It’s St. Patrick’s Day and in the Washington Post, an immigrant enthusiast woman named Carly Goodman [Tweet her], author of Dreamland: America’s Immigration Lottery in an Age of Restrictionv has an op-ed called St Patrick’s Day reminds us of the importance of welcoming immigrants | The Irish have been among the most powerful advocates for immigration [March 17, 2023].
This is full of standard stuff: claiming the 1924 restriction was racist, although advantaging the Irish because they could “they could lay a claim to ‘whiteness.’” The 1965 Immigration Act was supposedly anti-racist, although in 1968, the Irish-American Ancient Order of Hibernians was complaining that it disadvantaged them, by ending the quota system and privileging immigrants with an American family member—which is what we now know as “chain migration.”
Various Irish-American pols, some but not all named Kennedy, tried to game the immigration system in a pro-Irish way. That’s how we got Ted Kennedy’s infamous “Diversity Lottery.”
But the Irish are white—and that’s “unsavory.”
The argument that “issuing more visas to the Irish would help create immigrant ‘diversity’” according to Goodman ”contained an unspoken, unsavory element—it resonated in part because Irish immigrants were White, and many criticized the episode as being a “veiled’ move away from ’current immigration source regions,’ meaning Asia and Latin America, as future INS commissioner Doris Meissner would write in an op-ed at the end of 1990.”
Goodman’s cheerful message: Irish-American political logrolling in favor of visas for Irish immigrants has in the past (John F. and Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act and Teddy’s “Diversity Lottery”) and will continue in the present to result in lots more non-white immigration.
Can't load tweet https://twitter.com/car1ygoodman/status/1636713869551837185: Sorry, you are not authorized to see this status.
She ends her article by saying “Sympathy for the Irish once opened up meaningful access to others around the world to come to the United States. Perhaps it can again.”
The problem for Irish-Americans is that they are white—really white, not just laying a claim to whiteness—and mass non-white immigration is displacing them.
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, for example, took the Congressional seat of nine-term Irish-American Congressman Joe Crowley, whose mother came from County Armagh, whose father was an NYPD detective, and whose uncle Walter was a New York City councilman.
Quote from Crowley after losing to AOC: "I can’t help that I was born white."
The Irish are a success story in America, and while not, historically, an unmixed good, they are, as I said last year, now part of America’s white majority, and would be foolish to support their own displacement.
When I was young, there was a Disney movie called The Happiest Millionaire, about the union of two old-stock American families, the Biddles of Philadelphia and the Dukes of South Carolina, based on Cordelia Drexel Biddle’s memoir My Philadelphia Father. I wrote this up in a post called Disney On Irish Immigration—YouTube For St. Patrick’s Day.
The Irish character of John Lawless (played by Englishman Tommy Steele) was apparently added to give color.
Below, Steele declares he’ll always be "as Irish as Irish stew" but "truly as American as Casey At The Bat."
This is the harmless, lovable version of Irish immigrant history, and there’s some truth to that, although anyone who thinks that Mexican immigrants are going to turn into Bing Crosby should give their head a shake, but there’s another side to the same history, in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, where the Irish-American Amsterdam Vallon (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) says
Everyday there are more of us coming, streaming off the ships… I hear fifteen thousand Irish a week into New York alone, and we’re afraid of the Natives? Put all of us together, and we’re not a gang, we’re an army. All our people need is one spark to wake them up.
One of the earliest things I wrote for the site was a piece called The Camp Of St. Patrick [March 17, 2001], pointing out how much like the Camp Of The Saints the Famine Irish exodus was for the receiving countries in North America.
There are memorials in various places (like Grosse Île, Quebec) to the dead, who didn’t die of famine, but of cholera, which they brought with them. Wikipedia’s article on cholera outbreaks and pandemics says
Cholera hit Ireland in 1849 and killed many of the Irish Famine survivors, already weakened by starvation and fever. In 1849, cholera claimed 5,308 lives in the major port city of Liverpool, England, an embarkation point for immigrants to North America, and 1,834 in Hull, England. An outbreak in North America took the life of former U.S. President James K. Polk. Cholera, believed spread from Irish immigrant ship(s) from England, spread throughout the Mississippi river system, killing over 4,500 in St. Louis and over 3,000 in New Orleans. Thousands died in New York, a major destination for Irish immigrants.
However, the survivors became part of America’s white majority. (They fought on both sides of the Civil War.) In Alien Nation, VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow mentioned 19th century anti-cheap labor activist Denis Kearney (right), who fought Chinese immigration.
Brimelow wrote “[A]n Irish immigrant, Dennis Kearney, was a leader of the agitation that halted Chinese immigration into California. (His—probably mythical—slogan: ’Americay for Americans, Begorrah!’)”
The Irish in America are part of the American nation, but still in their own way.
In spite of our site’s Anglo-Saxon roots, we wish the Irish well, and some of them even wish us well.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone, and here’s what we’ve written about St. Patrick’s Day past March 17ths.