What would you have done?

  • thatirishbast...

    Posts: 3523

    Oct 18, 2012 8:33 PM GMT
    I'm curious as to what the RJ community would have done in this sort of situation. I'm going to say right out that I'm not intending this as a rant of any kind or to complain. So sorry ahead of time if it comes of like that.

    I grew up in Ireland, and have been living in the States for ten years. However, it wasn't until I got to Chicago that I truly interacted with the Irish American community. We really haven't rubbed off well. As someone who immersed himself in Irish culture all his life, I resent that the commercialisation of Irish cutlure by the Americans as well as their labeling themselves as 'Irish.' But that's besides the point.

    I was at a local pub with some of my mates a few weeks ago. We were having some good craic, the musicians and dancers who gather always have a grand time. It was in a collegey part of town, and there were a group of young Americans near us who were getting rowdy. Most of them were dressed in green for the 'half way to St. Paddy's Day' celebration. They were getting their Irish pride on, shouting "Kiss My Irish Ass!" and the like, pretending to fight one another and doing little Irish jigs. Ridiculous and grating? Yes. But I've learned to ignore it.

    But it wasn't until they started making toasts to the Irish Republican Army and shouting "Up the RA!" that me ire began rising. For those of you who don't know, the IRA and their opponents the UVF caused thousands of innocent deaths in Ireland and Britain in the decades of the 20th Century that we call 'The Troubles." The IRA committed terrorist acts and assassinations with the goal of driving British forces out of Ireland. Even those of us who fully support a united Ireland, myself included, see the RA as a group of malcontents and murderers who succeeded in doing nothing but filling our gutters with blood. My grandfather's brother and his wife were killed inadvertantly in an IRA attack.

    So when an Irishman hears an American saying "Up the IRA" it's like an Afghani woman hearing 'Hell Yeah Al Qaeda!" Many Irish Americans like supporting the IRA because it makes them feel like rebels and badasses without the consequences of being shunned or reviled for it. Those who do give the true Irish a terrible name, as people who are good for nothing but killing each other and fighting in the streets. I don't expect many of the RJ community to understand how deep this cuts, but it does.

    So what should I have done? Tried to continue ignoring it? Shouted at them to shut the fuck up about things they can't understand? Draw a throwing knife from my boot and stick it in their table?

    I apologise if this makes me sound like a whinging bastard. That's not what I intended.
  • comfortablynu...

    Posts: 230

    Oct 18, 2012 8:47 PM GMT
    Not sure what I would have done. We only recognize terrorist groups when the people are brown here in America though. Otherwise they are freedom fighters. We even have a member of Congress who compared the leader of Sinn Fein to George Washington and said "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry."

    He's the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King. Ironically, he recently held hearings on the radicalization of Muslims. We're a fucked up country, don't know what to tell you.

    Sorry for your losses back home. I hope your experiences of Irish-American culture in the future don't go so poorly. I've never been to Chicago, but South Boston has a great Irish community and it's becoming pretty gay too.
  • thatirishbast...

    Posts: 3523

    Oct 18, 2012 9:18 PM GMT
    topathlete saidIt's a difficult situation and I think the best thing is to ignore it even though it is quite offensive. Just realize they don't have a clue as to what they are saying. Talking to them or shouting at them would do nothing except maybe start a fight.

    These kind of groups especially in Chicago can be drunk and obnoxious. It's not the same, but the German Oktoberfest celebrations can be annoying to Germans or people who visit or have friends in Germany because it implies Bavaria represents all Germany, suggests Germany is tacky and people wear leather pants and listen to om-pah music and drink beer all the time. It's not nearly as offensive as celebrating the IRA because the German celebrations don't include include the real offensive things like Nazi memorabilia. But the difference is the folks at Oktoberfests know Nazi stuff is bad but Irish celebrants are totally clueless about the IRA.

    Just chalk it up to their ignorance and do your best to ignore it.


    Yes...but....we as gay men continually talk about how we need to fight ignorance against our sexuality when we see it, and that ignoring such things is tacit approval. The culture and history of my people are very dear to me. I get angered when I see the neon shamrocks, dancing leprechauns, caritcaturising and bastardising of my people that is so prevelant and accepted in the States. It's seen as good fun, except to us who are being mocked.

    So when it's an especially touchy subject like the IRA, it's very difficult for me to remain quiet. In this case, aye, I spoke to them with raised voices and cussed them out. There was a bit of an altercation, but fortunately the barkeep was on my side as he was just about to come and tell them to shape up himself. No knives were thrown, tempting as it was.
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    Oct 18, 2012 9:29 PM GMT
    "we as gay men continually talk about how we need to fight ignorance against our sexuality when we see it, and that ignoring such things is tacit approval."

    Unfortunately Gay Conservatives, on this side of the Pond, DO NOT TALK ABOUT HOW WE NEED TO FIGHT IGNORANCE AGAINST OUR SEXUALITY.

    Back to your question on how to express your views on the IRA to an Irish-American audience:

    WAIT til your listener is sober and tell him just what you told us:

    " Even those of us who fully support a united Ireland, myself included, see the RA as a group of malcontents and murderers who succeeded in doing nothing but filling our gutters with blood. My grandfather's brother and his wife were killed inadvertantly in an IRA attack."



  • thatirishbast...

    Posts: 3523

    Oct 22, 2012 1:52 AM GMT
    topathlete said
    thatirishbastard said
    topathlete said


    As far as tacky depiction of Irish culture, the only thing I think you can do is avoid those places or change your attitude realizing they are not really intending to insult Ireland. I mentioned Americans doing the same with Germany especially at Oktoberfests. Everything is Bavarian - stuff I mentioned above as well as other things like the Chicken Dance. It happens in reverse too. If you go to Germany, the typical American foods are hamburgers and hot dogs and everything is Texas and cowboys. It's just the way things are. The ones who travel know it's just for fun and not really mocking the other country.
    .


    Yes, this is true. Part of it is that in Ireland many of us have a long resentment against the British government for trying to eradicate our native culture for 800 years. No offense meant to any Brits who may see this!

    So when I see the Americans pretending that being Irish is about green beer and shamrocks, leprechauns and drunkeness, it hits a sore spot. And when I see those very same people toasting the organisation that killed members of my family, it hits a very sore spot.

    I understand fully the need for civility and intelligent discussion in our world, but sometimes anger can have it's purpose, especially if it can help people see the extent of their ignorant comments and actions.
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    Oct 22, 2012 2:22 AM GMT
    thatirishbastard saidI'm curious as to what the RJ community would have done in this sort of situation. I'm going to say right out that I'm not intending this as a rant of any kind or to complain. So sorry ahead of time if it comes of like that.

    I grew up in Ireland, and have been living in the States for ten years. However, it wasn't until I got to Chicago that I truly interacted with the Irish American community. We really haven't rubbed off well. As someone who immersed himself in Irish culture all his life, I resent that the commercialisation of Irish cutlure by the Americans as well as their labeling themselves as 'Irish.' But that's besides the point.

    I was at a local pub with some of my mates a few weeks ago. We were having some good craic, the musicians and dancers who gather always have a grand time. It was in a collegey part of town, and there were a group of young Americans near us who were getting rowdy. Most of them were dressed in green for the 'half way to St. Paddy's Day' celebration. They were getting their Irish pride on, shouting "Kiss My Irish Ass!" and the like, pretending to fight one another and doing little Irish jigs. Ridiculous and grating? Yes. But I've learned to ignore it.

    But it wasn't until they started making toasts to the Irish Republican Army and shouting "Up the RA!" that me ire began rising. For those of you who don't know, the IRA and their opponents the UVF caused thousands of innocent deaths in Ireland and Britain in the decades of the 20th Century that we call 'The Troubles." The IRA committed terrorist acts and assassinations with the goal of driving British forces out of Ireland. Even those of us who fully support a united Ireland, myself included, see the RA as a group of malcontents and murderers who succeeded in doing nothing but filling our gutters with blood. My grandfather's brother and his wife were killed inadvertantly in an IRA attack.

    So when an Irishman hears an American saying "Up the IRA" it's like an Afghani woman hearing 'Hell Yeah Al Qaeda!" Many Irish Americans like supporting the IRA because it makes them feel like rebels and badasses without the consequences of being shunned or reviled for it. Those who do give the true Irish a terrible name, as people who are good for nothing but killing each other and fighting in the streets. I don't expect many of the RJ community to understand how deep this cuts, but it does.

    So what should I have done? Tried to continue ignoring it? Shouted at them to shut the fuck up about things they can't understand? Draw a throwing knife from my boot and stick it in their table?

    I apologise if this makes me sound like a whinging bastard. That's not what I intended.


    I'm sorry that you faced ignorance and stereotype. Sadly, the group of youths who were attempting to revel in what they thought were aspects of the culture of Ireland, were in reality being quite boorish. Your culture was diminished by their ignorance. I can understand your feelings in standing by as this happened.

    The "Irish Pride" parts could have been addressed by cheerfully stating that you are from Ireland, and by then appropriately sharing genuine and authentic social dimensions of Ireland's culture as a a part of the fun. Ignorance would have been addressed by fun and non-confrontational "edutainment".

    When hearing the toast to the IRA, you could have certainly educated the ignorant by stating that you have experienced personal family losses at the hands of the IRA. Your message would have been quite a sobering revelation of reality. The mood in the pub would most certainly have changed. Perhaps on another day, when others are sober, you might have a conversation with your mates about that evening and how you were feeling about the toasts. You might have the opportunity to educate your own mates about the IRA so that your own mates never make an ignorant, insensitive toast.

    I'm not sure what you did in the moment, however I hope you "took the high road" and handled the situation with dignity and tact.

    Welcome to the United States! We're not all arseholes here. I hope you will give us a chance to show you our best.

    Aloha and Be Well!
    Alan