While many of us like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. with green apparel and booze, it’s also super important to acknowledge the origins of the celebration: immigrants! With the future of over 800,000 Dreamers in jeopardy under the current administration’s policies, it’s only right to draw attention to the holiday an article from TIME calls
[…] the closest thing in America to National Immigrant Day, a tribute not only to the Irish, but to the idea that Americans are all part “other.”
SO, if you weren’t aware, the general consensus of nativist Americans in the 19th century was that the Irish (the first ‘modern’ immigrants in the U.S., as expanded upon in this NY Times article from 2012) behaved like this:
The political cartoon above is by Thomas Nast, y’know, the dude who created the modern-day depiction of a fat, red-suit-wearing Santa Claus? Yeah, same guy.
Here’s a continuation on that thought from my FB, (edited slightly for clarity):
- The celebration was brought to the United States by Irish immigrants in the 19th century.
- These immigrants (and others from ‘undesirable’ areas of Europe, such as Scotland, Germany, and Italy) were largely unwelcome in ‘white collar’ work forces, such as medicine, politics, law, et al.
- Many of these immigrants didn’t speak English, and would learn only after arriving in the U.S.A., including the Irish. (The English language was forced upon them for 800 years but was by no means universal in Ireland then, nor is it today.)
- Not all of these immigrants came legally; even today, a low estimate of illegal U.S. residency by white Europeans and Canadians is 550,000 according to the most recent figures from the Pew Research Center.
This brings us to the present, when people with Irish (and German, and Italian, and Scottish, and … ) surnames are trying to prevent immigrants (today, largely from South America, Central America, Africa, and the Middle East) from enjoying all the benefits and opportunities their ancestors received once anti-immigrant sentiments shifted southerly. Such is the (stupid) pattern of history. But not all is lost (it never is).
If we as a society can willingly get behind this look for a day
surely, we can get behind these amazing people!