Terrorist, Freedom Fighter or Just Plain Ignorant?

Posted: March 9, 2011 in Discrimination, Disgusted in AZ, Non-AZ

Rep. Peter King of New York House Homeland Security Committee who will soon hold hearings on American Muslim radicalization was motivated to begin these hearings because he took umbrage to an earlier report released by the Department of Homeland Security regarding the threat of right-wing terrorism in the U.S.  Rep. King spoke to MSNBC and said the Department:

“…has never put out a report talking about look out for mosques. Look out for Islamic terrorists in our country. Look out for the fact that very few Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police. If they sent out a report saying that, there would be hell to pay.”

Evidently Rep. King felt that the report on the threat from right-wing terrorists was politically motivated. However, facts tell a different story (look here, here, and here ).   In essence, if you look at the majority of civilian casualties resulting from attacks on U.S. soil the majority of them have been from individuals or groups associated with conservative and even Christian political beliefs. Indeed, threats from right-wing groups against elected public officials and government workers have increased alarmingly since Pres. Obama was elected.

Now it has come out that Rep. King was and still is a vocal supporter of the IRA in Ireland. This is an example of how one person’s “terrorist” is another person’s “freedom fighter”. There are a ton of politicians in the Northeast U.S. that had and have relationships with the IRA in Ireland. Like so many politicians, he was probably trying to appeal to the white descendants of Irish immigrants in his district. What’s truly unfortunate is that he and those descendants have forgotten their own history.

In the US, the protestant Irish started calling themselves Scotch-Irish to distinguish themselves from the Catholic Irish because there was so much prejudice but even then they were not entirely able to distinguish themselves.  Like most immigrants to the U.S., most Irish families, regardless of religion, didn’t gain acceptance until the 2nd or 3rd generation in the U.S. –mostly when they lost their identifying accents and once they’re last names became more prevalent in society.  The Irish, unlike Blacks, didn’t stand out because of their skin color.  An Irishman can be mistaken for a German and vice versa.  This, obviously, aids in integration.

However, the newly immigrated Irishman was treated little better than Blacks.  It wasn’t uncommon to see comics in the newspapers showing the Irish as lazy, drunk, and villainous….not very different from comics of black people.   In the 19th Century U.S. the term “smoked Irishman” was a slur used for Blacks but meant as an insult to both African-Americans and the Irish. Another 19th Century slur against the Irish was Wigger, or White Nigger.

Prejudice against Irish Catholics peaked in the mid-1850s with the Know Nothing Movement. Will today’s “know nothing movement”, aka the Tea Party, turn against the Irish? No, they are made up of many Irish-Americans and the acceptance of the Irish in the U.S. is complete.  However, that doesn’t mean we should forget.  I’m of Irish descent (through the surnames of families Shanahan and McMurrough) amongst European blood lines and born in Generation X.  I haven’t forgotten my history lessons, why has Rep. King?

Peter King, and anyone of Irish descent who supports him, is not only an hypocritical bigot (which by definition implies ignorance), they’re also forgetful bigots.

PS:  I’m alive, just blogging when time permits.  I promise to return to daily blogging in a week or so.


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