I write this every year, it’s a kind of self-indulgence I allow myself every march: St. Patrick’s Day is the most racist day of the year.
Every year we “celebrate” St. Patrick’s Day by drinking ourselves stupid, beginning in the middle of the afternoon, then maybe getting into a few fights. This is acceptable behavior because, we’re told, this is the one day of the year that everyone is Irish. Why is this flagrantly racist stereotype still so eagerly embraced? I believe it is because it is still widely acceptable to think the worst of the Irish, at levels unthinkable among other minority-groups.
People don’t pretend to be Mexican on Cinco De Mayo by standing in an unemployment line and selling oranges on the street-corners. On Yom Kippur people don’t wear shirts that say “kiss me, I’m Jewish” while wearing a cheap elongated nose while fake money falls out of their pockets. Black History month isn’t celebrated by enjoying an all-you-can-eat-fried-chicken buffet and starting a gang-war. And rightly so: these are all horrible racist stereotypes that reduce huge swaths of diverse peoples into the most negative imagery that is usually reserved for the old-racist-kook fraternity.
Why then, is it okay to celebrate ‘be an Irishman day’ (and lets be honest, March 17th has nothing whatsoever to do with the patron saint of
I hear the rebuttals, the same every year: “It’s just an excuse to get drunk…and it’s just an excuse to have fun with my friends”. Do you really need an excuse to have fun with your friends? Of course you don’t. Do you need an excuse to drink? Maybe…but is it necessary for the Irish-drunkard stereotype to serve your loathsome late-night frivolities of licentious lewdness and lunacy?
We like to pat ourselves on the back with how progressive we have become through the delusional artifice of pluralism: the colours of Benetton have become united at last! Yet we cannot look past our beer goggles when the clock points to an excuse to drink that, as it so happens, pokes fun at the Irish. Society has (rightly) shunned people who use words like nigger, wop, chink, and kraut, but it's still okay to spend $10.00 on plastic leprechaun-wear, get drunk in the middle of the afternoon, and get kicked out of 4 bars in a night because, “Hey! On March 17th, we ALL get to be Irish for a day!” and then begin the drunken chorus of “Danny Boy”. I’m a student, but in my spare time, things bother me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to celebrate some else’s Italian heritage by controlling a union and eating a spicy meat-a-ball.
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