D.R.: Full of Irish lately
We’ve had lots of Irish in our lives lately. We caught the Young Dubliners at Mango’s Tuesday, then Seven Nations at Streetbeat Wednesday. A couple of weeks ago, it was Donal O’Kelly and Sorcha Fox at the Vilar presenting quite the innovative, thought-provoking play about escaped slave Fredrick Douglass steaming to Ireland.
So on St. Patrick’s Day, how can I resist thinking about this heritage. Yes, all of us are Irish today. But more than a few of us have Irish blood every day. Actually, we’d flood the home country many times over if everyone of Irish descent went home.
Long before nativist Americans hated the Mexicans, they hated the Irish. Maybe even more. Back when we were reviled, there was less of a cap on public discourse. Folks didn’t worry so much about being racist. And there wasn’t much ” or any, actually ” separation between “illegal” and “legal” in the attitudes toward immigrants. The nativist overtly hated all of it.
Now they pretend to appreciate legal immigration while decrying illegal immigration. And you hear this “love the Mexican people” crap while acting in ways contrary to that.
There was no pretense among this type of “loving” the Irish. They hated us. They demonized us. They denied us.
We weren’t entirely so great, either. We even rioted in New York over being drafted to fight the Yanks’ war against their own people in the south. The shia and sunni have nothing on the Union and Confederacy for wholesale killing.
A battalion of Irish soldiers switched sides in battle during the Mexican-American War. You won’t find many who will switch to the side that will obviously lose too often. But these soldiers were angry enough at their treatment by U.S. officers that they did, at the cost of their lives.
Give the Irish points for principle and courage, if not for intelligence.
Then they took over the Irish way. They breeded like rabbits, infected the blood line and in no time were fully American. Sadly enough, some of ’em went nativist just like the hateful folks who wanted to lock them out of America.
But I look at the Irish by how they welcomed Fredrick Douglass to Ireland. With open arms, crowds, parades.
The Irish, perhaps more than other peoples, given their history, have always had a keen sense of justice. Not some dopey fealty to the law as written, but in knowing the difference between what might be written into the law and what is is right.
So I romantize this part of my bloodline. And what the hell. Today’s St. Pat’s.