Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Fighting Irish

Friday’s newspaper reads like an obituary of Western civilization. Every article on the front page is elegiac. Four photos depict Trump’s budget priorities, the winners and losers. The air we breathe and Arts which sustain us must suffer so that weaponry and border agents can add to their already bloated coffers.

It strikes me that we spend far too much time diagnosing and denouncing the president. Each blabber and blurt, however delusional, becomes a red herring whose scent is immediately sniffed by MSNBC and sautéed for endless hours while Congress is busy defunding every mark of social progress for the past half century.

This is not so much Trump’s budget. It is the wish-list of Republicans since FDR. The logical extension of laissez-faire economics articulated by Goldwater, popularized by Reagan and now coming to fruition. Ayn Rand lives. The soulless and simplistic manifesto of Greed is Good, appears to be our new creed.

Friday was also St. Patrick’s Day. This has always been, for me, an occasion to wear something green in honor of Guinness beer, my favorite writers and that brogue which has always charmed me. However this year it might also be an occasion to call out a segment of the Irish who may well be responsible for our current tragedy.

I’m speaking of the Scots-Irish; those colonists, largely from Ulster County in northeast Ireland, who resettled on the frontier which became the Appalachians and Ozarks. Some fled from Scotland to Ireland but the Scotch name refers to their Calvinist / Presbyterian religion in flight from the Anglican Church. They were guerrilla fighters of their day battling the Crown on the Scotland / England border and then again in North Ireland.

These are the Rednecks and Hillbillies. Both terms have honorable etymologies but have come to describe a rather tribal, head-strong, combative people, rugged individuals. One might say famous for making self-destructive decisions. There are now 27 million of them. Most regard government itself as the enemy as if they are still being suppressed by that British monarchy. Maybe they didn’t get word that the Revolutionary War is over.

These are not to be confused with the Irish-Catholic who emigrated to big cities and mostly vote with Democrats. The Scot-Irish are rural people who constitute a large piece of the so-called Reagan Democrats, now populist Trump America.

They have presented us warriors, music and as many as fifteen presidents, for better or worse. They are the Bible Belt, the Tea Party and possibly the reason why the world listens while the Donald tweets. Time would be better spent trying to figure them out than on the red meat Trump throws to the media to chew on while thieves in Congress rob us of our civilization.

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