As most who visit this blog (God forbid) are aware, my roots go back to Germany on one side and Ireland/Scotland on the other. As such, one half of me feels a mixture of joy and shame every March 17th. Joy because it celebrates my people…shame because they are celebrated by every idiot in America getting drunk and claiming that “Everyone’s Irish today! *vomit*” (In case you’re confused…March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day.)
St. Patrick, of course, is famous for “driving the snakes out of Ireland.” Which, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know is a metaphor since Ireland is wholly inclement to snakes in the first place. St. Patrick served as a missionary to Ireland, where he had previously been held captive as a slave. He ran from his captors, then ran back to evangelize the nation. He “drove out the snakes” by bringing Christ into the nation and starting a Great Awakening to the faith among the Irish people.
March 17th is supposed to celebrate THAT.
There is a second (valid) reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America, though…and that is the plight of the Irish laborer in American history. As we all know (and with all due respect and empathy), in the early days of this country blacks were horribly persecuted and their blood was used to build this nation. Slightly less mistreated, but still dehumanized were the Irish (and the only reason things weren’t as bad for them was because they could learn to hide the accent).
The Irish were often treated as indentured servants—a notable step above slavery, but still humiliating and accompanied by regular beatings—and were kept in the margins of society, all the while building America’s buildings, roads, and cleaning up after aristocrats. Up through even the civil-rights era in America, shop-owners and apartment complexes regularly posted signs (both here and abroad) warning/reassuring possible clientele: “No blacks, No Irish, No Dogs.”
The Irish in America deserve to have a day where they are remembered and celebrated. If that has to come with beer, then so be it…but why can’t it also come with a day off?
The good people at Guinness, the most widely consumed Irish beer, have been fighting to make St. Patrick’s Day a REAL holiday in America for a few years now. They once again have their petition up on their website. If you think the memory of what St. Patrick did and/or if you think the Irish builders of America deserve to be honored properly, please click over and sign. Let’s take St. Patrick’s back from the drunks…by going to a beer-company’s website…somehow.
Anyway… Thanks for your time.
- Lots of Drive-By Truckers, in preparation for the Rock Show on Thursday!