Controversial charge ahead of St. Patrick's Day shows a deep misunderstanding about Irish Americans, their history and their views.
Every year around St. Patrick’s Day some pompous ass from Ireland announces the Irish Americans are racist and have lost their way and forgotten their heritage.
This is deduced from 3,000 miles away and is the equivalent of an Irish American arriving in Ireland and lecturing the Irish on how intolerant they are.
Fair enough, but when Ó Ríordáin lashes into Irish Americans for forgetting their past and claims that the Irish have a “racist reputation (that)the Irish in America garnered for themselves.”
This is so inaccurate as to be laughable. The history of Irish America is full of men and women of conscience such as Senator Eugene McCarthy who began the movement to extract America from Vietnam, John F Kennedy who had the courage to enact civil rights legislation, Senator Edward Kennedy the lion of the US Senate, Mother Jones who helped create the modern union movement to name a few.
Or of the 15 leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 eighth are Irish Americans, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, Governor Jerry Brown, Joseph Kennedy III. Terry McAuliffe, Martin O’Malley, Senator Chris Murphy, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
If Democrats in the House win it back it is very possible the speaker will be Joe Crowley a working-class son of Queens, deeply proud of his heritage. All of these men and one woman fight racism as a duty and a responsibility.
That doesn't sound like a community locked in some right-wing embrace politically.
O'Riordain proves his thesis by pointing to the Trump administration and how prominent the “Irish names are, even after the departure of Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn.
“Throw a stone in the White House and you’d probably hit a Kelly or a Conway or a McConnell or a Ryan or a McCarthy.”
Just for the record, Mitch McConnell, Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McCarthy are separate from the White House as they are constitutionally bound to be.
There have always been over-representation of Irish in American politics, it is something we do well both on the GOP side and the Democratic one.
Obama's closest confidant was Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Jake Sullivan was a key foreign policy advisor, Bill Daly was an earlier Chief of Staff, Kitty Higgins was Clinton cabinet secretary, Susan Brophy, his key congressional policy advisor, Mark Gearan Director of Communications.
So there is no sudden tilt to the racist right claimed by Ó Ríordáin in his screed.Go back to Ronald Reagan, there was Don Regan, Bill Clark, William Casey, Margaret Heckler. It is a constant that many Irish are in key positions in every White House. It proves nothing that Trump has his share of them.
If he wants to look at a younger generation of Irish American politics look no further than just elected Conor Lamb whose uncle is the Honorary Irish Consul in Pittsburgh. Yes, there are true bigots like Vice President Pence but for every Pence there is an Irish American politician who remembers and understands where his history came from. George Mitchell anyone?
So spare us the patronizing lectures from one week a year Irish politicians who claim Irish Americans are racist There is no evidence whatever they are more racist than anyone else and powerful evidence, given the political leaning, they are actually less so.
It’s time people like Ó Ríordáin stopped pontificating about something he knows nothing about Irish American are not far removed from the reality of what their ancestors went through and millions, in politics, police work, teaching, caring are giving back. That is the true Irish American spirit.
Human rights activist Kerry Kennedy joins Irish author Colum McCann, Irish comedian Maeve Higgins, and feminist writer Mona Eltahawy to celebrate immigration and those stories that unify rather than divide at Irish Stand on Friday, March 16. Proceeds go toward the NYCLU and their work with vulnerable immigrants. Tickets and more info can be found here.