A Message to Irish-Catholic Trump Supporters

Kelly

John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, sends an important reminder to pro-Trump Catholics who think immigrants are “too lazy to get off their asses.”

Here is a taste of his piece at Commonweal:

Kelly, an Irish-American Catholic from Boston, is either oblivious to the irony of someone with his family’s background trafficking in pernicious stereotypes or knowingly tapping into the power of caricatures to dehumanize people. Irish immigrants were similarly demonized in the nineteenth century when they fled the Potato Famine. Like the parents of today’s Dreamers, they took great risks in search of a better life for their family. The Irish were viewed as so alien to the Anglo-Saxon Protestant majority they were not even regarded by many as “white.” The Boston Globe described the zeitgeist of the era in a 2016 article.

In the popular press, the Irish were depicted as subhuman. They were carriers of disease. They were drawn as lazy, clannish, unclean, drunken brawlers who wallowed in crime and bred like rats. Most disturbingly, the Irish were Roman Catholics coming to an overwhelmingly Protestant nation and their devotion to the pope made their allegiance to the United States suspect.

It was out of this context that a nativist movement flourished. By the 1850s, the Know-Nothing Party, originally called the American Party, included eight governors, more than one-hundred congressmen, and held power in half a dozen state legislatures. In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan expanded in New England and the Midwest, targeting immigrants and Catholics. A massive KKK rally in Worcester, Mass. attracted as many as fifteen-thousand people in 1924. At the end of the rally, the Klan clashed with Catholics who came to counter protest under a Knights of Columbus banner.

The politics of nativism is not new. But there is something particularly galling about Catholic members of this administration such as Kelly, and powerful members of Congress, including Speaker Paul Ryan, leading or enabling the contemporary incarnation of anti-immigrant policies and xenophobia. Ryan posted a picture on Twitter this week showing him welcoming a member of the Irish Parliament. “Even if my Gaelic is a little rough,” Ryan tweeted, “always great to connect with my roots.”

Kelly, Ryan, and others should remember those roots included immigrants from a different place but with the same dreams. In the face of craven politicians who perpetuated fear and ugly stereotypes, those immigrants persevered and made America great.

Read the entire piece here.

4 thoughts on “A Message to Irish-Catholic Trump Supporters

  1. Amazing how many people support following the laws until someone they support is found breaking the law. Then the denials begin while the facts are ignored. The real reason immigration is such a hot topic is because most of the immigrants are not white. I bet if we were deporting family members of those who say we have to follow the immigration laws, those people would want the laws to change.

    I know a way to solve the problem. Change the laws so the immigrants can stay. Problem solved easily.

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  2. We are a nation born of defying established law and conducting a military insurrection against legal authority based on the idea that inalienable rights of mankind were being violated by that legal authority – the King and Parliament. We have spent the next 225 or so years defining those inalienable rights and making coarse corrections when necessary. When black slaves were given shelter and sanctuary as they fled the fields and plantations it was against the written laws designed to bolster an oppressive system but, at least in my opinion, within a higher moral and ethical set of laws and duties (there are, of course, also pragmatic societal justifications for overturning unjust and inhumane laws).

    I would also refer you to the Nurenberg trials with respect to the “I was only obeying the law’rules/orders” justification. The history of unjust laws fills vast volumes.

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  3. We are a nation of laws. Those Irish Catholic immigrants boarded ships bound for Ellis Island and were processed in a legal manner when they arrived. When a person in America breaks the law, they should be punished, agreed? At the core of this issue is people breaking the law. Regardless if you agree with the laws or not, rules must be followed.
    Thank you,
    John Fitzgerald
    Great Grandson of an Irish Catholic Immigrant and son in law of an Irish Catholic Immigrant

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    • Amazing how many people support following the laws until someone they support is found breaking the law. Then the denials begin while the facts are ignored. The real reason immigration is such a hot topic is because most of the immigrants are not white. I bet if we were deporting family members of those who say we have to follow the immigration laws, those people would want the laws to change.

      I know a way to solve the problem. Change the laws so the immigrants can stay. Problem solved easily.

      Like

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