I was pretty amazed the other day when I heard a St. Patricks Day ad for a local limo service boldly stating you could "party like an Irishman" in safety - just call them for a ride home.
I immediately wondered where were the PC Police when you need them! Imagine, for a moment, had a similar ethnic slur been used for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Native Americans? Why is it open season on Irish-Americans? The short statured, red-haired, pug nose, poverty stricken, dance loving, poetry spouting, alcohol loving Irish lad or lassie has been used in much the same way other ethnic stereotypes have been. Just as Native Americans can take exception to the silent, noble savage image or African-Americans the watermelon ministral image, those of Celtic ancestry take exception to this drunken and stupid stereotype.
Now, I must admit that the blood of the "auld country" runs in my veins (and my husbands). My ancestors came from such places as Athlone, County Mayo, Ulster and places we have yet to identify. My father grew up hearing the brogue still on the lips of his aged grandfather. My father was a shorter man and when he did a little jig he looked like a leprechaun! He loved to joke and have fun but drinking was not a big part of his life. The stereotype of the drunken Irishman does a dis-service to an entire people. When we traveled to Ireland a few years ago we met wonderful and fun people. They freely drank and sang songs in the pub but they did not get "drunk "- that seemed to be what the tourists did!
As we move into Spring Break it might be good to remember that getting drunk til you puke, flash people and have sex with total strangers seems to be an "American" phenomenon. Hyperpole alert: So maybe the offensive tag line should be "Party like a drunken American who hasn't a clue and uses any excuse to get soused." That would be far more accurate.
We should be more concerned about why our young people are going to vacations spots with this false idea that getting drunk is somehow such a fun thing to do (vomiting gustily on streets, off balaconies or at the porcelin headrest and suffering from massive headaches are just a laugh a minute!). That we do not try more to curb this odd behavior is probably a symptom revealing something far wrong in our larger culture.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to you...and drink safely and wisely my friends!