Redskin fans and Irish greenery

Irish and Native Americans share a similar problem of existential crisis.

Brendan Patrick Keane

Blinking shamrock, green face paint, plastic croziers and tinted beer is the paraphernalia that makes Saint Patricks Day a global phenomenon.

There's some danger that we're getting the wrong idea. In ways the question is similar to thinking Native American nations are secure because Redskin fans are so creative.

Irish and Native Americans share a similar problem of existential crisis (and the alcoholism that comes with lost identity). Assimilation was demanded differently for Iroquois and Irish in America than is suggested today. It's left a lot of white ethnics and older populations at a loss in the United States.

For many assimilated Irish it's all we have left to connect us to the motherland and each other. For businessmen, it's another way to profit on plastic tchotchkes from Chinese labor camps. For the Irish diaspora it's a great Éire go bragh! Ireland Forever! call of unity heard round the world. It's a chance for Irish artists to make some bread, with standards ever improving as many of us discover the value of our native traditions again.

In Dublin the festival has become a Féile. The ancient Celts and Gaels and Gauls knew how to party. Post Famine Ireland became a morally austere place married to Victorianism. Such austerity is not more Irish though many descendants of the famine were taught to believe so. Patrick never taught that God is mad at Ireland.

We're ushering in the Spring again with St. Pádraig as marshall, like we've done for more than sixteen centuries.

We're an ancient culture that's been around longer than many. Our language and our gene pool is shrinking however. It's a critical fact we don't talk about enough.  

The Redskins is not sufficient replacement for the dignity and genius of Cherokee or Navajo peoples. Neither can we believe Ireland is safe and sound because the world wears green on March 17.

But like any self-respecting child of the diaspora, I'll be out there wearin' the green, celebrating our family and hoping for its healthy future.