Proud to be Irish

Top of the morning to you all! Last week we celebrated St. Patrick’s day, a day when we are all Irish. Well, not all. I do know a few friends who refuse to be Irish even for a day, but I forgive them. Everyone is entitled to a quirk or two.

Growing up I can’t remember my mother, who was the child of first and second generation parents, really admitting to being Irish except on March 17th. On March 17th, however, for a day the radio was tuned to Irish music. We sometimes went to Mass downtown at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C. We wore the green. But just for one day. I once was asking about my heritage and my mother told me we were American. Which, of course, we were and proudly so.

As I ponder the current political rhetoric spewing from the mouth of some of our presidential hopefuls of hatred, divisiveness, unfounded fear of other nationalities and religions, I consider why my mother didn’t discuss being Irish.

She was old enough to remember the time when the Irish were discriminated against. They were unfairly labeled as lazy, criminal, violent, and alcoholic – what ever came to mind. Who knows why. Prejudice and bigotry have no basis in fact. It certainly couldn’t have been color because, Lord knows, you really can’t get much paler than the Irish.

The prejudice that lives within us is to my mind simply stunning. I am at a loss as to how we, as a country founded by immigrants are so quick to condemn others for what – looking different, praying differently, not assimilating as quickly as we think they should. Quite honestly, exactly how did the English assimilate? I don’t notice any of us speaking a Native American tongue. What are these people afraid of – a different language, religion, skin color – what is the fear?

I try not to get political. It’s not a great way to sell books, but sometimes I just have to say what I feel. I love my Irish and English heritage as much as, I would assume, people love being Hispanic, Iranian, French, Kenyan, or Japanese. We are, after all, just people with families we love, heritages we’re proud of, looking for a better tomorrow.

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