The Irish Model

As I was looking for a suitable reference to America’s long history of prejudice against the Catholics I found this interesting web page. It debunks the NINA memories of American Irish. (No Irish Need Apply) Regardless of the truth of the NINA signs anti-Catholic prejudice flourished until even after John Kennedy. Perhaps our current Da Vinci Code mania is a little echo of this past.

The comment on the page which intrigued me the most was about the resistance to doing well in school. Well Duh, any boy knows this. The boy who knows all the answers is likely to be unpopular with his less academic fellows who would rather get their play and aggressions out on the playground than in text books which are the preserve of the people who look down their noses at you.

This attitude is crippling. Its particulary devastating in the black inner city and it could become a problem with the growing Hispanic population. It is exacerbated by unequal school finance.

“This was part of the most sickening aspect of Irish-American life in those days: the assumption that if you rose above an acceptable level of mediocrity, you were guilty of the sin of pride. You were to accept your place and stay in it for the rest of your life; the true rewards would be given to you in heaven, after you were dead. There was ferocious pressure to conform, to avoid breaking out of the pack; self-denial was the supreme virtue…it was arrogant, a sin of pride, to conceive of a life beyond the certainties, rhythms, and traditions of the Neighborhood. Sometimes the attitude was expressed directlyMore often, it was implied. But the Neighborhood view of the world had fierce power. Who did I think I was?”

Our nation’s unwillingness to fully integrate and inspire newcomers when they are young and maleable will have unfortunate repercussions long into the future. Just look at western Europe and their unhappy and only partially assimilated young Muslims.

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