This is addressed to a small, but growing subset of our population.
In the following paragraphs, I will state several facts. They won’t be arguable. Every literate person who reads these facts will know they are true. But these facts will tug at the silly emotionalism too many have chosen to cloak their lives in. These facts will stand athwart the nonsense cultural con men have been hawking for decades.
With a little luck, I will convince a few people to revive their sense of dignity and REAL self-respect and turn away from the childish thinking that keeps them from reaching their full potential and divides our people.
Fact 1: I am NOT Irish.
Throughout my childhood there was a myth about “pride” and “heritage” that was foisted on every kid I knew. It was the myth that we were “Irish” or “Italian” or whatever other label people decided to hold over from the old country.
Yes it is true, that by accident of birth, and by no other machination, I have DNA similar to that of people who immigrated to the U.S. four generations before. In my case, the big celebration of this accident was Saint Patrick’s Day. We would be regaled with the myth surrounding this character and we were supposed to be filled with “pride” in our “heritage”.
Pride? Heritage? Really?
Dismissing the banishment of snakes for the nonsense that it is, what was it about Patrick and my Irish-ness I was supposed to be proud of? What actions were taken five generations before and earlier that I was supposed to feel somehow “proud” of. I wasn’t there.
However my ancestors chose to survive the famine, I didn’t participate. In parts of our extended family were people who were part of the IRA. We were supposed to be somehow proud of that. Leave aside the twisted animals the IRA would eventually become, how was I supposed to be “proud” of a struggle with which I had taken no part?
And from whence comes my heritage? It damn sure isn’t from Ireland! The ONLY tangible heritage that contributed what I would become is what my parents and grandparents provided. And except for the silly green hats and “Kiss me! I’m Irish!” badges I’d see once a year, that heritage was pure American.
But oh, I was told, think of the brave souls that fled the famine and came here to start a new life!
Brave? Well, I’ll grant you, the first man to pull a black spud from the ground to say, “Uh-oh. There’s something wrong here,” who packed his kit and got out of dodge, could be called brave or visionary.
But when the staple crop of Ireland failed catastrophically, millions of Irishmen did what every other culture had done before them. They left. They moved en masse searching for a place to survive. It would have been far braver, some thought fool-hearty, to have stayed on and figured out a fix than to have left a lifetime of work and run.
I’m not saying those who did leave did the wrong thing. But when you follow the herd, for whatever reason, you are not standing out as brave. In this case, people were doing what simply had to be done as they saw it. That they didn’t do it in small numbers kind of tarnishes the “brave” label.
Having settled in Philadelphia, the first generation of my family born here went of to war. Two that I know of, Matthew Jordan and George Platt both fought for the Union at Fredericksburg, among other places. They didn’t do that because they were Irish. They did it because they were American. No matter your feelings about the Civil War (or any war), you can’t get around the fact that those who fought and died, mostly thought they were doing the right thing. But these two men were not fighting for Ireland.
Like all those who descended from other cultures, these men went on to build a life here. At the time, and in many ways today, that life is unique when set against the sweep of history. The life they built here was not an Irish life. It was an American life. The children they raised were American.
Some understood this and went on to do great things. They made prosperous lives for themselves. Others bought into the sorry groupthink that pervaded places like Boston and thought (stupidly) that their lives were somehow made better by the political vultures that fed on cultural parochialism. All those people did was slow their own progress in this culture while enriching politicians who didn’t really give a damn about being Irish and didn’t care a lick for those that enriched them.
Still others fell in with the worst of elements. People with Irish surnames cannot claim the moral high ground here. The Irish mob is as much a blight on society as the Mafia, MS-13 and the Russian mob.
We may entertain ourselves and pat ourselves on the back for things with which we have no connection. But my family, like all American families, succeeded or failed by how they approached life in the United States – not Ireland or Russia or Africa or China – but here, in this reality.
I have been troubled by these thoughts because of a resurgence of racism in this country. Class envy is resurgent too. But I’ll deal with that in another post.
I went from pre-adolescence to adulthood in a world where everyone with the least sense of dignity looked at racial identity as a punch line at best and a cancer at worst. Comedians rightfully portrayed the mouth-breathing White racist AND the stereotype, outdated Black Panther wannabes with equal amusement.
But in the last two decades, as the Sixties crowd moved into power, I’ve seen this trend reversed. We are now seeing those who feed off of class and ethnic identity gain an undeserved voice. We’ve replaced real progress with emotionalist stupidity.
In St. Louis last night (9/15/17) we saw people who are told (or decided) they must stand shoulder to shoulder with a heroine dealer who tried to run over two cops because they have a similar skin color. Sadly, many people either believe it or pretend to believe it.
Whatever the specifics of the final encounter this criminal had with police were, we only have the legal record to figure out. But the man himself isn’t worthy of the least consideration. He certainly isn’t worthy of being raised on a pedestal. He isn’t worth societal division.
But there are those who will tell you that he is. They thrive on it. They’ve grown rich, like those Irish politicians, convincing you that your first consideration must be the color of your skin, or a brogue, not what you need to do to thrive in society.
To my Black brothers and sisters who were born in this country, I submit facts number 2 and 3:
You are not African and you are not slaves.
I am not going to lecture you about what the word African means. Just take my story as an overlay and compare it to your family tree. Fact number 3 is self-evident. Neither you, your parents nor your grandparents were slaves. If you are not of a certain age, even your great grand parents were not slaves. You share no connection to that world unless you chose to study the history of it.
You can no more claim legitimate pain from slavery than I can from the Potato Famine and the Irish caste system.
To let people keep you from reaching your full potential because slavery existed 160 years ago, to base your world view on that, is an insult to every person who survived slavery and went on to make a life for themselves.
Too many Black Americans have gone on to greatness and dispelled these myths. That includes those who walk around in mansions, selling their music and talking about being oppressed. You can enjoy their music, but don’t buy the insult to your own intelligence that says they can make it but you can’t.
I liked Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, but I wouldn’t give a warm fart for his pathetic Scientology lunacy. And yes, that is the very same thing as believing Kanye has a point about being oppressed. He is living proof that in the US, oppression in a function of one’s own design. It is not an American reality.
The fact that people like those in the following paragraphs exist cannot oppress you unless you say it does.
To my white brother and sisters, I submit facts number four and five: We are not the super race. And there is no god of white people.
Waaaaay too many of you are drifting back to that moronic, 1950’s, jerkwater way of thinking.
Many of you are also being manipulated in the same way as all cultures have been from time to time. Many of you are unemployed or underemployed. You’ve allowed yourselves to be sucked into a pathetic narrative that says it is someone else’s fault. It’s not. If you are not happy with your lot in life, it’s your fault.
As for race? Hell, in the wider scheme of things, there is no individual race. Dr. David Duke (the title gets funnier every time I hear it) would tell you that a white guy is a white guy and everyone else is entirely different.
[Insert loud game show buzzer here.] Sorry. That just ain’t so. We now know what we call our “heritage” (there’s that word again) is thoroughly intermingled going back tens of thousands of years. Every single human being you look at every single day is a cousin, at some random distance removed. Give them a hug.
And as I said above, referring to culture vultures, many of you have enriched people like David Duke while virtually hiding from a full and happy life.
Do yourselves a favor. Relax. Let go of your self-imposed stupidity and join the rest of society. If you spent as much time and money becoming better human beings and gaining real knowledge as you did on your tattoos, and listening to people like Duke, you’d all be far better off than you are.
I would submit this one assumption: The only well-off, successful, mouth-breathing racist in this country is the one who has capitalized on your gullibility. He likely doesn’t really care about skin color. But it’s a good gig if you want money, easy fame and a credulous following.
Finally there is this irony.
Across the color spectrum, race baiters work in tandem. Each LOVES the fact that the other exists. Duke needs Sharpton and vice versa. La Raza needs the people who think everyone with a Spanish accent is an illegal. Each secretly prays that the other is kept safe and successful.
It’s the same as the zoo we have inside the Beltway. Phony conservatives need phony liberals need each other to be loud and strong. Neither has any intention of actually accomplishing anything. If they did, their power would wane. But this is an issue for a wider audience, isn’t it?
To the 80% of society (hopefully more) that doesn’t fall into the narrative of this essay, I say thank you for being you. Don’t be afraid to invite the others to participate in a normal life.