Help Wanted: Grand Marshal of NYC Saint Patrick's Day 2011
By: Cahir O'Doherty | Published Sunday, September 26, 2010, 8:20 AM | Updated Sunday, August 4, 2013, 2:07 AM
Requirements: Must be comfortable upholding two decades of unbroken discrimination.
Full Disclosure: If selected, you will not be our first choice.
Well I know the New York City job market is tight but, I mean to say, who on earth would volunteer for a gig like that?
Why, come on down Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan!
Your Grace, as you’re strapping on your tricolor sash next March may I ask you to remember this: you may be the last man in Manhattan still willing to fit the job description.
We live in an era of rapid social change. Thank goodness for Archbishop Dolan and the Saint Patrick’s Day Committee who are doing everything in their power to stop it.
In hindsight, though, it’s quite hard to believe that the New York Parade Committee actually contemplated inviting their first choice (sorry, Your Grace) the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, to be the Grand Marshall of its 250 anniversary in 2011.
Why? Because Mary McAleese has spent her entire adult life standing up to discrimination and petty intolerance wherever she found it – and growing up in Belfast in the 1960’s she found it almost everywhere.
This is a woman who knows discrimination when she sees it - and she sees it all over Fifth Avenue on March 17.
It tells you something about the splendid isolation the parade selection committee live in (they're mostly ensconced in that bastion of ethnic and social diversity called Westchester, which in 2000 was 71.35% white) that they contemplated asking her in the first place.
It must come as a terrific surprise to them how few people share their views these days. And if President McAleese isn't anti-gay enough for them, wait till they hear who's the favorite to succeed her next year (it's Senator David Norris, the noted James Joyce scholar, also notable for being a successful gay rights activist).
Ironically, in sending a despised minority to purdah, the New York City Saint Patrick's Day parade committee are now discovering what it feels like to be a ridiculed minority under siege themselves.
How's that for a little Irish poetry?