In an uncharacteristically acidic post, NRB Kathy Shaidle turns her normally elegant and erudite pen to a gratuitous, baffling attack on the Irish. In response to NRB Blogger Michelle Horstman’s post celebrating the rise of Irish Immigrants from abject poverty and prejudice to complete integration and participation in American society, Kathy felt it was a great day to rain on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and pour the Irish a round of vitriol on tap:
“…the reason “nativists” hated these newcomers enough to burn down Catholic convents and call for mass Irish deportation was that, well, the Irish were for the most part uneducated drunken brawlers.”
Wow! How’s that for a generalization! 7.6 million Irish immigrated to America from Ireland between 1820 and the early 1900’s and most of them were ignorant drunks? I would love to see some serious scholarship to back that up.
Kathy explains that the nation of drunks did actually acquire an education:
“Fortunately, a tiny cadre of priests and nuns led laypeople to embrace education, (relative) civility and integration, hence the coast to coast network of parochial schools and St. Someone hospitals that were once the flower of American Catholicism.”
You really have to hand it to my people. A bunch of obscurantist priests and nuns schooled 7.6 million drunken thugs in their own private schools, 8, 000 of them at the most recent counting to be precise, and transformed them into human beings (not to mention doctors, professors, scientists, Priests, and even a President) in the space of two or three generations.
Kathy Shaidle is a true conservative and, upon close scrutiny, it appears that she might have simply overreacted to what she mistook for another self-pity party. Bemoaning ones past is, as Shaidle points out, a common social problem. People increasingly take advantage of having been persecuted or targeted by social discrimination to explain lack of success and justify demands for government subsidies and “equalizing” programs.
I think Kathy can put her sheleighly away and relax. The Irish are not known for being at the top of the whiners list in America. They may have suffered and like all romantics, poets and part-time melancholics, they certainly knew how to put that into song and verse, but it didn’t stop them from rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. No government quota programs were invented to guarantee places in schools, they just built their own…systems that is, entire primary, secondary and university, school systems, fully paid for without government subsidy, probably from money left over after the bar tabs were paid.
Kathy’s objection to the “mythical No Irish Need Apply” signs would have been better served by a through reading of the single source she cited. Professor Jensen, first denies the existence of the signs, then provides examples of them. She will be very happy to know that most Irish people couldn’t care less about them. Though my mother and paternal great-grandparents were among the millions of ignorant brawlers (sorry, Kathy, they were not drunkards,) to immigrate to this country, I only heard my mother speak of the “NINA” signs once or twice in my whole life. She didn’t have time to poison me with hatred of my fellow Americans for not hiring my Grandparents, she was too busy getting her nursing license so she could pay for me to go to an unsubsidized Catholic school and learn relative civility and integration.
The Irish who came to America were poor and did have to put in their time at the bottom of the social ladder. They worked and studied and served, and prayed their way out of the slums to every step up the ladder, in many cases right to the top. But, there is no “culture of victimhood” in vogue with the Irish, nor are they about to line up and ask for hand-outs. So, dear Kathy, please pour yourself a Guinness and join us all in what is left of this wonderful day.