The vexed question of what is the white race; and, Have the Irish been good for America?
Race currently being one of the main discussion topics on your website, I would like to suggest a sub-topic. What is the white race?
I ask that because there has never been a scientific consensus on the matter. In Anglo-Saxon countries, the most common standard was the “one drop rule,” which stated that any individual that had one ancestor not of pure Caucasian origin would not be considered as white. By that rule, whites would be solely Caucasians and their pure descendants. The Nazis also had their own standard, much stricter, that divided up the white race itself into various sub-groups. And the Spanish and the Portuguese usually consider caramel skinned people as being white, which (as I have seen with my own eyes) are frequently considered as non-white in the United States.
Is there any particular standard to define what is the white race that you advocate as being correct?
My first reaction is, it’s such a vexed issue, and really unresolvable, that I don’t know that anything is to be gained by going into it. Though I suppose that some clarity could be gained simply by identifying the various issues, even if we can’t resolve them. Knowing what one doesn’t know is an important form of knowledge. For example, does white mean European, or does it mean just northern European? Or does it mean all Europeans other than very southern, dark Europeans? (And what is the position of the White Nationalists on that point?) If white means all Europeans, are Jews white, or nonwhite? (Well, we know what the White Nationalists say about that.) Or are some Jews white, and some not white? And what about Arabs and Indians? Obviously we don’t call them white, yet they are Caucasian.
I think my own personal criterion is: if a person is basically of European type, then I consider him white. But again, there are people from, say, the Balkans who feel quite different from other Europeans. But still, overall, we would consider them white.
Years ago, in response to the question whether Jews are white, a VFR commenter had a shrewd response. He said, when witnesses are asked by police to describe someone, including his race, what the witnesses say is the normal and conventional criterion of racial identity. So for example, a witness would describe an Italian or a Jew as “white.” There’s nothing else he would describe him as. But a witness would not describe a Pakistani as white, and probably not an Iranian either. He would describe them as “Middle Eastern” or something like that.
At the same time, whiteness is not the only criterion for assimilability. People may fall under the category of white, yet still be so different from the host population that their large-scale immigration is not desirable. The Irish are white, there’s no one whiter. But the large scale immigration of the Irish into England about a hundred years ago, with their historical intense resentment of that country, was not good for England.
Ed H. writes:
If we phrased the question differently we could ask “What is white culture?” But we would only come up with something like “I know it when I see it.” Which really isn’t such a bad criterion. Jared Taylor came up with some examples. When you hear about a man fathering 30 children with 11 different women you are not shocked to hear it’s the behavior of a black man. Likewise if you hear about man who spends his Sundays reading Anthony Trollope you know that such a man must invariably be white. Often race and culture separate, such as you might run across blacks who enjoy bird watching, stamp collecting or trips to a museum, but you sense how improbable that is. I can attest to the this last phenomenon,
I live in Washington DC, a city that is 85 percent black, and I have never seen a black in the National Museum of Art or the Library of Congress unless on a school trip, or the security guard at the door.
That’s pretty remarkable if you think about it. A veritable ocean of black people that freely mill and swarm everywhere, but which stops abruptly at the threshold of any institute of higher culture.
Ditto the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m sure there must have been exceptions, but I can’t specifically remember them.
You wrote: “And what is the position of the White Nationalists on that point?”
If you want to hijack any discussion on a White Nationalist site you bring this up. From what I’ve seen there are some White Nationalists who rigorously insist on Northern Europeans as the true bearers of whiteness. They usually demand a scientific measure of someone’s race, it cannot be done by casual observation.
Sage McLaughlin writes:
You remark that, “the large scale immigration of the Irish into England about a hundred years ago, with their historical intense resentment of that country, was not good for England.”
I would add that Irish immigration to America was probably a net negative for the U.S. Now, I am Irish and very grateful to have been born here. Still, I have to call it as I see it. The statist sclerosis of the northeastern states is in significant measure a direct consequence of the massive influx of poor, ill-educated, unskilled Irish who not only added very little to the country’s stock of real human capital, but also were a bad cultural fit, being neither Protestant nor possessed of a competitive American spirit. Schools in Ireland focused heavily on the liberal arts rather than on business or the physical sciences, which was one reason their graduates were discriminated against in hiring by businesses in Northern Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom, and unlike the Jews who immigrated in several relatively controlled stages, they carried with them precious little in the way of a tradition of enterprise and innovation. Say what you will, but America is hardly a nation of poets.
When attempting to do research on my family’s history, my father found that it was made more difficult by a noticeable absence of tombstones. When he inquired about this, he discovered that the Irish in the areas of Massachusetts where my family lived commonly preferred to spend whatever money was available for a burial on the cheapest possible materials, and invested the saved money in huge amounts of liquor for the inevitable wake. Living proof that the opposite of “funny” is not “sad,” my Irish great grandfather was killed one morning while drunk out of his skull, driving a delivery carriage and attempting to beat a train, as he had done every morning for years, while sneering at the engineer as he whipped his horses over the tracks just in time (the old engineer won in the end, naturally).
In short, the old saying that “the Irish are the blacks of Europe” really has something to it, if we take the comparison to mean that they are incorrigibly dysfunctional and self-destructive, crying unceasingly about how discriminated against they have been, forever exaggerating their achievements (their real talents being mostly confined, for some reason, to producing clever rhymes), instantly descending to the bottom rung of whatever social environment into which they are inserted, and all while doing everything in their power to perpetuate their own problems. The world is better with the Irish in it. But I daresay America could have got on fine in their absence.
Irish immigration into England is for me an odd historical snapshot to take on this subject. When it comes to the deliberate use of immigration as a weapon of cultural domination the example that springs to my mind is the Plantation of Ulster.
Stan S. writes:
Here’s my view. Who belongs to the white race is a matter of opinion, and yours is as good as mine. Even if science knew much more about the origins of various peoples than it does (as it is, I’m under the impression that each new genetics study overturns the results of the previous study), the decision of whom to include as “white” will always be arbitrary. Of course, the question would quickly become one of practical importance for all of us if racialists like Jared Taylor should—heaven forbid—ever come to power; in that event I have no doubt we should learn the answer before very long. This is why I oppose all racialism: I don’t want some thugs to be deciding, based on whatever ideas about race they are pleased to hold that moment, how much rights I shall have in my own country. This doesn’t mean that race, including blackness and whiteness, are not useful categories in some contexts. (In the context of everyday life in America “white” means little more than light-skinned non-Asian.) But the moment you start to draw sharp boundaries between races that don’t exist in fact, you are taking the concept of race too far.
This is absurd. The topic was simply what is the white race, and you basically want to ban the subject out of fear that you will be expelled from America by a racialist regime of “thugs.” Fat chance. However, since you raise the subject, it must be said: if America in the past had said to itself, as it should have said: “We are a white-majority country with a white culture, and intend to remain so,” the 1965 Immigration Act which launched us on the path to national suicide would never have been passed. California would still be a white, Republican state, instead of a permanently Democratic state. Many other states would not have transitioned or be in the process of transitioning to permanent Democratic Party status. We would not now be living in a racial-socialist regime run for the sake of blacks and browns, and facing a far more horrible future of ever-increasing racial socialism. We would not now have ongoing black-on-white attacks ignored by the entire political-media system.
Stan S. writes:
I just saw your reply to my comment in the “white race” discussion. How did you deduce from my statement that who is white is “a matter of opinion” that I wished to ban the subject? I certainly did not say so in so many words. What I don’t want is the coming to power of racialists. I have given my reasons and I see nothing “absurd” in them.
You certainly did say that people should not make distinctions between races, clearly implying that the discussion should be banned. And you did say that the belief that there is a white race that can be distinguished from other races would lead directly to certain horribles.
[T]he moment you start to draw sharp boundaries between races that don’t exist in fact, you are taking the concept of race too far.
And what is the “too far” to which you are referring? There is only one “too far” in your comment. It is this:
I don’t want some thugs to be deciding, based on whatever ideas about race they are pleased to hold that moment, how much rights I shall have in my own country.
And by the way, if White Nationalists (not of the Jared Taylor type, but of the Majority Rights type) came to power, then I as an ethnic Jew I would certainly be classified as non-white and be expelled from the country. Yet I don’t think that the discussion of who is white should be discouraged for that reason.
Also, I just checked, and, as I thought, Jared Taylor rejects the term White Nationalist.
Kalim Kassam writes:
Not too long ago I had occasion to meet Jared Taylor. Since he had recently written the book on *White Identity” I asked him whether I was white (I am of north Indian descent). His baffling answer: “You’re white if you want to be”.
I don’t know what he means by that.
Laura Wood writes:
At first, I thought Mr. McLaughlin was joking when he said the Irish have been a “net negative” for America, but then I realized he was serious and was providing some characteristically Irish self-deprecating analysis. Some of his statements are truly fantastic and I have to ask, other than the absence of tombstones in his family, what evidence there is in America today of this severe lack of achievement among the Irish, whose only real skill is to compose rhymes?
There were disgusting nineteenth century Irish American ghettos, but even then most of the Irish worked as manual laborers. By the 1970s, descendants of the Irish who had emigrated during the potato famine had long since demonstrated a “competitive spirit” and overwhelmingly moved into the middle and upper middle class, obtaining, according to statistics in Andrew Greeley’s book That Most Distressful Nation, “an occupational distribution similar to that of the Northern urban Anglo-Saxon Protestants.” It’s true, there aren’t many extremely wealthy Irish Americans, but does the fact that there are few Irish billionaires mean they are “incorrigibly dysfunctional?” There are also very few Irish here who are extremely poor, even though Mr. McLaughlin maintains that the Irish automatically inhabit the lowest rung wherever they are. If the Irish, even though they started out as coal miners, construction workers, railroad workers, policemen, and factory workers, and then moved on to become self-employed tradesmen, teachers, lawyers, politicians, doctors, priests, journalists, and businessmen and to gain respectability in America’s suburbs, country clubs, and colleges, “added very little to the country’s stock of real human capital,” may I ask who added something significant?
The liberalism of the Irish today is another issue and does seem to be partly caused by resentment. Even so, I have a hard time concluding that the Irish have been in general a poor “cultural fit” for this country.
James P. writes:
Ironically enough, E. Michael Jones argues that what Sage McLaughlin calls the “statist sclerosis of the northeastern states” is due to the WASP elites bringing blacks to the North in order to break up what the WASPs viewed as politically dangerous Catholic enclaves. In this view, the Irish were the victims, not the villains.
My wife’s family came from one of those Irish enclaves that was destroyed—Detroit—and I will note that her father and two uncles all studied the hard sciences and became engineers. They, at least, inarguably added to the country’s stock of human capital. Irish-Americans are not all as stupid, useless, and destructive as Teddy Kennedy and Joe Biden!
Patrick H. writes:
I’m not entirely with Sage McLaughlin on the subject, but I do think his assessment of the Irish as a net loss to America can be defended.
- The Irish instantly formed a large and troublesome underclass.
- The Irish exhibited the classic underclass dysfunctions to a high degree, including gangs, violence, drug (alcohol) abuse, illegitimate births, disrespect for education and business, and more.
- The Irish formed the first real ghettoes in America.
- The Irish carried their historical grievances into contemporary politics.
- The Irish were the first self-identified group of “virtuous victims,” and were therefore the founders of today’s ethnic grievance industry.
- The Irish elected corrupt Big Men, even when their corruption was revealed.
- The Irish congregated in government jobs, and achieved middle class status that way.
- The Irish had great gifts of oratory and wordplay, and used those gifts to achieve a level of political influence far beyond what their cultural, economic, and intellectual contributions would otherwise have justified.
- The Irish were so enchanted by their own blarney, they lost contact with reality and became the most practiced and conscienceless liars the country had produced until another group replaced them in that regard.
- And last and absolutely the opposite of least, all of these traits culminated in the ultimate Irish contribution to America … Ted Kennedy.
I rest Sage McLaughlin’s case.
(And I’m Irish.)
I take no personal position on this issue, as I haven’t thought about it enough. But I just want to point out that the topic of the impact of large-scale Irish immigration on Britain (not on the U.S.) has been discussed in the past at VFR, though more by commenters than by me. See “How the Irish in Britain undermine British nationhood”; see this discussion where an English commenter argues that Irish immigrants have driven British politics to the left; and see the follow-up, “Was VFR’s discussion about the Irish in England bigoted and hypocritical?”
Rick Darby (of Reflecting Light
I’ve never realized it until recently, but I’m prejudiced against the Irish and Irish Americans. I admit it’s more a prejudice than a rational view; I’ve enjoyed the company of some individual Irish Americans; but still …
I’m tired of a people whose national holiday no longer has anything to do with a revered saint and is all about public drunkenness.
I’m tired of their proud belief in their own martyrdom—the “No Irish Need Apply” thing.
I’m tired of their hatred of Protestants, Yankees, and British. The British did treat Ireland badly in many ways, but they weren’t the Nazi-like brutes the Irish make out. Many British politicians and private individuals tried to alleviate the Potato Famine; sorry they couldn’t work miracles.
The fact that their political culture could produce a gangster clan like the Kennedys, culminating in Teddy the Groper/Drunk/Race Replacer, is evidence enough that the Irish have been more of a debit than any possible past, present, or future asset.
Damn, it sure feels good to speak out for prejudice!
Here is an article about the area formally known as Swampoodle. It was a lawless Irish shantytown, a home to the construction workers who built Washington D.C. It was a police no-go zone rife with disease, crime, and prostitution. In 1907 it was scraped over and filled in for the building of Union Station.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 11, 2012 09:50 AM | Send