March 17, 2010

Divisive St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I posted the following on Facebook:"The problem is that St. Patrick's Day, in its current form—identity politics—has been having quite the opposite effect. It excludes. It estranges the very cultures it purports to integrate, by overemphasizing rather than de-emphasizing the categories that keep us from seeing each other as human beings.

"And only by seeing each other as unique, irreducibly complex individuals rather than as prototypes of gay, Asian American, bourgeois masculinity or straight, white, working-class femininity and so on—can we avoid the very separatist, clannish hatreds that are endemic to fascism."
This led to the following exchanges:You really think so? Why St. Patrick's Day as opposed to NA Heritage Month? Or do you think that of both of them?No, I was being sarcastic. This posting is a direct quote from a 2001 op/ed piece by Norah Vincent. But her subject was multiculturalism and events like NA heritage month, not St. Patrick's Day. I merely substituted to make a point. <g>

I could run the same posting on Dead White Founders' Day (July 4), Dead White Italian Explorer's Day (Oct. 12), or Dead White Pilgrims' Day (Thanksgiving). Why are some cultural and historical celebrations okay but not others? Why is it that only dead-white history gets a protest-free pass?

St. Patrick's Day is merely the prime example of how white cultural celebrations are accepted as the norm. And how minority cultural celebrations are deemed divisive or controversial. That was the point of this posting.Actually, I see this day as quite the opposite. It unites people in wearing green and drinking (usually) beer in honor of the guy who brought Catholicism to Ireland. Perhaps, the Irish have got the fix to "holiday" woah--drink and make merry. 8-).You could say that about any ethnic celebration: that it unites people in a common cause and common activities. But many people don't say that about minority holidays. Why not?I see, and I agree with your point.For more on holidays, see Rough Seas for Columbus Day and Change Columbus Day or Thanksgiving?