Sometimes the left is so predictable, it makes your teeth ache.
Okay then. It makes my teeth ache.
You see, some special critters last week were complaining about how celebrating Saint Patrick is cultural appropriation.
We’ll leave aside, for the time being, the fact that I’m not exactly sure who we’d be appropriating St. Patrick from. I mean, sure, he’s a Catholic saint, celebrated by … well, pretty much everyone in America, Catholic or not, Irish or not.
He is, I presume, celebrated in Ireland too, but from what I heard it’s a more subdued celebration, a religious one and certainly having nothing to do with pinching people for not wearing green and/or green beer.
The problem with the left is that they don’t understand America. Yes, I’m sure a lot of them were born and raised here, and the fact they understand America so poorly is the worst indictment of American education I’ve ever seen.
Because St. Patrick, as he’s celebrated is not cultural appropriation. He is an American Saint, in the sense we celebrate him, as much as a Catholic saint.
To understand this we need to go back to the history of Irish immigrants in America.
Even I – and on one side my husband is a third generation Irish Immigrant (on the paternal side on that side his ancestors go all the way to the revolution. The other side is oh, German, Scottish, Amerindian. In other words, my husband is also all American) – hadn’t fully grasped how bad things were for Irish immigrants in the beginning. I hadn’t fully grasped it until I was reading a history of Cleveland (I was an exchange student to Stow, Ohio) and found out that the procedure of the police when investigating any crimes in the early 20th century was “Find all the micks and the Italians, and interrogate them till they give up the culprit.”
The thing is, as my husband noted when I told him this “that it wasn’t wrong most of the time.” And, yeah, he’s right. At the turn of the century some of the criminals in these communities had histories that read like a demon’s resume.
But the Irish integrated. They worked, they worked at being American. They taught their kids to be American.
Oh, but they still celebrated St. Paddy. And St. Paddy became a point of pride. And the t-shirts with “Kiss me, I’m Irish” came out. Till eventually everyone wanted to join in the fun (and, let’s face it – hoists her bottle of stout in the general direction of the screen – the beer.) And because by then the Irish had become Americans, they said “Sure, why not? Everyone can celebrate St. Paddy’s with us. Everyone is Irish for a day.”
This was something totally alien to Europeans. When my – second generation Irish immigrant — history teacher during my exchange student year asked me what I was doing for St. Patrick’s, I told him I wasn’t Irish. He told me I looked like an Irish lass to him. (For the rest of the year he referred to me as his Irish lass and kept asking people if I didn’t look Irish to them. Turns out he wasn’t completely wrong. According to genetic report, there’s some Irish in there. Actually there’s some of almost everything. No wonder I like America.) And dang it, for St. Patrick’s day, the entire school (mostly German and Polish, judging by both looks and last names) was Irish. They wore shamrocks, and they dressed in green and they wished everyone a happy St. Patrick’s. It was in fact the most American thing ever.
Because we Americans are about nothing if not cultural appropriation.
We take what’s best about each group of incoming immigrants, and we shamelessly make it ours.
And groups like the Irish, once reviled and marginalized become central parts of the American story.
You know what’s needed for it, though? That they give up their tribalism. Which to be fair most Irishmen, and even most Italians have. Sure. They will still be very proud of their heritage, but when their kids marry outside it, they just pretend to think that there’s a bit of their heritage in the new spouse.
One of my school friends, who is – almost certainly – pure German, has become an Italian mom by this magic. And that’s fine, though it’s only in America.
I was thinking about this, when I read this article in the Atlantic. If you don’t want to lose brain cells by reading it, the gist of it is that Talar Ansari, probably second generation immigrant from some Arab country or other, looked at the shootings in New Zealand, and is sure that the “White Supremacists” are going to get him. And that white supremacists are a far greater terrorist threat than Islamic radicals.
(Will someone get my eyes? They rolled all the way under the sofa.)
Honestly… where to begin? Are there white supremacists in America? Sure. There’s 300 million of us. There’s people who believe all kinds of crazy things.
Are Muslims in danger of white supremacists?
Well, except for a minority of them, Muslims are white (and most Arab countries were allied with Hitler, btw.) They’re as white as I am (Latin is a cultural subgroup, not a racial one, though everyone forgets that.) We’re a member of the Mediterranean sub-race of the Caucasian race.
The prejudice against new immigrants has bloody nothing to do with race. See the prejudice against Irish and Italians.
And, note that I said above, some of it is logical and justified. Marginalized communities often harbor in their midst less than savory elements. Because those hide where people band together for tribal comfort. (See the science fiction fand-and-writer community and pedophiles.) Because users use people. And entire groups of people.
The problem I had with Talal Ansari’s view is that it was entirely tribal and entirely one-sided. He sees all these threats (real and imaginary. Look, if there were white supremacists under every rock in America it would have saved Jussie Smollet a lot of trouble.) against his people, his tribe, his community. He sees “islamophobia” everywhere.
But he doesn’t note when someone of his religion spreads anti-semitic “Jewish banker” conspiracies in the house of representatives. And he’s apparently blind to the very real reason that Americans have to fear Islamic terrorism.
To explain it to the blinkered Mr. Ansari: because people who claim to be of your religion want to kill us for being American. That was the crime of those who died in 9/11, and the ones who died in the Boston Marathon, and of those who have avoided death only because the would-be terrorists were caught in time.
Is it unfair that people – yeah, even me – cringe at a group speaking in Arabic in a public place? Sure it is.
It was also unfair that the way to investigate crimes in Cleveland at one time was “round up all the Micks and the Eyetalians.”
Was it permanent? Nope. Those people tried to be as American as they could, and, yes, called out their own bad elements, instead of talking about how oppressed their tribe was and holding on to their tribal specialness.
They went forth and raised their kids to be American, and married other brands of American, and shared the good things in their culture – food and drink, mostly. It’s always food and drink, but also devotion to family – while forgetting the ancestral hatreds of the places they’d left behind.
And eventually everyone became Irish for a day. And everyone faced with a vast quantity of pasta gestures encouragingly and says “Mangia, mangia.”
Because they’re American, the culture that takes the best of every culture in the world and forgets the worst, the evil things, the ancestral hatreds back there.
What Mr. Ansari needs is a shamrock. We won’t push the beer, if he’s keeping to his religion’s prohibitions on alcohol (Remember, Irish and Italians were also once a religious minority.) Saying top o’ the morning wouldn’t hurt either. Nor would wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick’s day. Or saying that for a day he’s descended from the O’Ansara’s.
Because Americans will accept anyone who makes an effort. (And, yes, steal their best recipes. Sorry, it’s who we are. It’s what we do.)
You’re in America now. You can hold on to all the crazy that made the place you or your ancestors came from a place to leave.
Or you can remember you’re an American first and say it with us “That Ilhan Omar. She’s such an idiot anti-semite.”
Then wish a Happy St. Patrick day to your Jewish co-worker, wear a shirt that says “kiss me, I’m Irish” and have a good time.
Top o’ the morning to you! Welcome to America.