Sidewalksby Tom Deignan
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- Kennedy’s greatest legacy: proving that the Irish could be American, too
- The hypocritical Irish American right-wing anti-immigration reform “Lynch” mob
- Don’t cheer just yet, Pope appoints new bishop who went after outspoken US nuns
Read more: Irish Micky Ward: "The Fighter" speaks out
This Sunday, when Hollywood big wigs gather for the 83rd annual Academy Awards, The Fighter will be looking to have the biggest night for a heavily-Irish movie in five years, since The Departed was up for a bunch of awards, including a Best Supporting Actor nod for “the fighter” himself, Mark Wahlberg.
Given what is going on in the world, given the angry, messy state of the union here at home, it’s tempting to dismiss the Oscars as little more than a gathering of pretentious, pretty folk.
Given what New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg apparently thinks about the Irish, he almost certainly would have had some trouble back in January of 1940. That was when “Wild” Bill Donovan was out and about talking up a new movie starring fellow Irish Americans Pat O’Brien and Jimmy Cagney.
The movie was The Fighting 69th, about the famously Irish National Guard brigade which leads the St. Patrick’s Day parade down Fifth Avenue every year.
Given the stars and subject matter of the movie, you can imagine our mayor envisioning the brigade kicking off the march, while dozens of “inebriated Irishmen” hang out of their Fifth Avenue windows.
Soon, they become sucked into the era’s foggy diplomacy, visiting the war-town landscapes of both England and Germany. These characters are able to move around without raising too much suspicion, in part, because they are from Ireland, and Ireland, of course, was neutral during World War II.
We can argue some other time about Irish neutrality in the face of Nazi barbarism. What this does remind us of is that people – and nations – have had to make tough choices in the past.