On the day of St. Patrick millions of people from across the country will leave their homes dressed from head to toe in green, wave Irish flags and shout “Erin go bragh” (“Ireland Forever”) as they head to their local pub to get drunk on Guinness and the preferred alcoholic indulgence of the day, the “Car Bomb” - a morbid reminder of the Irish Republican Army’s campaign of terror that left 1,800 people dead, 650 of them civilians.
Despite my ire for “Car Bombs”, I enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. It is a wonderful way to celebrate America’s strong ties with “The Emerald Isle” and a day to appreciate the many contributions that Irish immigrants have made to America.
I also like St. Patrick’s Day because it exposes so many nativists to be nothing more than hypocrites. Anti-Immigration is the preferred euphemism for nativism, and it indeed describes one common characteristic of all nativists.
In the 1850’s a political party called the “American Party” formed in opposition to the immigration of Irish Catholics. Among other things, members of the “American Party” campaigned for laws to require longer waiting periods between immigration and naturalization. I wonder what "American Party" members would think of their distant relatives gallivanting across town dressed in green, eating soda bread and professing their love for Ireland.
Yet many in today’s green-clad crowd, shouting “Ireland Forever”, and sipping whiskey will fail to see the irony when they roll their eyes overhearing a Spanish conversation in the mall, or they turn red-in-the-face when seeing a Mexican flag hanging from a car’s rear-view mirror. Could you imagine the uproar if Mexican-Americans draped themselves in Mexican flags, started shouting, “México para siempre” (Mexico Forever), and gathered in a bar to drink Dos Equis? The Drudge Report sirens would immediately herald the distressing details and the story would dominate Fox News and talk radio coverage for the next two weeks.
You would think that 160 years after the nativist “American Party” sought to rid the country of Irish influence, less people would seek the same fate for other cultures and more people would understand that America’s future is like gold. Purity weakens us but diversity gives us strength.