Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Everyone needs someone to look down on

An excerpt from this observation from Joan Walsh.

It troubles me beyond reason that the face of the white GOP backlash is so frequently Irish Catholic: O’Reilly, Hannity, Pat Buchanan. Reading Kelly’s book again reminded me that everything racists say about African Americans was once said about my own people, and in the famine at least, with a deadly outcome.

To justify shutting down aid mid-famine, the London Times editorialized that it was to help the poor Irish themselves. “Alas, the Irish peasant has tasted of famine and found it good…the deity of his faith was the government…it was a religion that holds ‘Man shall not labor by the sweat of his brow.” Sounds like Bill O’Reilly, only more clever. “There are times when harshness is the greatest humanity.” The Times’ “chief proprietor,” John Walter, put it more crudely. The Irish were no more ready for self-government than “the blacks,” he said in Parliament (he was also a Tory MP).  ”The blacks have a proverb,” he explained. “‘If a nigger were not a nigger, the Irishman would be a nigger.’”

I am neither Irish nor Catholic.The contempt of Irish immigrants in the New World was well-played satirically by Daniel Day-Lewis in "Gangs of New York". (He's in another film currently where his character demonstrates a great deal more tolerance toward a different tribe of people.) Walsh's point is that history -- like science and logic and common sense -- is still lost on the right-wing and their bloviators.

We need conservatives to hurry up and begin to understand what's true and what's fiction. And that's about the kindest way that it can be said.

1 comment:

Demeur said...

From a U.S. standpoint it was a right of passage. Let me see. We had chinese coolie labor who built the railroads. The Irish as you point out. Then there were the Germans. The jews from after WWII. Koreans after that war. Vietnamese after Vietnam. Russians after that fall.Today we have Mexicans from their economic plight along with east Africans from their struggles. Has anything really changed?
The conservatives will do well to understand that this is no longer a nation made up of mainly right handed old white guys. Pander to your shrinking base at your own peril.