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An Irish-American Reader Complains About Fulford's "Ganging Up On America."
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From: Bowen Smith
James Fulford's "Ganging Up on America" does your fine website and the immigration reform movement a disservice by spiking its criticism of Martin Scorsese's new film with several vicious and ahistorical put-downs of poor Irish immigrants.
It ought to be possible to debunk the politically-correct mythologies distorting Mr. Scorsese's historical vision without compounding them with ones that dishonor the campaign for more sensible immigration policy.
Mr. Fulford's claim that the Irish were "taking over city hall- making New York a byword for corrupt government" before the Draft Riots of July 1863 is absurd. Any serious student of New York history knows that both City Hall and the Democrats' Tammany Wigwam were firmly in the grip of Anglo-Americans during this period and would be for years to come. These native Americans hardly needed instruction from the politically-inexperienced and long-disenfranchised Irish peasantry in the fine arts of graft and vote fraud. Give Anglo-Saxon ingenuity its due!
Mr. Fulford's sniggering aside that rioting "was considered an 'agreeable recreation'" in Ireland delivers the full insult but the lesser part of the truth. The long tradition of faction fighting between rival clans and villages in rural Ireland was treated with a wink by the occupying British authorities, who were no doubt relieved that this manly vigor wasn't exercised in their direction. The Irish fault here, from a Washingtonian or Jeffersonian perspective, is that it took them so long to organize this taste for combat against the occupation. Guilty as charged.
The talents of Mr. Fulford might be better directed by focusing on converting more Americans of Irish-Catholic ancestry to the patriotic cause of immigration reform. Set the old, reflexive tribal antagonisms aside and invite us into your gang. We'll fight like hell if you ask nicely.
James Fulford replies: Er…would it help if I said that some of my best friends are Irish? Or that I regularly listen to Dennis Day and Bing Crosby, and Lorenna McKennitt?
A lot of good has come out of the Irish presence in America, and, as Bowen Smith has written, and we have noted, Irish-Americans were preeminent among the heroes of 9/11. In fact, while the (mainly) Irish mobs were wrecking the city in 1863, the large Irish contingents in the police and state troops were fighting with, according to Theodore Roosevelt, "as much courage and steadfast loyalty as their associates of native origin." The National Guard Colonel I mentioned who was tortured to death? Colonel O'Brien. The mob paused to let a priest gave him the Last Rites.
The value of Irish immigration is ably defended by the Emerald Isle Immigration Center. But it's VDARE.COM's job to point out the facts. As for vicious and ahistorical, we try to be "vicious" or at least ruthless, but we try to avoid the ahistorical. So, for the record, Boss Tweed's ring (in the 1863-1870 period) included Peter B. Sweeny as head of the Department of Public Works, and Richard Connolly as comptroller.
We're happy (and relieved) that so many Irish-Americans are prominent in the fight for immigration reform.
January 02, 2003