March 18, 2017

Irish myth — Northeastern urban mudsills?

Why can't some Irish-Americans honor the spirt
of reconciliation behind the center bar of the flag
of the Republic of Ireland?
A very interesting piece here at Pando about Irish history from John Dolan, who also does The War Nerd podcasts.

Let's dig into the headline of this post more.

First, there's a historic error related to the Battle of the Boyne. It was the Union, not Confederates, that named Civil War battles after rivers. You won't find Douglas Southall Freeman talking about "Bull Run"; it's "Manassas" for him. Now whether that's an accidental error or a deliberate one, I don't know. But, I find it "interesting" that a person who self-identifies as "The War Nerd" would make such a mistake, if mistake it is.

Because, from there, he talks about "The Twelfth," namely the Protestant gloating, and worse, the day after the Boyne, on the 12th of July, and how that became an Ulster tradition that carried into the New World.

Now, back to the Civil War and full circle to tie to that bit of history.

You know what started a day after 'The Twelfth"? The New York City draft riots, which ran July 13-16, 1863. And largely involved Irish. And, besides them attacking Protestant churches (understandable) also included terrorizing and lynching blacks. At least 120 were killed, probably well more than that. Lincoln had to recall troops from the field, fresh from Gettysburg, to help suppress the riot.

Hence, my "mudsills" reference.

Something I've blogged about before, in fact, more than once, in reference to Trump's election.

Anyway, from there, Dolan talks about 1870s Irish-Ulsterman turf wars in New York. This goes merrily on without note of how the Irish "turf warred" blacks out of New York City and into Brooklyn in the aftermath of the draft riots. (Per Wiki's link on The Twelfth, there's little evidence it was regularly celebrated in the US as it was in Ireland — and Wiki specifically mentions Canadian celebrations.

Dolan does mention the draft riot in passing. He doesn't note the date connection, nor whether Ulsterman celebrated The Twelfth in style the day before. Nor does he note that, per Wiki's link on the riots, nearly 25 percent of New York City's 1860 population was German-born. A fair chunk of Germans were Catholics, too, though not normally tormented by north German Protestants.

Anyway, he talks one place earlier, before his brief mention of the riot, about Irish-American "versus" African-American:
But in America, the economics of cotton planting made Africans the more significant, “visible” and persecutable, minority, victims of choice for a predominantly pale-skinned polity. So, to their own surprise, the Irish were allowed to pass, after a few miserable generations as America’s lumpenproletariat, into the blur of middle-class America. And when they did, all the horrors that came before were dissolved in America’s huge shark stomach, one of those shark bellies of urban legend that when opened contains only a trace of what fed the animal—a boot, a bone, a set of keys to a tenement apartment in Jersey City. America has digested the Irish so thoroughly it thinks they’re cute, if a little slow.
A problem here.

The Irish didn't try to move to the South. And slavery existed only in Southern states at the time of the Famine. And, it was more native-born whites who worked in New England's pre-war textile mills. 


(Speaking of, it's funny that they're taking a similar attitude as those of the very same Ulsterman Scotch-Irish in the South who called them "white Negros," which in turn gave them two mudsills below them — the Irish, and the actual Negros of African-Americans.)

Back in Ireland, the Great Famine was a horrible tragedy. Holocaust? I think not, and I don't reserve that word just for the Jewish Holocaust; I have no problem calling the Ottoman Empire's actions against Armenians a holocaust. Given that, among other things, Catholic emancipation's major legislation had been passed by 1829 and that lesser degrees of potato blight hit the Scottish Highlands as well as elsewhere in Europe, the idea that Englishman were committing genocide? Tosh.

Some of this almost — almost, not totally — comes off like Serbs still lamenting Kosovo, which was a full 300 years before the Boyne.

Mudsills? You make the call.

Besides, Dolan and others of his ilk — probably mainly Irish-Americans trying to be more Irish than those in Dublin, need to move on. Per David Rieff, too much remembrance is a bad thing. Besides, the flag of the Republic has the orange of Ulster as well as the green of Erin in it — and deliberately so.

No comments: