For those of us with a sense of history, we know the Irish were second class citizens here in the States for a period of time. English mismanagement of the island (OK, mismanagement may be too tame a word for The Great Famine) fueled the Irish surge to the New World. They were not welcome here.
You may say That was then. This is now. How is that relevant?
I live in the Boston area. There are many fellow Bay Staters who claim Irish descent. They seem to come in a few broad categories:
- I’m Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day.
- I’m Irish-American.
- I’m American.
- Christ, I hate immigrants.
The last one is a joke. Kinda. Sorta. It’s only human nature to enshrine one’s own immigration history while looking at newcomers and thinking What the hell are you doing here?
USA Today published Detroit pub refused to serve Irish people at St. Patrick’s Day Parade — to make a point on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a tale of a prank with a heart of gold.
DETROIT — The bouncer who called Irish people “lazy” and “lower-class citizens” last weekend at the door of a pub on the bustling parade route of Detroit’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade ignited more than a few tempers.
I just want to point out if the same bit was done in Boston, it would’ve ended in tears and a few trips to the emergency room at Mass General Hospital.
It was all part of an experiment to raise awareness about how poorly Irish immigrants were once treated in the U.S. against the backdrop of prominent modern-day conversations about race and immigration.
The brave bouncer/prankster used bigoted language many ‘real ‘Mericans’ of the 19th century bantered about. It’s eerily reminiscent of how the Trump crowd refers to Mexicans.
Century-old newspaper articles that described Irish immigrants as “simians,” “too lazy to work” and members of “a servant race” helped fuel bouncer Bill Johns’ language as he sat outside the pub, telling people they couldn’t come in.
Yup, the man went out of his way to tell the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day they weren’t wanted. And why.
Take a look at the video.
There must have been some mental gymnastics going on in a few minds. You know, special pleading. Irish immigration was different. Mexicans are animals.
In defense of the Irish in America, I’m sure there are many Mexican-Americans thinking the same thing about Muslim immigrants.
Andrew Hall is the author of Laughing in Disbelief. Besides writing a blog, co-hosting the Naked Diner, he wrote two books, Vampires, Lovers, and Other Strangers and God’s Diary: January 2017 . Andrew is reading through the Bible and making videos about his journey on YouTube. He is a talented stand-up comedian. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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