A good friend of mine posted this on St. Patrick’s Day this week. It was so well thought out and eloquent in his understanding of his heritage and how that plays into our own American narrative that I begged him to let me post it on my blog. Thankfully he agreed. Here’s what the giant Irisshman had to say.
So you want me to celebrate my Irish heritage today? Alrighty then.
The people I came from, into the last century, faced bigotry, discrimination and systematic, orchestrated poverty. Just like a lot of minorities do in this country today. My ancestors came here to try to work for a living. They were called “dirty” and “lazy,” had “good, decent Americans” work very hard to bar them from working, even though they loved exploiting them for the dirty, low and dangerous jobs they’d never want for their own children. Just like a lot of immigrants, especially Hispanic ones, in this country today. They valued family, community, faith and hard work; just like a lot of minorities in this country today. They fled a system of oppression by another country who invaded them, kept them down through military & economic oppression, and made things so horrible, many of them had to leave their homelands, never to return.
So when I hear you say you’re going to celebrate today, yet lambast a man for having “anti-colonial sentiments?” I have to ask if you even know anything about the Ulsteristrs. Or how what happened where innocent civilians were killed in places like Belfast, was any different than massacres in places like Amritsar. My family – the Mungers, the Leonards, the Guerins – were a people who valued dignity and a certain stoicism. My heritage is more than putting green food coloring in Budweiser, which isn’t really a culture, so much as shitty beer. I know who I am, who I come from, and I pay attention to how those not different from us are treated. Erin go bragh.
Also, if we’re to be completely honest about Ireland? A theocracy that kept things like the Magdaline Laundries going well into the 1990s? That caused a pregnant tourist to die in one of its hospitals rather than perform an abortion to save the life of the mother a couple years ago? And that outlaws homosexuality or heterosexual fellatio? I know where my people are from. But some of the misery back there, is their own doing.