Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Unluck of the Irish

Last week Mayor Bloomberg, whose mayoralty has taken a few hits lately, had yet another round of bad publicity when he made a joke about drunk Irish people.


At an event for the American Irish Historical Society, he talked about how often he sees drunk Irish people hanging out windows on St. Patrick's Day. Irish people took offense, naturally, and Bloomberg backtracked saying he was talking about a specific place where he saw this -- not that all Irish people get drunk and hang out of windows anywhere and everywhere on St. Patrick's Day. You know, he was "misunderstood."

Okay Mike.

But really, this is such a tempest in a teapot. As someone partly of Irish descent, I guess I should take offense to this but I don't. Ask any Irish person and they'll make lots of drunk Irish jokes. I have lots of Jewish friends who make the most vicious Jewish jokes, I know some Greek people who make sweeping generalizations about their fellow Greeks, same with Italians and other ethnicity's. 

However, I'd send a memo to Bloomberg and anyone politicians who wants to make a joke about an ethnic group or nationality: don't. Don't even make illusions that feed into negative stereotypes: no Italian jokes referencing organized crime, no black jokes referencing watermelon or fried chicken, no Indian jokes referencing 7/11's, no Asian jokes referencing certain parts of their anatomy. In this 24/7 PC media culture, you're just asking for trouble.

That said, there's a proud history of Irish people in this town being great police officers, and this weekend we owe our cops an unusually high debt of gratitude.    

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