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Toora, loora, loora/ It’s an Irish lullaby — With a Tinge of History

Timothy Egan on this fine St. Patrick’s Day morn put the right perspective on the Irish experience into America’s welcoming arms and its continuing embrace of immigrants.

Slam the door shut!

Send the Statue of Liberty back to France. 

Make Macron pay for the shipping … our years of storage on prime real estate.

We didn’t need it anyway.

[https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/opinion/irish-leo-varadkar.html]

So instead of wearing a “Kiss Me I’m Irish Button” on the opposite side of our stars-and-stripes flag pin, or downing gallons of green beer until we are sick all over gentrified city gutters and quiet suburban streets, let’s take a little dive into what “true Americans” really felt about the tidal wash landing dirty, hungry, unwanted criminals, really, on their sacred shores.

Sounds remarkably current.  Just substitute the racial, religious, or ethnic identity you want to keep out for “Irish.”

George Templeton Strong — Ken Burns’ conveniently snippy Civil War Manhattan diarist — had to stretch his legally-trained vocabulary to describe the Irish piling like up so much garbage on North American shores during his time on earth.  “Scum” worked well enough to describe the “Keltic hod-carriers” in a two jottings for this trustee of his beloved Columbia College — Andrew Hamilton’s uptown alma mater; choir member and vestryman of Trinity Church — the Westminster Abbey of Wall Street bamboozlers and the draft-dodging well-to-do. From the safety of the Union League, they — Strong at the forefront — rallied round the flag, but kept their selves free from the battlefield.  In desperate days in the summer of 1863, they flooded telegraph offices across lower Manhattan, stomped into Army headquarters near Broadway demanding federal protection — soldiers with guns in their hands, fresh from battle at Gettysburg, commanded by stern-spined men like Ben Butler to defend to the death their lives, their property and their sacred honor — from the rioters — immigrants, Irish — who were torching the city, murdering, lynching, beating, robbing, looting, a moving mob of anger. Through  these long July days, as Strong noted sneeringly, the Irish  were exploding in outrage over the draft that would be sweeping the streets of more of their fathers, brothers, sons to fill the Union Army’s ranks, depleted by death, disease, wounds, and desertion. 

The Irish workingmen lacked the $300 to buy their way out, pocket change for Strong and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr..  Of course, they hired substitutes; Strong, Roosevelt, hundreds of other “silk stockings” had other things to do and precious families. The Irish “scum,”  rioters really, labored in the “menials” — on the docks, deep in the building pits,  carrying the hod — piddling work  no true American, like the “silk stockings” would take. Easily replaceable; labor was cheap.

So the rumors, the doubtful truths, the fake news flowed out of their slums in Five Points and other clusters of the tenement-Irish like sewage down streets and alleys, seeping into the saloons —  workingmen’s clubs, freed black men would. And those grinding travails for wage slaves — white or black — were certainly, not worth an exemption from the long-reach of the War Department. Come to think of it, nor were get-out-the-draft free cards at the ready for the Irish-dominated, politically-oriented volunteer fire companies.

Here, courtesy of the City University of New York’s research resource for teachers, words from Strong that are fit for today’s New York nativist slumming in Washington Northwest on March 17, 2018. Strong’s thoughts on the “banshees” before the war.

“Yesterday morning I was a spectator of a strange, weird, painful scene. Seeing a crowd on the corner, I stopped and made my way to a front place. The earth had caved in a few minutes before and crushed the breath out of a pair of ill-starred Irish laborers. They had just been dug out, and lay white and stark on the ground. Around them were a few men and fifteen or twenty Irish women, wives, kinfolk or friends. The women were raising a wild, unearthly cry, half song, wailing as a score of daylight Banshees. Now and then one of them would throw herself down on one of the corpses, or wipe some trace of defilement from the face of the dead man with her apron, slowly and carefully, and then resume her lament. It was an uncanny sound to hear. Our Irish fellow citizens are almost as remote from us in temperament and constitution as the Chinese.

Don’t forget to turn out the light — the lamp Miss Liberty holds high!

Timothy Egan on this fine St. Patrick’s Day morn put the right perspective on the Irish experience into America’s welcoming arms and its continuing embrace of immigrants.

Slam the door shut!

Send the Statue of Liberty back to France. 

Make Macron pay for the shipping … our years of storage on prime real estate.

We didn’t need it anyway.

[https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/opinion/irish-leo-varadkar.html]

So instead of wearing a “Kiss Me I’m Irish Button” on the opposite side of our stars-and-stripes flag pin, or downing gallons of green beer until we are sick all over gentrified city gutters and quiet suburban streets, let’s take a little dive into what “true Americans” really felt about the tidal wash landing dirty, hungry, unwanted criminals, really, on their sacred shores.

Sounds remarkably current.  Just substitute the racial, religious, or ethnic identity you want to keep out for “Irish.”

George Templeton Strong — Ken Burns’ conveniently snippy Civil War Manhattan diarist — had to stretch his legally-trained vocabulary to describe the Irish piling like up so much garbage on North American shores during his time on earth.  “Scum” worked well enough to describe the “Keltic hod-carriers” in a two jottings for this trustee of his beloved Columbia College — Andrew Hamilton’s uptown alma mater; choir member and vestryman of Trinity Church — the Westminster Abbey of Wall Street bamboozlers and the draft-dodging well-to-do. From the safety of the Union League, they — Strong at the forefront — rallied round the flag, but kept their selves free from the battlefield.  In desperate days in the summer of 1863, they flooded telegraph offices across lower Manhattan, stomped into Army headquarters near Broadway demanding federal protection — soldiers with guns in their hands, fresh from battle at Gettysburg, commanded by stern-spined men like Ben Butler to defend to the death their lives, their property and their sacred honor — from the rioters — immigrants, Irish — who were torching the city, murdering, lynching, beating, robbing, looting, a moving mob of anger. Through  these long July days, as Strong noted sneeringly, the Irish  were exploding in outrage over the draft that would be sweeping the streets of more of their fathers, brothers, sons to fill the Union Army’s ranks, depleted by death, disease, wounds, and desertion. 

The Irish workingmen lacked the $300 to buy their way out, pocket change for Strong and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr..  Of course, they hired substitutes; Strong, Roosevelt, hundreds of other “silk stockings” had other things to do and precious families. The Irish “scum,”  rioters really, labored in the “menials” — on the docks, deep in the building pits,  carrying the hod — piddling work  no true American, like the “silk stockings” would take. Easily replaceable; labor was cheap.

So the rumors, the doubtful truths, the fake news flowed out of their slums in Five Points and other clusters of the tenement-Irish like sewage down streets and alleys, seeping into the saloons —  workingmen’s clubs, freed black men would. And those grinding travails for wage slaves — white or black — were certainly, not worth an exemption from the long-reach of the War Department. Come to think of it, nor were get-out-the-draft free cards at the ready for the Irish-dominated, politically-oriented volunteer fire companies.

Here, courtesy of the City University of New York’s research resource for teachers, words from Strong that are fit for today’s New York nativist slumming in Washington Northwest on March 17, 2018. Strong’s thoughts on the “banshees” before the war.

“Yesterday morning I was a spectator of a strange, weird, painful scene. Seeing a crowd on the corner, I stopped and made my way to a front place. The earth had caved in a few minutes before and crushed the breath out of a pair of ill-starred Irish laborers. They had just been dug out, and lay white and stark on the ground. Around them were a few men and fifteen or twenty Irish women, wives, kinfolk or friends. The women were raising a wild, unearthly cry, half song, wailing as a score of daylight Banshees. Now and then one of them would throw herself down on one of the corpses, or wipe some trace of defilement from the face of the dead man with her apron, slowly and carefully, and then resume her lament. It was an uncanny sound to hear. Our Irish fellow citizens are almost as remote from us in temperament and constitution as the Chinese.

Don’t forget to turn out the light — the lamp Miss Liberty holds high!

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