St. Patrick’s Day Meets Political Correctness
St. Patrick’s Day Meets Political Correctness
This Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone is Irish for the day. We’ll wear green, drink beer, play our Irish music playlists, and maybe go to a parade. ‘Tis a grand day for us all, even if we have little or no Irish in our heritage. Everyone loves St. Patrick’s Day! Best of all, no one cares about political correctness.
But of course there’s always got to be that turd in the punchbowl — or should I say, the Guinness? This year’s contribution comes courtesy of David McGrath, a professor emeritus from the College of DuPage near Chicago. He wrote a column for the Chicago Tribune in which he tells us “Why this Irishman does not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.”
Yep, every party has its pooper.
Chicago is a big St. Patrick’s Day town. The city offers three parades this year, and will once again dye the Chicago River green in honor of the day.
But Mr. McGrath, despite his Irish surname, will not be celebrating. That’s because when he was a little boy his Polish grandparents triggered his political correctness gene.
McGrath wrote that when he was 13, his mother sent him to his grandparents’ home on an errand. When he arrived, he found they had a visitor — a distant relative from Lithuania. After the visitor left, McGrath’s grandparents asked him if he knew the man was a “Lugan.”
Now I kind of smiled at that. Growing up, I heard my mother use the word “Lugan” as a term for Lithuanians. Her parents were ethnic Germans from Lithuania who immigrated in the early 1900’s, met and married in Chicago, and then moved to Gary, IN, where both my parents grew up. Gary was like its bigger, older brother Chicago — stocked with immigrants from eastern Europe, all there to work in the steel mills.
So needless to say, they knew lots of “Lugans” (including the Lithuanian husbands of my grandfather’s sisters), and Italians, Greeks, Serbs, and many others. Each group, of course, stuck together until time passed and their children assimilated into the great American pot. And each group carried its nicknames, and its stereotypes, too. Those days, however, are gone. I’m pretty sure that not many Americans could even find Lithuania on a map of Europe (hint: it’s on the Baltic Sea, northeast of Poland and west of Belarus).
But the memory of that day is seared into David McGrath’s politically correct conscience. He wrote:
“My grandparents were wonderful and generous people. But their upbringing and acute awareness of the lines of demarcation between neighborhoods of first-generation immigrants may have influenced them to judge individuals based on their origins. Stereotypical characterizations of Lithuanians or Greeks would be extrapolated onto every individual of the same tribe, even someone they met for the very first time.”
He also told his children that this is why he doesn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And then he preaches to the rest of us unwashed folks:
“But too often I’ve seen obsessive preoccupation with ethnic origins translate into illusions of ethnic preference or superiority. . .”
You mean like Elizabeth Warren and her “Cherokee grandmother?” Oh, wait. . .
But McGrath doesn’t want to spoil St. Patrick’s Day for everyone else:
“On St. Patrick’s Day, I don’t wish to be a spoilsport. Yes to green beer and bagpipes wailing!”
No, he doesn’t want to spoil your day. He just wants you to know that he’s better than you because he’s woke and you’re not.
Then he proposes that cities promote an “All Ethnic St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” or “mosaic” celebrations with children wearing all the colors that represent their heritage.
Are you hearing a bunch of ’80’s rockers belting out “We Are the World”?
Yeah, that kind of stuff is already happening naturally. Not only do we have St. Patrick’s Day, but many places also celebrate Oktoberfest. And come May 5, lots of people will be putting back a few Cervezas in honor of Cinco de Mayo.
Because we Americans, for all our political strife, love any excuse for a party. And we’ll drink the beer and play the music and eat the food that originates from all sorts of ethnicities. Because we truly are that melting pot.
As for me, I’ll wear my green on Sunday, especially since in researching my genealogy I found that on my dad’s side there was an Irishman. He was my great-great-great grandfather, his name was Moses Finley, and he emigrated from Ireland in the early 1800’s. Which makes me more Irish than Elizabeth Warren is Native American. But who cares? St. Patrick’s Day is a good day for all of us to kick back, become Irish for the day, and forget about political correctness.
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