FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Skip the Green Beer

 

Having grown up in the mostly Irish working-class St. Michael’s Parish in Flint, Michigan, I remember St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holy day. Every year, that son of the old sod, Monsignor Earl V. Sheridan would regal us with tales of St. Patrick and the Irish monks “saving civilization as we know it.”

I got the same story from my grandparents. They were the first to explain that “St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland” was code for “converting the Pagans.” Later on I found out it more likely meant ethnic cleansing of the indigenous pagans.

My classmates and I would wear green every year. Once, Tim Donlan and I died our hair green. It became a competition to prove who was “as Irish as Paddy’s pig.” We’d read about how Chicagoans would die the river green. Other places painted the yellow street lines green for the day. Seemingly all harmless fun and some quaint Catholic-centric history. Once a year, then over.

St. Patrick’s Day is still a once a year feel good about being Irish event. Some 34 million Americans claim some Irish ancestry. Like it is for other ethnic groups, such a holiday can be a bonding event. And, one that can lessen ethnic frictions that occur the rest of the year.

But, somewhere along the line, St. Paddy’s Day was hijacked by the alcohol industry. A few St. Patrick’s Days ago, I went out on the town in Portland with my buddy, Paul Delehanty, looking for an Irish pub where we could get some Corned Beef and Cabbage and otherwise revel in our Irishness.

We walked the downtown and came upon huge crowds of drunken revelers outside the pubs and eateries. Bagpipers droned their way from crowd to crowd. We never did get into any place, but we watched in fascination as the crowds got more and more rowdy.

Now St. Patrick’s Day is synonymous with such drunken reveling. Major alcohol suppliers advertise for days before. In a country where over 125,000 people die each year as the result of alcohol abuse, many from being the victims of drunken drivers, how can anyone get behind a holiday that has the primary purpose of getting smashed?

My Irish grandparents were teetotalers, having seen the turn of the last century’s toll from this state-sanctioned drug. They and quite a few others obviously, went overboard and backed Prohibition. I don’t drink – I never liked the effect. But, I’m not some priggish dolt who cares that others do. What I do care about is that my ethnicity is tarnished with never ending drinking-related jokes (year-around) and by the demeaning of what should be a once a year celebration of all good things Irish.

Please rethink this “holiday.” Stereotyping of any kind is always suspect.

MICHAEL DONNELLY can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

 

More articles by:

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail