Friday, May 17, 2019

On finding out you're Irish =(

Dear T,

I once met a black lady who went to an ancestry website, got a DNA test, and found out she was 4% Irish.  Black as night and still Irish.  This came as a surprise to both of us.  Her immediate response was that she was probably related to some slave-owning rapist, and my immediate response to this was that we're all related to lots of rapists, and if we didn't think we were related to rapists we've got another thing coming -- probably a grandchild who's a rapist in the making.  A rosy picture of humanity, this one.  Imagine being in the most crime-ridden race in America and finding out you're 4% Irish and deciding then you're related to a rapist.  It's like finding out you're 4% Chinese and deciding that someone in your millions-of-years-in-the-making-family was good at math, or killing Christians.


Still, the court is in her favor.  The chance that that 4% isn't specifically from a rapist is low -- and the fact that he's Irish doesn't help.  Edmund Burke, in fact, is the first Irishman of any note I've ever heard of, and he existed around the American Revolution.  Before that at least to me it's pitch blackness; and Benjamin Franklin in one of his letters says that the Irish were worse off, in general, than Native American savages -- a hell of a thing to say from someone who thought Native Americans were a train wreck*.
Not all Irish blend in so well as I said

Regarding the Irish, this train wreck was of course a product of the English.  The Irish were practically animals because they were kicked off their land.  Taxed and land-lorded to death.  Barred from holding government positions and good jobs.  They were Catholic at a time when the pope was essentially an enemy king, so they were considered untrustworthy, and probably traitors.  Rights were as few as foodstuffs.  Banditry, a class of people who had no other way to keep the kids from starving, roamed the countryside.  Murder, especially against the English colonists, was rampant.

It's a miracle the Irish have turned out as good as they did.  I mean Ireland in general, but also the Irish in America.  Somehow they were able to make it after centuries of oppression and abject poverty, a combination very close in some ways to our slavery and Jim Crow.  They came here, dirt poor and hated and freckled and ignorant, no affirmative action programs in sight, somehow hacked a living out of the earth, and aside from the red-heads (poor bastards) get mistaken for the other whites.  It's not even embarrassing to tell people you're Irish -- unless of course you're black. Even then it makes you just as much the rapist as the raped.  And so what if you're related to a king?  For every king in a line we're each related to a thousand slaves.  For every great man in your ancestry you're descended from a hundred dunces.  We don't need to have an ancestry to have self-esteem.  Our self-esteem causes us to look for ancestry -- and even more than this, it causes us to ignore most of it.

Your father,
-J 

*Ben Franklin was once sent on a peace-mission to the Indians.  His account in his autobiography, with slight modifications to punctuation and spelling, is as follows:
As those people are extremely apt to get drunk, and, when so, are very quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly forbade the selling any liquor to them; and when they complained of this restriction, we told them that if they would continue sober during the treaty, we would give them plenty of rum when business was over. They promised this, and they kept their promise because they could get no liquor, and the treaty was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual satisfaction. They then claimed and received the rum.  This was in the afternoon: they were near one hundred men, women, and children, and were lodged in temporary cabins, built in the form of a square, just without the town. In the evening, hearing a great noise among them, the commissioners walked out to see what was the matter. We found they had made a great bonfire in the middle of the square; they were all drunk, men and women, quarreling and fighting. Their dark-coloured bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the bonfire, running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, formed a scene the most resembling our ideas of hell that could well be imagined.  There was no appeasing the tumult, and we retired to our lodging. At midnight a number of them came thundering at our door, demanding more rum, of which we took no notice. 
The next day, sensible they had misbehaved in giving us that disturbance, they sent three of their old counselors to make their apology. The orator acknowledged the fault, but laid it upon the rum; and then endeavoured to excuse the rum by saying, "The Great Spirit, who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he designed anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum, he said, 'Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with,' and it must be so." And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.
 And we're told the Irish are alcoholics.


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