Everyone knows about the New York Post cartoon that caused so much controversy last Wednesday. It has angered African Americans across the country. I know what you’re thinking, yet another story about that cartoon. Well it’s not my fault things happen a day or two after my column comes out. Even so, no one’s talking about how this is offensive to my people.
The cartoon shows a dead chimp after being shot by two cops, who proceed to make gleeful cracks about the stimulus bills, as cops are wont to do. This is offensive to black people, according to people like Rev. Al Sharpton, because they have been portrayed as primates for hundreds of years. Plus, a man who is half black just happens to be in the White House supporting the stimulus bills.
You know who else has been portrayed as apes? The Irish. It’s not something people talk about because people don’t want to get our Irish up, but yes, for centuries, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s in the U.S., Irish Americans and Irish immigrants were frequently drawn as a sub-human species in political cartoons. How tragic for this cartoon to come out just before March, better known as Irish History Month. Irish is the new black.
This isn’t the only example of negative stereotypes of my people, Planet of the Apes, Curious George and Koko the gorilla–all thinly veiled racist ventures against the Irish. Any depictions of monkeys and apes in art? Yep, more Irish-hating garbage.
We Irish are often portrayed as stupid drunkards with funny little beards hailing from a land of wealthy, rainbow-dwelling midgets. That is just not true, and to show our fellow Americans how horrible that stereotype is, we invite everyone to come drink to excess with us once a year. We even teach them to sing our songs about being sad because you’re in love, being happy because your hero died in war against the English, and of course, songs about whisky.
We have made great strides as a people in shedding that stereotype of the boozing, irresponsible Irishman, mostly with the help of our great cultural leaders like Sen. Ted Kennedy (you know, one of those members of Congress writing stimulus bills).
Another stereotype: all Irishmen are police officers. Two such police officers just happened to have shot the chimp. Great, thanks Post, now you’re portraying the Irish-on-Irish crime that has plagued our people since the potato famine. With each generation we try to wipe that image from our culture and come together as one, but then the Boston Celtics and the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish have to come in and ruin all of that for us.
This political cartoon makes me sick not only as an Irishman, but as an American. We don’t have big, round noses like the policemen in it, nor do we have opposable toes like the chimp. We are ordinary, respectable citizens just like you.
And no, it is still not OK for you to use the word “paddy.” The P-word is for our use only, it’s what we call each other.