Saint Patrick’s Day and the Boston Globe’s Disparagement of the Irish

British outHappy Saint Patrick’s day!

This is a special day for those who are Irish. Chicago colors its river green; New York has its famous parade although the route gets shorter every year. Last time I was in the Big Apple on this day I was with my friend Timmy O’Leary and there was a huge abundance of green. What I noticed most was the Catholic schools were keeping up their tradition of marching in the parade. All the alumni who marched behind the students were white and part of the Irish Catholic city folk who packed into those schools. Now a stark difference was readily noticeable. All the  students marching in front were black and Hispanic. Nothing could tell better of the changes in that city has undergone than that.

Boston celebrates the day as the day the Irish drove the British out of the city. It also reminds the Irish that they failed to drive the British out of their island. There are still marchers with posters that remind the Irish that the job was not completely done.

Although we believed that we had driven them out of Boston, we could never shake the idea that like in Ireland we did not complete the job. We now know it.

Still carrying the grudge from the time the Irish manned the cannons in Southie on Dorchester Heights and chased their relatives out of our city the Boston Globe finally showed its true colors. It had an article with the headlineHow Americans pushed the Irish to war” written by Ruth Dudley Edwards.  She says of the Irish Americans who supported the war for Irish independence that “they have been a force for evil since the mid-19th-century”  That was nothing as she went on trashing Irish Americans as if there had never been a Black and Tan.

Who was this woman the Globe scoured the earth to find so it could publish a scurrilous article maligning  the American Irish so near to our special holiday, I wondered.  

I found this:

Previously, I had never heard of Ms Dudley Edwards. She is an Irish historian and writer, born and raised in Dublin. . . . Most of her work involves painting a sympathetic picture of Unionism and Loyalism. She also wrote The Faithful Tribe, a meticulously planned celebration of the Orange Order, a sectarian, anti-Catholic organisation that preaches that bigotry much more than honouring the heritage and courage of the Protestant Northern Irish. 

Some Irish people have a name for people like Dudley Edwards: “West British.” It’s used as a perjorative for Irish people who are said to be culturally or politically sympathetic to Britain. Of course, my dislike of Dudley Edwards . . . comes from another name for people like Dudley Edwards, and this time it was coined by Mao Zedong – revisionists, or people who try to alter the truth of history. Because that’s unfortunately what Dudley Edwards is. She’s a revisionist historian, one of many whose work involves trying to gloss over the human rights record of the British Empire. This is best exemplified by a line from the article she wrote in the Daily Mail regarding that much: “For the truth is that, as empires go, the British version was the most responsible and humane of all. With all its deficiencies, it brought much of value to most of the countries it occupied. Also, it all happened a long time ago and no one should be forced to apologise for it.”

The writer went on:

“Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone asserted that Ireland’s treatment at the hands of Britain over 700 years was worse than the Jews’ treatment under Hitler. . . .  But the simple truth is that under British rule, the Irish endured centuries of successive wars, famines and massacres. Oliver Cromwell’s actions in Ireland would, by today’s standards, be classified as crimes against humanity and genocide. And when you consider the other wars, famines and massacres that Britain levelled . . . you realise that Britain was ruthless and vicious in putting down people who simply refused to be ruled by a foreign power. So I think Dudley Edwards is totally wrong in her assertion that the British Empire was somehow a benevolent hegemon.”

There’s more in that article and elsewhere to show the woman is virulently anti-Irish Catholic and pro-British.

Letting Dudley Edwards write her column is like giving David Duke a column to write before Martin Luther King Day, or Iran’s Sayyed Ali Khamenei  before the Fourth of July, or a Holocaust denier before Yom Kippur. What possible reason can be attached to this decision to allow this woman to debase the American Irish on the eve of Saint Patrick’s day other than a strong and virulent anti-Irish attitude at that paper.

And  I would add that because it was from the heights of South Boston the artillery manned by the Irish was posed to wipe out the British fleet the Globe’s hostile attitude also included everything connected with Southie.

21 thoughts on “Saint Patrick’s Day and the Boston Globe’s Disparagement of the Irish

  1. It is doubtful there were many Irish manning the cannons on Dorchester Heights. The town and surrounding countryside were overwhelmingly WASP. The same would been the same of any personnel Gen. Washington brought with him. In any case the withdrawal was pretty much in the cards. It was an event a lot less heroic than is usually presented. From US Army History: “Washington finally took the initiative at Boston. On March 4, 1776, he moved onto Dorchester Heights and emplaced his newly acquired artillery in position to menace the city; a few days later he fortified Nook’s Hill, standing still closer in. On March 17 the British moved out. It would be presumptuous to say that their exit was solely a consequence of American pressure. Sir William Howe, who succeeded Gage in command, had concluded long since that Boston was a poor strategic base and intended to stay only until the transports arrived to take his army to Halifax in Nova Scotia to regroup and await reinforcements. Nevertheless, Washington’s maneuvers hastened his departure, and the reoccupation of Boston was an important psychological victory for the Americans, balancing the disappointments of the Canadian campaign. The stores of cannon and ammunition the British were forced to leave behind were a welcome addition indeed to the meager American arsenal.” Additionally there was an agreement worked out that if the British did not torch the Town the artillery would not be fired at the Fleet.

  2. Matt, Amen to that !!! 🙂 … Show some Class. You disappoint with a petty churlishness. Sorry if your blog is construed by me as somewhat more serious than a Matt Connolly Vanity Page wherein you are thinskinned with those who disagree, and coo and bill prettily when the Declan’s of the world bring teacher an apple.

    You put your ideas out in the Public Square then be man enough to brook dissent. My Great Gran was handing lunch down through cellar windows on rhe East Boston docks to Irish immigrants when you were a generation in the offing. 🙂 … Your comments generally on yesterday’s St.Patrick’s Day were rather sour. Not exemplary behavior I suspect laddie.

  3. Why do I get such a kick out of your incivility. BECAUSE I’M IRISH !!!!!!!!! That’s why 🙂

    1. Henry:

      My memory of them is having had a few beers and suffering to that god-awful repetitious music that got louder and louder as the night wore on and I usually left with a slitting headache. Maybe it was just me but it seemed a lot more like torture than fun going to those places.

  4. “West British”? Another term for that is Anglo-Irish for those of British descent living in Ireland, along the lines of Anglo-Norman, for those who invaded southern Britain and stayed, who themselves were descendants of Vikings who invaded France and stayed. Likewise, displaced non-Gaelic speaking non-Catholic peoples from Great Britain and other countries that settled in Ulster then remigrated to North America are called Scots-Irish or Scotch-Irish.

    A Scot in the West Marche Border region of Scotland by the name of William Wallace (“Braveheart”) married a Margery Sophia Kennedy. When another Kennedy was married in a Catholic ceremony in 1755 Harbour Grace-Carbonear, Newfoundland, his house was ordered to be burnt down under the Penal Laws in effect in the United Kingdom and its colonies. How very democratic.

  5. Happy St. Patrick ‘ s Day. I see her piece is listed as opinion. Nevertheless, I think there should have been an editors’ note explaining that the lady has a certain bias. The timing, of course, is abominable. I have already ordered up 1,000 hours of ethnic sensitivity training for the newspaper’s nitwit op – ed page editor. While the two situations aren’t historically analogous, this a little like running a slavery-wasn’t-that – bad opinion piece on the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

    1. Dan:

      The timing is horrible but what amazes me is how they were able to track down this woman to give her an op-ed. It’s not that she is in the news or writing about a subject of pending interest. I don’t think sensitivity training helps those inclined to evil.

  6. Without getting into too much discussion, Americans of Irish descent should remember that the current IRA and Sinn Fein have little connection to the IRA and Sinn Fein of 1905 -1959. Everything changed over the years, especially after 1970 and the split into factions. Sinn Fein is considered a democratic socialist or left-wing party. Fianna Fail is centre-right. And Catholic Ireland is gone.

    Ms Edwards is a well-respected historian, but perhaps not as romantic as some might wish.

    I suggest other historians to read are Diarmuid Ferriter, Tim Pat Coogan, and Roy Foster.

    “Out of Ireland have we come.
    Great hatred, little room,
    Maimed us at the start.
    I carry from my mother’s womb
    A fanatic heart.”

    ― W.B. Yeat

    1. Henry:

      From the article you cite Ms Edwards says the movie Black and Tan would have been more compelling if it looked “at events from the standpoint of some wretch of a Black and Tan who had survived years of war only to end up in Ireland.”

      That sort of proves my point where she wants to justify the actions of the brutes over the victims. I was never part of the school that wanted to look at the hard life of some guy who is brutalizing a woman and children. many have had tough roads to travel; few turn into brutes. Viewing the actions in WWII from the eyes of an SS soldier or today from the eyes of an ISIS executioner; or the people murdered by Whitey from his eyes is not my cup of tea.

    1. Nc:

      There’s an old Irish greeting I pass on to you.

      When the rogue rises up to meet you.
      May you wind his arm around his back.
      May you put a nice shiner on his face,
      And beat him soundly until he yields
      And if you ever meet him again
      May God help him get away alive.

  7. I read it, also thinking it a little odd. I can see the Globe is changing direction in writers–some have left and others are there only for a day or so.
    Happy St. Patricks Day, Matt!
    Keep up the good work.

    1. PE:

      Happy St. Patrick’s day to you also. I’ve heard that the Drake’s Island historian is in a sort of funk since his bar room hopping buddy is out of town and of all time on St. Patrick’s day. Tell him we will hoist a glass or two at O’Leary’s in his honor.

  8. Slainté, Matt! Heading to the Cape today to walk around and see how Falmouth does St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll have to go back to read that article which I had skipped a few days ago. Thanks for the post.

    1. GOK:

      Didn’t know Falmouth celebrated St. Patrick’s Day but if you find anyone doing it let me know. Have a good day.

  9. Screw crazy Ruth Dudley Edwards … Long live the bewitching goddess Countess Markievicz and the Fianna Fáil … Happy St. Patrick’s Day 🙂

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