Irish Americans are the new ruling class and establishment in America says Ireland’s leading columnist Fintan O’Toole but they act like they are still being persecuted.
Exhibit A is Judge Brett Kavanaugh writes Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times. He claims Kavanaugh ’s victimhood and sense of outrage was on vivid display last week proving the Irish Catholic ethos has been hijacked by the far right.
O’Toole says the message from people like Kavanaugh is “I am not privileged, but I am in fact a victim.
“The establishment,” he writes is “no longer White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. It is White Irish Catholic. Some part of the identity that so many of us on this island share is now at the center of American reactionary politics. And what we have to face that it is not the Catholic part of this that is fundamentally corrupted. It is the Irish part.”
As evidence of Irish Catholic superiority O'Toole cites the Supreme Court:
“There is no Protestant on the Supreme Court. Three members are Jewish, but six of the nine justices are Catholic if you count Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic but is thought to attend an Episcopal church. Kavanaugh would make it seven. Even more remarkably, all the other possible candidates mentioned before Trump settled on him – Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman and Amul Thapar – are Catholic too. And only one of these Catholic judges – Sonia Sotomayor – is liberal. All the rest are on the hard right.”
O’Toole claims that with the Trump administration, something more specific has happened.
“It is not just about Catholics; it is about Irish Catholics. Kavanaugh is the latest Irish-American to be a key figure in the Trump nexus – after, among others, Steve Bannon, John Kelly, Mike Flynn, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and Paul Ryan.
“In the stew of far-right reaction, a crucial ingredient is the transference of victimhood: the claim that white men, rather than being (as they are) relatively privileged, are in fact victims.”
O’Toole says it especially applies to Irish Americans like Kavanaugh (who played Gaelic football as a child) who claim they are still victims even though they are privileged.
“You could see this written on Kavanaugh’s face during his testimony last week: the rage of self-pity.”
O’Toole says there is actual history proving that Irish were once victims.
“The beauty of a specifically Irish Catholicism is that it has victimhood in its DNA. It has a genuine history of suppression and trauma. Even if you’re a very privileged white boy going to an elite Jesuit school like Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep (fees: $58,000 a year) you can claim ownership of the Great Famine and 800 years of oppression.
"We were immigrants, we were victims – and we still are, even when we’re in power.”
O’Toole says “Irish” qualifies “Catholic.” And corrupts it. There is here a devil’s bargain: in return for power, the soul has been sold. Cruelty, misogyny, prejudice and the blasphemous worship of boorish destructiveness are all masked by victimhood.
O’Toole concludes “Past oppression should sensitize us to present injustice, not entitle us to abuse privilege.”