Gather round, children. It’s time for this smart-ass hippie’s annual St. Patrick’s Day diatribe.
I know – the last name is “Lieberman”, which doesn’t automatically make people picture my roots in Ireland, but I was adopted…, and (seriously) look at my picture up there somewhere. There’s a nice Jewish boy trapped in an Irish Catholic body.
I actually find St. Patrick’s Day offensive. Not the holiday or it’s deeply religious significance, not the whole story about the snakes, but the way other people celebrate it. And by “other people” I mean, well – other kinds of people.
Down where I used to work we’d have all sorts of exotic looking women with heart-stopping olive and cocoa complexions I so deeply appreciate and hypnotic brown eyes that melt my spine, tracing their lineage south of the border, or to the Pacific Islands, or to Southeast Asia, dressing entirely in green for the occasion, placing green streamers around their cubicle, painting their nails green for the day, and wearing buttons with cartoon leprechauns saying “Kiss Me – I’m Irish”.
A lot of them would have plans to head over to Chili’s (how appropriate) after work where they were going to gorge themselves on green tortilla chips, green salsa and guacamole and dive headlong into a stupor fueled by either green beer or Coronas with a slice of lime.
Simply wearing a green outfit or accessories or a tie can be a nice way of showing respect (even though some might be offended by my European façade being draped in a serape or dashiki). But for some reason, especially on St. Patrick’s Day it’s a matter of “Happy holiday, my Celtic brothers and sisters! Let’s ALL get piss-your-pants wasted in reverential and loving honor of Bishop Qatrikias, the Apostle of Ireland”, and that seems, for lack of a better word, racist.
What would people think, how long would it last, how many “Diversity Training” sessions would I have been forced to attend if, on Cinco de Mayo, I showed up wearing a serape, a sombrero, huaraches, and a button saying “Besame! Soy Latino!!” with a little cartoon of Speedy Gonzalez on it, and then announced my plans to go home after work, jump over the backyard fence, swim across my neighbor’s pool, pull weeds out of their garden and insist they pay me in cash and put me on their health plan?
(Parenthetically, as you can see, the Diversity Training manual we had didn’t have a single picture of a fifty-year-old male of Northern European descent. My feelings were hurt, not that it matters.)
Is designating March 17th of every year a national tie-one-on regalia second only to New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday any less insulting than that? No. It isn’t. Simple enough of a question to answer honestly if one is even remotely familiar with the Lord’s “Golden Rule”, the biblical principal most often ignored when it seems to get in the way of having fun.
I shared that out loud at work when someone asked me why I wasn’t wearing green. During the ensuing conversation I was subsequently advised that it was “impossible” for one of those aforementioned “Others” to be racist against honkies / paddies / gringos OR for a woman to be sexist against a man. Very valuable lesson in sociology learned: it’s only funny when the punch line is about the other guy.
And if the other guy is not one of a “protected minority”, it’s absolutely hysterical AND entirely permissible.
AND both politically correct and encouraged AND merchandised.
What comes next?
We spend Oktoberfest taking over our neighbors’ property and lock them in their garage with the car running?
On Bastille Day we just turn over all our possessions to our meanest, nastiest, most intimidating neighbor?
We spend the eight days of Chanukah walking into high-scale retail outlets offering twenty cents on the dollar for the most expensive items?
Nino Aquino Day we all drive twenty-five miles per hour in the fast lane on the Interstate and change lanes without turn signals?
Or on Columbus Day we plant a car bomb under our most annoying neighbor’s Prius?
Spend Dr. King’s birthday with thirty friends, barbecuing ribs, knocking back forties, blasting hip-hop from our chopped-and-dropped rides and talking with each other at the top of our lungs?
With the melting pot that is America, we might have to spend the Fourth of July doing a little bit of all of the above. Then go hunting squirrels and rabbits with an AR-15 and a hundred-round mag of Teflon-coated hollow points in honor of the Second Amendment…
and make rude remarks about anybody who is different than us either genetically, ethnically or (what are they thinking?) intentionally and wants to maintain a mere modicum of their own cultural identity?
Hey… if we’re going to celebrate one holiday that isn’t even one of our own in an insulting and offensive manner, why not commit ourselves to it entirely and do it for all of them?
Sure, it can be hateful and even racist, but …
in spite of some of the modestly minor progress remains, that’s the Amurcan way.
Behind the pristine curtain of Emma Lazarus Christianity, we’re still more than just a wee bit racist.
Hell… we’ll even take it out on the wrong Western Europeans.