My friend Cait Quinn posted this last weekend. I’ve been friends with several Irish bands over the years, and as such, I really appreciated it. I asked her for permission to share it as a guest post. Keep this in mind as you plan your weekend festivities. I’ll just add that, not only are you not part of the Irish Republican Army, but (unless you’re part of a local indigenous group) the people around you aren’t the occupation either. If you’re feeling oppressed, go get involved in politics.
So I’m going to engage in my St. Patrick’s Day rant a little early. Sorry, I’ve just had it. Celebrating the Irish culture by drinking and acting like a total barbarian is choosing to behave in the exact manner of the Irish stereotype. It is a stereotype that is not all in good fun, it is not irreverent and harmless it is the caricature that was used for hundreds of years to justify occupation, forced labor, deportation and restrictions on the Irish people’s rights and autonomy. It fueled the hatred of the Irish in America, legalized and normalized the British government’s continued occupation of the Irish people both in Ireland and in other British colonies. It was even used to justify slaver and murder. Oliver Cromwell killed over 200,000 Irish civilians by painting them as a dangerous, barbarous people.
So getting drunk and acting like a train wreck on St. Patrick’s day helps to perpetuate that very harmful narrative that to be Irish means that you drink and act like an ignorant fool. That you damage property and cannot control your behavior because dooood I’m totally wasted and let’s break stuff, Yay Ireland. If you are Irish or of Irish descent, your ancestors are ashamed of you. They fought incredibly hard to dispel the misconceptions that held the Irish people down. So shame on you.
And before anyone gives me crap about promoting respectability politics around this issue I’m not. What I’m saying is that if you are going to celebrate a people and it’s heritage imitating the behavior attributed to a people by their oppressors isn’t really a great way to do it. And if you are looking for an excuse to cut loose and break some rules, by all means do it, just don’t do it in the name of a culture and a people. Own it and say you are doing it for you.
This rant brought to you by the riots on Umass campus in the name of getting drunk and celebrating St. Patty’s Day.