Monday, March 21, 2011

What's On Parade?

In Dublin and Cork, where actual Irish folk live, LGBT groups are welcome to march in the annual St. Patrick's Day parades. Likewise, in much of America, that's the case. That includes the second-largest such event, in Savannah, a parade and week of doings much larger...and jollier...than that in South Boston.

Notably, it in in Manhattan and South Boston were parade organizers have closed their minds into walls, their hearts into cinders, their fingers into fists. Unlike the real Irish, the self-identified guardians of what's Irish in this country seemed to have missed the past 50 years of human and humane development.

In NYC, it is the Ancient Order of Hibernians and in Southie, the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston that organize the parades and enforce the exclusionary rules. After the later won a unanimous SCOTUS decision 16 years ago letting them discriminate, they relish telling civil-rights supporters that LGBT folk are welcome to march in their parades. Of course, they can't march as a group unlike the 100 or so other groups or identify themselves as anything other than of Irish extraction. The argument mirrors those who say gays can marry in their states, so long as they marry an opposite sex person. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

The hypocrisy and irony are well noted. In Boston's Bay Windows, for example, Rev. Irene Monroe gets into this, including citations of how odd it would be that Irish-Americans as well as African-Americans so eagerly discriminate when they have been discriminated against so long and so often. Also, such hostility is respects neither the legacy of Christianity nor of American freedoms, which those groups allegedly follow and honor. Likewise, a wrap-up piece in last an Edge last year notes the overt and atavistic discrimination in such parades. Moreover, poll after poll of Bostonians, New Yorkers, Catholics and others make it clear that the vast majority of us have transcended anti-LGBT feelings in personal fears as well as discrimination in jobs, housing and more.

In Southie, this year was the first separate-and-unequal parade. The second comprising mostly Veterans for Peace and LGBT Irish-American groups had to follow the main parade and hour later, literally following the street sweepers. (...visions of following the elephants with a shovel...) Of course, most of the crowd came for the bagpipers, step dancers and such, and left sparse spectatorship.

Yet, to get a flavor of the bitter residual counterpoint, head to the Boston Herald. There a story on the two parades got at last count 119 remaining comments in two days. The paper removed the most obscene and inflammatory ones. Yet the pattern in these is clear enough. While the rest of Boston is pretty much let's-leave-each-other-in-peace, the dozens of Herald regular comments show the city at its most hateful, least rational, most puerile, and least Christian. I won't cite example here.

The true oddment is how out of step with the real Irish such folk and such parade organizers are. I'm certainly not the first to note many times how socially backward and slow to advance Americans can be socially. An oddment with the NYC/Boston situation is that the regressive organizers are no longer run by the WWII/Korean era folk, rather by their children. They now have marginalized themselves, while insisting they'll never change.

Well, the world has. Even here, we follow Canada, Europe, and Catholic countries in Latin America as well. Most of America has even followed Ireland in St. Patrick's Day parade traditions. Maybe the old guys in these two throwback cities really will have to die. There's no indication that they are praying for guidance or even paying attention to Irish and Irish-Americans are up to — that would be fun, fellowship, and accepting Irish heritage rather than promoting pseudo-Irish hostility.

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