A bad time for Irish in America


Hello Friends,

I am writing to you as both a warning and as a plea for help.

I am a 29y.o. Dublin native, living and working in New York for 2 years now, I have previously lived a number of years on the West Coast of the States.  I want to speak to you of the hostility I have found here recently, and the increasing xenophobic belligerence directed indiscriminately towards all non-nationals, yes, Irish included.  I want to speak to you as brothers and sisters of my homeland, as human beings with an equal right to life as my own.  I am not trying to make a broad political statement, I am positing a serious problem from across the water.

The September 11th attacks have left a deep scar on all Americans.  There is a lot of anger, many people are still confused, and misinformed, over the reasons for the attacks, and the subsequent wars.  Action was the best course for the administration, the first time anyways...  but the Iraq War has deeply divided this country, and the cynical mindframe is winning out while so many live in fear of dissent.  America is in trouble, and isolating itself more with its fierce attitude.  France is one well-known casualty in the current cultural-war, all things French are villified, even words, while a massive public boycott of French goods gains popularity, because of that country's opposition to the Iraq war.

Outside criticism is violently rejected in the US, just when it most needs some cooling foreign reason, an outside perspective- the American ability to absorb outside ideas, as well as people, has ended.  And this counts for the Irish too.

In the last year and a half, since voicing my opposition to the absurdity of another war, I have twice been threatened with my life and once with my job.  I am not an activist, I am a construction worker.  In each case I made formal complaints, and the one time a co-worker threatened to take me in the woods and shoot me, I reported him to the police.  I have also had my car vandalized and been challenged to a brawl by a gang of Marines when they heard my accent.  Though I do not see myself as a victim, I see a very big problem with, like I said, the nationalistic 'belligerence' which has exploded here unchecked.

News may have reached Ireland recently of the Chinese journalist beaten up by Homeland Security in Niagara Falls, or the two Indian med-school students in Buffalo sent so many death-threats they had to leave the country.  Recently, a Swiss girl I know was attacked at a party for bad-mouthing Bush.  My news for you is that such hostility has also been extended to the Irish community here...

As a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, I can affirm for you that my personal case is not unique, I have many Irish friends here who can also attest to the hardening attitudes.  Since coming back here, I have quit drinking- going to a bar, even in NY, requires having to listen to anti-Islamic polemics, and even suggestions of genocide- the prevalent drunktalk being of dumping nukes on all the Arab world- not quite the round-table literary pubchats I'm used to of home.  I have two Irish friends here who are bartenders, and they have learned to keep a stoic silence, and I can see in their faces that it is eating at them.  Being around so much hatred is eating at our souls, wrinkle-browed in our twenties.

Though the belief may be that there are strong cultural ties between Ireland and the US, the last two years have seen a huge divergence in worldviews, until almost polarized, and it is not merely an issue of administration, of who's in charge.  Though millions of Americans take pride in an Irish heritage, it does not mean that, as I have had said to me, our island may just as well be bombed flat once it outlives its usefullness as a stopover for the troops.  After the now-famous Bush interview on RTE two months ago, words were said to me at work the next day, to the extent that everyone felt the Irish interviewer (Carolan?) should be killed.

I understand also that there are many Irish people who believe Ireland should align itself 100% behind America, in or out of war regardless...  all I can say to these people is that, in reality, Americans don't give a shit about you, or Ireland, or it's sovereignty, or its unique freedoms.  As an Irish citizen in the US, I myself have been criticized for forcing Irish women to wear headscarves, for refusing them the right to vote, and for forcing child-labour in my country.  In Ireland, according to American thought, we are still tribal and undeveloped, we ride on the backs of cows and kill old people when they can no longer work in the fields.

Historians agree that the first sign of impending genocide is dehumanization of the enemy.  Hitler portrayed the Jews as serpents, Stalin, the Trotskyites as pigs, Saddam, the Kurds as dogs, LeopoldII the Central Africans as apes, Habyaramani, the Tutsi's as leeches, or vampires, and so on...  To me, it is apparent that all Americans see outsiders as barbarians, and it seems just a tenuous step downwards towards the animal world.  Often, in work and out of work, I am made feel more and more unwelcome and dehumanized as an immigrant to the US.  These are bad times for the Irish in America, and people are affraid to voice dissent- as I have been told, repeatedly, if I don't like it, to get the fuck out- but I don't back down so easily...

My plea is this.  It is important.  Our Irish links with the US are still strong... please, my friends, let's use them.  Find the number of your long lost uncle or cousin in New Jersey or Wyoming and call them for a chat, even if you've never spoken to them before.  Remind them that people in the outside world care about them, that we are human and that we share the same right to have a difference in opinion.  Let's let the cooler heads prevail.  Tell them to demonstrate an act of kindness and solidarity with the next foreigner they meet, no matter where that person is from, and find the beauty of human nature again to break the chain of fear and hating...

I would like to expand on this, and welcome any and all thoughts on this thread

yours in love,

bernie


Created By: bernie bird