's legislature passed a law placing a tax of twenty shillings on Irish servants. South Carolina enacted legislation that forbade entry of the Irish altogether, while Pennsylvania adopted a law that taxed the importation of Irish servants. The laws served to either bar entry or deprive the Irish of employment opportunities their counterpart established-immigrants had. 

American political cartoon by Thomas Nast titled "The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things",
depicting a drunken Irishman lighting a powder keg and swinging a bottle.
Published September 2, 1871 in Harper's Weekly.

Irish men were branded as lazy drunkards. Irish women were stereotyped as primitive, reckless ‘‘breeders’’ due to their large family sizes compared to those of Protestants. American Protestants were afraid that high birth rates of Catholics combined with 
Irish political takeovers would ultimately result in a Protestant minority and Catholicism becoming the dominant faith. The press derided Irish immigrants as aliens who were undisputedly loyal to their Catholic leaders instead of having allegiance to America and published degrading, hate-mongering cartoons. 

Irish-Americans were subjected to humiliating job discrimination. Desperate for employment, they were willing to work for lower wages and soon filled most of the unskilled and manual labor jobs. Local employers considered the immigrants disposable labor, often using them to perform hazardous tasks. With major employers preferring Irish immigrant workers for their willingness to do the worst work for the least pay, a rivalry ensued between Irish immigrants and Americans.

Signs appeared in business and home windows proclaiming variations of "Help Wanted But No Irish Need Apply.’’ NINA (No Irish Need Apply) slogans were published in local papers with images of Irish women searching for domestic jobs, and a NINA song was written to further denigrate them.

Groups of Protestants burned down a Catholic convent in Boston. In Philadelphia mobs of Protestants rioted against Irish Catholics. At some point, the Irish organized and fought back in a war that lasted three years. Catholic churches were burned, there was massive destruction of Irish immigrant homes and property, and many Irish-Americans died. 

Me again: So when you raise a glass of whiskey or mug of beer to the Irish or put on your green tie or sweater, think about what you can do in opposition to the current torrent of anti-immigration hate. You'd think we'd learn.

1 comment:

  1. We do seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. I really believe that much of the hatred is driven by the leaders using fear as the powerful tool that it is. Doing so is evil and disruptive but hatred and fear distract us nicely from the other evil being done 'behind the curtain'.