Category Archives: Editorials

Les choses tristes et les heureuses choses • The Sad Things and the Happy Things

Ce fois, je veux écrire en français. (Il y a une traduction anglaise sous le texte français.) Je connais que la majorité de mes lecteurs ne lisent pas du français, mais c’est ma humeur maintenant. Je pensais tous jours sur ma situation ici en l’état de New-York, loin de ma famille, mes amis, et ma ville. Le semestre hier, mon premier semestre ici à l’Université de Binghamton, ma famille, mes amis, et ma ville me manquait toujours ! Aujourd’hui, pendant que chacun me manque, j’ai une nouvelle détermination à finir mon travail ici et gagner mon doctorat.

Ma recherche a modifiée tôt après je suis arrivé ici en août 2019 d’un investigation au manuscrit qui est la première traduction anglaise d’un livre d’Érasme de Rotterdam, son livre de 1506 s’appelle Enchiridion militis Christiani (Manuel du chevalier chrétien) et la possibilité que ce manuscrit a créé par la réformateur anglais William Tyndale (1494–1536). Il y avait deux semaines avant mon départ chez moi pour Binghamton, j’ai découvert un article d’un professeur anglais qui a prouvé toute de mes thèses, mais avec un autre mode qui considère le verbiage de Tyndale dans ses autres œuvres, quand j’aurai envisagé  l’écriture de l’auteur de ce manuscrit et j’aurai comparé cette écriture à un exemple de Tyndale.

Mais la vie n’est jamais simple et j’ai dû considère un nouveau sujet pour mon recherche immédiatement avant mon départ pour ce doctorat. Mes idées pour ça modifiaient fréquemment avec tous les indices que je découvrais, et maintenant je suis parti loin d’Érasme et l’histoire d’Europe seulement. Maintenant ma recherche est sur une colonie française sur un île située dans la baie de Guanabara et l’information ethnographique et zoologique qui s’écrit par deux écrivains qui y’ont eu dans cette colonie, le franciscain André Thevet (1516–1590) et le calviniste Jean de Léry (1536–1613). Cette histoire est autant qu’une histoire environnementale comme une histoire de la première étape de la colonisation et conquête des Amériques par les Européens.

C’est une histoire très personnelle pour moi, car je ne me serait existé jamais sans les terreurs de colonisation, conquête, et génocide. Sans l’arrivée des Européens ici aux ces continents, notre monde ne se serait existé jamais. Considérez ça. En fait, je choisissais ce sujet parce qu’il inclut la possibilité d’écrire un paresseux à crinière (Bradypus torquatus) dans ma thèse de doctorat. C’est joli, n’est-ce pas ? Tout le monde s’aiment les paresseux et je préfère écrire sur les heureux sujets, pas des sujets tristes et déprimants. Mais, regardez-vous où cette aspiration m’a guidé.

Donc, j’inclurai les choses tristes avec les heureuses choses, car c’est comme la réalité, n’est-ce pas ?

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Un paresseux à crinière (Bradypus torquatus) A maned sloth


This time, I want to write in French. (Well, now English. Knowest thine audience!) I know that the majority of my readers do not read French, but it’s how I’m feeling right now. I thought and still think everyday about my place here in New York State, far from my family, my friends, and my city. Last semester, my first semester here at Binghamton University, I always missed my family, my friends, and my city! Today, while I still miss all of them, I have a new determination to finish my work here and earn my doctorate.

My research changed immediately before I arrived here in August 2019 from an investigation into a manuscript which is the first English translation (1523) of a book by Erasmus of Rotterdam, his 1506 book called Enchiridion militis Christiani (Handbook for a Christian Knight) and the possibility that this manuscript was created by the English reformer William Tyndale (1494–1536). It was two weeks before my departure from home for Binghamton that I discovered an article by an English professor which proved all of my arguments, but with another method which considered the verbiage of Tyndale in his other works, while I would have considered the handwriting of the author of this manuscript and compared that handwriting with an example of Tyndale’s.

But life is never simple and I had to consider a new topic for my research immediately before my departure for this doctorate. My ideas for that changed frequently with all the evidence that I discovered, and today I have left Erasmus and solely European history far away. Today I am researching a French colony on an island situated in Guanabara Bay and the ethnographic and zoological information that was written by two writers who were there in that colony, the Franciscan André Thevet (1516–1590) and the Calvinist Jean de Léry (1536–1613). This history is as much an environmental history as a history of the first stage of the colonization and conquest of the Americas by the Europeans.

This history is very personal for me, because I would never have existed without the terrors of colonization, conquest, and genocide. Without the arrival of Europeans here on these continents, our world would never have existed. Consider that. In fact, I chose this subject because it includes the possibility of writing a maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus) into my doctoral dissertation. It’s fun, right? Everybody loves sloths and I prefer to write on happy topics, not sad and depressing topics. But, look at where my aspiration has led me.

Therefore, I will include the sad things with the happy things, because that’s like real life, right?

Why I enjoyed Netflix’s “The Two Popes”

Two Popes posterNetflix’s new two-hour film The Two Popes starring Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Sir Anthony Hopkins as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is theatre, pure and simple. It falls into one of the most classic sorts of plays, a dialogue between two men with similar positions yet very different experiences. While not all the conversations that make up The Two Popes may have happened, according to an article in America, the story that they tell on the screen is beautifully rendered and exceptionally human in its content.

The film begins with the Papal Conclave of 2005 at the death of Pope, now Saint, John Paul II, when then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was elected as the new Supreme Pontiff, taking the name Benedict XVI. The conflict between Benedict and the reformist cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, the current pope, is made clear from the first moment. Moreover, the two characters are framed as foils for each other: Benedict is removed from the world while Francis is fully a part of it; Benedict is traditional while Francis is less keen on pomp and grandeur of the Papacy and the Church in general; Benedict says he is disliked when observing how Francis seems to make friends with just about anyone he meets.

It is important to understand that while this film tells a story inspired by the recent events of the lives of two of the most important men in our lifetimes, it is nonetheless a story meant to entertain and give the audience a message of hope for redemption, peace, and a willingness to accept change even if it may not be the change we expected. In that sense The Two Popes has a bit of the same spirit that has enriched many a story down the centuries. There’s a sense in this film that if two people with opposing perspectives sit down and talk about their disagreements, that eventually they’ll reach some sort of common understanding, or at least mutual respect. Both Popes come to respect each other out of a mutual understanding of their imperfect humanity, that both men have made mistakes in their lives, yet they still have striven to do good.

The Two Popes does not hold back on the problems facing the Catholic Church today. It acknowledges the scandals and errors that continue to plague the Church now at the start of the 2020s. Yet it takes those scandals, those errors, those misjudgments, and it uses them to breath even more life into these two characters. I enjoyed this film because it’s a well written bit of theatre, depicted beautifully on the screen. The Two Popes, and in particular Pryce and Hopkins’s performances, do what any good bit of writing is supposed to do: make the audience think.

Four Months Later

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The simplest way of saying it is that even though I’ve already been in graduate school for the better part of the last four years, I was not prepared for the intensity of work that I have found myself undertaking over the last sixteen weeks. It has now been four months since I left Kansas City for the crown jewel of the State University of New York’s system, Binghamton University. I started on the back foot, as my intended research project became unviable a full two weeks before my departure. Yet I have taken that setback as a good reason to move forward, with resolve, to stay on track and on schedule, and to find another topic to focus my research on.

As most teenagers do, I felt ashamed about the things I had been passionate about as a young child. So many things that I looked back on with joy were simply not “cool enough,” not something that I would want to share with my friends. Yet after starting my undergraduate degree at Rockhurst in 2011, I began to allow myself to open up to those same passions and interests from my earliest years. That said, until now I did not allow topics like zoology, or travel, or natural history to become my primary professional focus; I stayed in the same areas that I fell into in high school and as an undergrad, in politics, theology, and philosophy, and ran with those, completing one bachelor’s and two master’s degrees in that same purely anthropocentric and theocentric vein.

Yet in August, as I found myself without a research topic, the most fundamental part of a Ph.D. in History, I decided to take the initiative and try and incorporate some of those childhood interests into my research. Today, I am beginning what hopefully will be a career-launching research project looking into how Renaissance travel narratives served as vehicles for the transmission of new scientific information, specifically about zoology, from the Americas to the reading public in Europe. I decided to incorporate those old topics that I have always loved to learn about, whether from books or in museums or at zoos, and frame the history that I am writing around them.

The greatest lesson so far since arriving in Binghamton has been in patience. Having landed in a town that frankly I would never choose to live in if not for the university, I have begun to learn how to be patient with my surroundings, to bide my time and work so that I can eventually move on to greener pastures, ideally in a metropolitan city of at least 1.5 to 2 million people. I have also had to shed off the last trappings of my childhood and teenage fear of criticism, which has certainly limited my success in the past. Having a good 400 pages to read per week, I have struggled to properly prepare myself in such a way that I feel confident to discuss the topics at hand, many of which, such as Hippocratic medicine, I have little background in.

I believe that all bad things that happen in our lives eventually boil down to fear, our fear of the unknown, our fear of others, our fear of ourselves even. By beginning to learn how to be patient, how to deal with criticism, I am confronting many of those deepest fears that held me back in the past. I know for a fact that I’m not nearly over many of them, after all some fear is a good thing, otherwise I might try to pet the mountain lion at the Binghamton Zoo, and frankly I’d rather keep both of my hands. Still, a little wise individual, in one of the greatest sagas to be produced in our time, once said that “the greatest teacher fear is.” I certainly believe it.

Twenty Years, Two Home Towns

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This Friday marks a significant anniversary for my parents and I, one which has so thoroughly impacted our lives since that I feel compelled to commemorate it. Twenty years ago, on 14 June 1999, my mother and I arrived in Kansas City, her hometown, and my new city. My father had driven down a few days before to start setting things up, and we met him that afternoon at the home of one of my aunts in Kansas City, Kansas. It has taken me nearly as many years to be able to call Kansas City a second home, alongside Chicago, yet there it is.

In the last six months as this anniversary approached, I have returned to thinking about those first months in the last year of the last century when my parents decided to sell our little GI bill house in suburban Wheaton, Illinois, and buy a 34 acre farm on the western edge of Kansas City, Kansas, in what up until its annexation about 15 years earlier by the aforementioned city, was the farming village of Piper. Why did we do it? The answer is hardly simple, having far too many facets and elements to be answered quickly. The short of it is this, firstly my mother’s employer offered to pay to move us to either Kansas City or Saint Louis (at the time I said I’d rather Saint Louis), the closest Catholic elementary school to our house in Wheaton had a long waiting list for first grade, and my father had, from what I’ve heard, always wanted a farm.

So, in June we packed up the house. Ever the history buff I imagined us following in the footsteps of the pioneers and voyageurs of the three centuries before us, with names like Boone, Crockett, Joliette, and Marquette who likewise left the cities east of the Mississippi and travelled west to find new opportunities, to explore lands they didn’t know. As we crossed the Mississippi in the shadow of the Gateway Arch on the eve of Flag Day, I distinctly remember thinking about them. We weren’t travelling in a covered wagon, though perhaps in its 1990s equivalent, a 1997 Honda Civic, yet still the parallels seemed evident to my six-year-old imagination.

The adventure of the move was there for the first few months at least, and it probably lasted about a year. Still, as the years wore on, I still felt my heart drawn not to this new house that we built in a hay field, nor to the city that was sprawling further and further west. I was lucky to remember much of my life before we moved, my memory going back with consistency to at least the spring after my third birthday. I remembered and dreamed about the people, places, and things that we left behind for years, and for many years yearned for the day when I would finally move back home.

In the last few months after going with a group of friends up to the American Historical Association conference in Chicago, I began to think more and more about whether or not I’d be further along in my career had we stayed there two decades ago, had I gone through the schools up there, had I come from a more globally recognized city. My general conclusion is that I may have ended up in a different field, perhaps more in something having to do with Natural History or perhaps the History of Science. While the practicalities of my desire to return to my first home town have adapted with the flowing current of the times, I can still say with certainty that if given the option, I would still gladly move back.

Perhaps the greatest irony of this anniversary is that in the last year I’ve began to fully accept Kansas City as my second home town and began to really enjoy living here. This truly is a beautiful city, with so much opportunity. It’s taken me 19 years to be able to call this city home, yet now once again I’m on the move, heading east to Binghamton, New York to wrap up my studies with a doctorate in History. After all, like my grandfather and namesake John Kane, who I dearly miss, as soon as I move from one place to another, I start to miss the place that I just left. It’s only fitting then that now, at the moment when Kansas City really feels like home, I’m heading off to some other town. Figures.

Equality under the Law

Words and phrases are powerful tools, and the emotions that we attach to particular words only begin to stick once certain actions are taken based upon the intent of those words. In the United States the debate over the issue of abortion has long been controlled by the social conservatives on the right. Predominately made up of Conservative Protestants and Catholics, this odd faction have united in their opposition to predominately two main issues: the rights of women to control their futures outside of the will of powerful men, and the rights of people to express their love beyond the traditional Judeo-Christian bounds of love between one man and one woman.

This odd couple has been successful in framing the abortion debate as one between those righteous who support the right of all who are conceived to be born, and thus declaring themselves to be Pro-Life. By declaring themselves, the anti-abortion factions, to be Pro-Life, they have categorically deemed their counterparts, those who support women’s abortion rights, to be little more than misguided homicidal individuals. To correct these tendencies towards abortion, the Pro-Life camp has advised women to let their pregnancy go through, and to protect the innocent life that comes out of the mother’s womb. The first of many ironies and issues with this is that the people in positions of power most likely to offer that advice are either men, or women who follow the advice of those men regardless of what might be best for themselves.

A number of years ago, while writing for’s Kansas City Catholic column, I published an opinion piece calling out the anti-abortion movement as not necessarily pro-life, but more simply pro-birth. After writing that article calling out the hypocrisy of people who are so adamant to protect the fetus, but are content with capital punishment, and who refuse to support “socialist” policies like universal healthcare, and matching the minimum wage to the living wage, among others, I actually received a fair number of threats from readers. Today, knowing and recognizing the infractions being committed against women’s rights by state legislatures from coast to coast, including my own state of Missouri, I cannot sit by silently and watch.

In this country we allow the most despicable of speech because if we limited one type of speech then all free speech would equally be threatened. In this country the same social conservatives who oppose abortion have argued that we cannot have even the most basic control on gun sales because it would threaten all rights to own guns. The bills being passed in the state legislatures, that will certainly be used to challenge the legality of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling are not just wrong, they are excessively so. They directly target a particular group of citizens based upon their biological sex and make it harder, if not nigh impossible to have a viable livelihood in a number of states. Like the recent set of voter ID laws that target minority voters, limiting their basic right of participation in government, these anti-abortion laws offend the very concept of equality under the law upon which the sociopolitical life of our country is built.

Earlier this week, when the Governor of Alabama signed that state’s bill into law, she expressly noted the religious undertones that have fueled the anti-abortion movement. As long as we have freedom of religion in this country, we cannot have any direct influence from any one religion upon our government at any level. If a law such as this anti-abortion law, which is openly influenced by the religious beliefs of the aforementioned Conservative Protestants and Catholics, becomes official, then the rights of all other people of faith in this country are infringed upon.

If we are going to allow one faith to be practiced freely, all other faiths must have the same protections. Yet it is counter to the very core of Christianity, a faith in a God of Charitable Love, to use our religion to restrict the rights of others. The malice that fuels these bills is a threat not only to women, but to everyone else in this country who doesn’t fit into the narrow vision of goodness that the anti-abortion crowd yearns for.

Total Control: TV, Streaming, and my Health


Let me begin by saying, I love the variety of programming that’s available through online video databases like YouTube and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. I spend much of my free time watching old shows on YouTube, clips from films, original content by YouTubers, and news reports on the same platform. Equally, I love watching the series being rebroadcast by Netflix like The West Wing as well as their own programming, shows that either were originally produced by Netflix like The Crown, those that have been bought by Netflix like The Last Kingdom and others that are being distributed by Netflix like Versailles and Au Service de la France. When new series are released on Prime Video, I’ll spend a good deal of time on that app, watching some of my favourite programmes of the last few years, especially my big three on that platform The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Man in the High Castle, and The Grand Tour.

These services offer us something that before was only imaginable in our dreams: the ability to have near total control over the types of programmes that we watch, and when we watch them. When I lived in England, I loved using the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and All4 apps for my British television. And while the quality of the programming is on par with what I enjoyed a decade ago when my DVR was filled with shows from PBS, History International, and BBC America, the quantity has significantly risen beyond the scope of what my free time can handle.

While today we may have more choice in what we can watch, I wonder whether we are truly fortunate to have so much choice. I’ve probably spent hours scrolling through YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video looking for new things to watch when my usual diet become stale, hours that I could have spent doing other things. Moreover, I’ve found that my happiest days of TV watching come not from a day spent enjoying the offerings on Netflix or YouTube but rather on the regular old TV networks that have set schedules. Traditionally, one of my favourite Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon and evening traditions has been to keep the TV on PBS the entire time and enjoy the same old programs, the US-based politics and talk shows, the British sitcoms, the occasional broadcast of the BBC World News, and the PBS NewsHour. Lately, having signed on to SlingTV to get access to their French package, I’ve extended that PBS trend to include channels like TV5 Monde and its arts and culture affiliate, TV5 Monde Style. When I lived in England, I did much the same thing, albeit with my TV largely tuned to BBC Four in the evenings for their hours-worth of history documentaries.

I find comfort in abdicating the authority to choose what I watch over to someone in a TV control centre, whether an hours walk away as was the case in London or halfway across the continent in New York or Los Angeles as often is the case here in the US. I wouldn’t mind if we went back to the old practice of the TV broadcasters closing down for the night at 22:00 or 23:00 each evening. It’d give us all time to be cognizant of each other, to talk amongst ourselves, to have proper interactions, something that we lose when our attention is trained constantly upon the screens in front of us.

In an episode in the third season of Versailles, Louis XIV is asked if he loves being king, “after all, you can have anything you desire.” Louis looks off into space, contemplating both the overwhelming power that comes with having absolute say and how he still wants more in his life. I often feel a similar feeling. Sure, I enjoy watching these shows; yes I love getting to know the characters and can even begin to feel as though I can relate to them, but after a while I know that I need to have a break, even if I don’t feel that I have the will to force myself away from that screen.

It can be hard to remember in the moment the ways that I can make myself feel happier, especially after watching a TV screen or a tablet for hours on end. I’ve always loved reading, and when I can break through the lights and noise of the screen, I’ll go back to my books, go back to reading. Yet like the false spirits that surrounded Elijah, in grand gestures that seemed overwhelming, the Truth that made him happiest came in the softest of whispers. With all these new media of entertainment it can be hard to remember those things that make us happiest, that fulfil our lives the best. Yet they’re still there, waiting for us to remember them.

In my case, I have been able to control my screen time and streaming habits, limiting myself on weekdays to only a few hours in the evening, dependent upon each day’s individual schedule. I know what makes me happy and living my life entirely through the abundance of shows available online is just one factor of happiness. I need my books, and the people and animals around me to keep me happy.

I try to live by the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated; when I look over at my dog, often laying near me either bored out of her mind or simply fast asleep as I watch TV, I try to think of ways that I can make the day more fun for her, more enjoyable for her. Likewise, I try to take time away from the videos, programmes, and films that I love to watch to sit back and daydream, to think out stories as I have for as long as I can remember. It’s from these stories, these dreams that I’ve come up with my own books, plays, and poems. If I spend all my free time watching YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon Prime, I won’t have enough time to dream, and that above all else would be a disservice to my mental health, and to my ability to work in a career that I love, to write, to tell stories, and to live my life surrounded by the people that I love.

St. Patrick’s Day

IMG_4100I usually look forward to St. Patrick’s Day, the feast day of my diaspora’s patron saint, and what over the generations has become the day each year when the wider Irish-American community parades in front of the country as a whole celebrating our heritage and continued deep ties to our ancestral homeland. Yet St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that brings me mixed emotions. Every year when I march in the parade down Broadway in Midtown Kansas City with my division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, I feel a series of emotions rolling over me like a quick succession of tides. On the one hand there’s the exhilaration of seeing around 200,000 people lining the street to see the parade and the fantastic public exposure that our group gets from that crowd. Equally though I also feel a pang of helpless exasperation at the tired clichés and old stereotypes kept alive by the American public’s acceptance of the holiday as a day for excess, partying, drinking, and lots and lots of green.

My personal identity has always been a complicated matter to explain. For starters, I was born and spent the first few years of my childhood in the Chicago Suburbs, have lived in Kansas City for the last two decades, yet I’ve always seen my family, particularly my paternal family, as being Irish not only in name but also in character. Despite having lived in the United States since my great-grandfather stepped off the boat in Boston in February 1914, we’ve managed to keep up our ties to Ireland, existing in a sort of parallel society to the one back in our family’s hometown in Mayo, something that I honestly didn’t realize had been as potent as it was until I visited my great-grandparents’ hometown for the first time in July 2016.

To us, we’re just as ethnically Irish as anyone back in Ireland, even though our cousins who stayed behind may merely see us as Americans. That dual, hyphenated identity is a uniquely American concept, after all the United States is a settler-society, a country whose majority population does not have deep ethnic roots in this country but came from somewhere else. In the United States it’s possible to have multiple parts to your identity, to be both ethnically Irish and by nationality American, or for short to simply be Irish-American. Yet there are plenty of people on both sides of the Atlantic who disagree with me on that statement, who live by the melting pot ideal that says that every immigrant who comes to America has their native culture and identity melted down into the great soup, coming out of the melting pot as only an American and nothing else. This all-or-nothing mentality doesn’t help foster dialogue and discourse, nor does it benefit our society as a whole in detracting from diversity. It’s just as narrow-minded as the conservative American Catholics who say that you can’t be a Catholic and vote for the Democratic Party. There are strong pressures on this side, and I find myself asking the question, is there a point where we’ve been living in the United States for long enough that our Irishness really begins to fade away?

On the other side, I often feel a deep irritation and frank dismay every St. Patrick’s Day
when I come across the same old stereotypes and clichés about Irish people that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were expressions of deep-seated anti-Irish prejudices in Protestant societies throughout the English-speaking world. In a 2015 opinion piece for Time, Professor Mike Cronin reminded readers that in the nineteenth century, St. Patrick’s Day was a day for Irish-Americans “to display their civic pride and TheUsualIrishWayofDoingThingsthe strength of their identity,” particularly in the face of “nativist detractors who characterized them as drunken, violent, criminalized, and diseased.” The greatest irony of how our community slowly became an accepted part of mainstream American society is that our day to celebrate our heritage and the fact that we as a diaspora have prospered so well in the face of discrimination here in the United States has been adopted, commercialized, and appropriated into one of a number of days each year when it’s perfectly alright to adopt to excess that “drunken, violent, criminalized, and diseased” behavior that our ancestors were so vehemently accused of. Any notion among the wider public that St. Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of the Irish diaspora in the United States, or the fact that we were able to largely overcome discrimination and, in general, as a community make it in America is lost in a sea of green.

In past semesters when discussing the underlying emotions and causes of racism with my students, a common theme often arises, an understanding that race is fundamentally tied to skin color and therefore that one cannot be racist toward white people. Now, for starters the whole American concept of race is flawed from the very beginning, as is any manner of racism from anywhere around the globe. But here after centuries of institutionalized racism we have so deeply codified that understanding of race as being attached to skin color that in order to fill out any official paperwork, whether it be for a driver’s license or the forms necessary to visit a doctor’s office, one always has to check one of those boxes identifying one’s race. Being of largely Irish descent, with the rest of my ancestors all coming from elsewhere in Northern Europe, I always mark the box that’s labelled “white”, yet I can’t help but feel a pang of frustration in doing so. After all, in order to maintain an understanding that people with darker colored skin are somehow “inferior,” we have to set a standard of superiority. In the United States that standard is being white.

By the simple definition of whiteness, namely having light skin that honestly is more a shade of very pale to slightly red pink rather than categorically white, we Irish-Americans are labelled as white people. But when they were arriving in the coffin ships in the 1840s or on the steamers in the 1910s our ancestors certainly weren’t seen as equals to the White Americans who traced their ancestry back to the English, Scottish, and Dutch Protestants who settled those original thirteen colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In part through the very stupidity of categorizing people by their skin color we, along with other European immigrant communities like the Italians, Jews, Poles, Greeks, Russians, and Germans were eventually accepted into the fold of whiteness in order to keep the charade of racial superiority going. Honestly though, the older Americans who insisted on these biologically-baseless racial hierarchies wouldn’t have accepted us into the upper-most level of the American racial hierarchy if we hadn’t forced our way in and proved our worth. In some parts of this country it took the election, and more probably the assassination of President Kennedy for our community to truly become fully accepted in wider American society.

St. Patrick’s Day is a day when we Irish-Americans ought to be proud of all our community has achieved in this country. When we march through our cities before the watching eyes of the rest of the country, we should do so with our heads held high, reminding America that the Irish-American immigrant story is a success story, a story of a community rising from the bottom up, as my friend Pat O’Neill’s book on Kansas City Irish history is entitled. Yet we should be more active in dispelling some of the current narratives and trends associated with St. Patrick’s Day in the wider community. Today in the United States it’s alright to say that you’re Irish for the day and to express that Irishness by living up to the drunken Irishman stereotype, whether you’re ethnically Irish or not. As one of my students said, “you can’t be racist towards white people.” The fact that we’ve been accepted into the dominant racial majority in this country makes it all the more acceptable for all Americans to play into the same racist clichés of generations past.