Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to share with you that a few years ago I discovered my direct lineal ancestors were from Ireland. Since discovering that I am Irish, I have enthusiastically embraced my cultural heritage.
And I will have to tell you that I am more than a little upset, in fact I might go so far as to say traumatized, that the University of Notre Dame uses the “Fighting Irish” as a mascot for their sports teams. The University’s use of a caricature of my people as this mascot obviously perpetrates the stereotype that we are a bunch of drunken brawlers.
I mean, just look at the image they use. It is a little Leprechaun-looking dude with a green suit (of course it had to be green) and a goofy haircut and beard. He is posed in a ridiculous pugilistic stance that could be interpreted to suggest that he is intoxicated. And, of course, there is a shamrock on his hat. How much more of stereotype can you have?
Every time I see a Notre Dame sporting event, I feel humiliated and demeaned by this ethnic stereotyping. It brings back painful memories of the “Irish Need Not Apply” signs my ancestors faced. I am considering therapy to deal with the trauma.
It also brings up painful memories of jokes told at our expense, like: “Do you know why God created whiskey? To keep the Irish from conquering the world.” Now that is just mean.
And for Norte Dame’s information, we Irish are actually known for many things other than getting drunk and brawling. We have a great literary tradition with the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift and James Joyce, among others. The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the outstanding art museums in the world. Irish folk music and folk dance has enjoyed a wide audience for centuries. Our music in particular has seen a vibrant revival with groups like Celtic Women. And of course, what would the world be without “Danny Boy.”
There may be some who think I am exaggerating the extent of discrimination against my people. But I will have you know that the Enquiry Committee of The European Parliament on Racism and Xenophobia, (I know you think I am making this up, it is actually a real group), found my people to among those most suffering from discrimination. I think it is an outrage that the U.S. Congress has not convened a similar committee to inquiry about discrimination against the Irish in this country. The leadership of Notre Dame should be dragged before such a committee and forced to explain their inexcusable demeaning of Irish heritage.
To combat this blatant ethnic insensitivity and to raise awareness of the discrimination Irish people face, I have formed a new non-profit, the Coalition to End the Use of Irish Discriminatory Mascots in America and Throughout the World, or the CEUISMATTW, for short. I am asking that every person of Irish descent in America (or those who feel guilty about having discriminated against an Irish person) to join me in this effort by agreeing to contribute just one dollar per week. The CEUISMATTW will use this money to pay me an appropriate salary to travel around the world speaking out on behalf of Irish people everywhere. Of course, with the demanding schedule this work will require, the CEUISMATTW will probably need to acquire its own private jet, so please give and give generously. The future of the Irish people everywhere depends on you!
Now, I know there are those of you that think that our nation has more pressing issues than Notre Dame’s use of an ethnically insensitive mascot. And sure, our country faces massive and growing deficits, poor academic performance by our students compared to those around the world, hundreds of thousands of homeless, millions who struggle with addiction and mental health issues, millions with no health insurance, the decline of our influence and prestige around the world and paralyzing partisan gridlock at home. But we cannot allow these types of transient issues to divert our attention from the truly serious problems like mascots that promote hibernophobia.
Allow me to now withdraw my tongue from my cheek and wish you all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Regular readers may recall that I wrote and posted this piece several years ago, but with the avalanche of cancel culture descending on us, it seemed particular apropos to refrain today.