Newsweek magazine has just published an openly racist anti-Irish article. The good news is that it is being pilloried across the Internet. Perhaps, in light of this, there is little need for me to comment. But still…
The piece laments the passing of the days when “the biggest names, faces, and voices on television” were “all sober, serious Americans—and all Protestants too.” “Why,” the author asks, “has the ascent of a bunch of people who in an earlier period might have been called Micks drawn no notice at all?”
“Micks,” after all, are not sober or serious. Right?
The author laments this, at the same time, as showing the supposed “collapse” of Irish-American culture, its “drying up and blowing away.”
Isn’t that odd? The fact that Irish Catholics have become more prominent is the death of Irish Catholic culture?
And his problem with Sean Hannity is that he “makes $29 million a year: his ilk care a lot about money, never a major priority of the older Irish America, where it was fatal to get above yourself.”
In other words, Irish culture is apparently supposed to be poor and powerless. It is not right to rise above your station.
Worse, in his eyes, the Irish have ceased to be reliably Democratic voters. It is their ethnic duty, it seems, to vote Democrat.
The author blames it all on Joe McCarthy. “All of them can be traced to Joe McCarthy’s rise to stardom.”
Joe McCarthy the leader of Irish America? My first reaction was to realize for the first time that, yes, Joe McCarthy must have been Irish.
Granted, he was ethnically Irish, and not the villain he is often painted on the left to be, but he was never seen in his day by the Irish or anyone else as an Irish political leader. He was a Midwestern farm boy; the Irish in the US were resolutely urban. His constituency was German-American. And he was Republican when most Irish Americans were Democrats.
Far more significant as Irish political leaders in the 20th century were Al Smith, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. In the second tier, maybe Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Eugene McCarthy, and a selection of longtime big city mayors. Joe McCarthy, by comparison, is barely a blip. If you want to point to a leader of Irish conservatism, the obvious figure, next to Reagan, is William F. Buckley Jr., often considered the father of the modern American right.
There is an obvious reason why Irish Catholics in the US have moved from left to right over the past fifty or sixty years. Remarkably, the author does not mention it. Over the last fifty or sixty years, the left has turned against the Catholic Church and its values; most notably on the issue of abortion. Why is it surprising if, in reaction, many Catholics turned against the left? It is not just the Irish: you see the same movement among Italians, and there is a fair representation of Italian-Americans as well as Irish-Americans on Fox News: Neil Cavuto, Andrew Napolitano, Jeanine Pirro.
The author equates being Irish with “a talent for invective,” and accuses Irish commentators of a “sneering, baiting, biting style.” Yet he calls Bill O’Reilly a “beady-eyed Grand Inquisitor” and refers to “Beefy Hannity.” Steve Bannon is "dissolute but scary." I guess it is just the Irish who must not use invective, then?
Not that I have ever heard such invective from Bill O’Reilly or Megyn Kelly or Steve Bannon. Possibly Sean Hannity.