C&L's Late Nite Music Club With Jamo Thomas - Those spies are tricky. He may have an X-Ray camera but makes no mention of a microwave oven. Though Luther Ingram and the G-Men's version of "I Spy (For...
Thursday, December 4, 2014
As An Irishman, I Need Peter King To Shut His Stupid Mick Face
I'm descended from Buckleys and Brennans, people who immigrated to a Connecticut mill town and worked in the factory, the local newspaper, and a funeral home. One of them went into politics and became the mayor. I know all about the symbolism of your claddagh ring tattoo and which whiskey is the Protestant one. I discovered U2, I grew up with U2, and now I try to pretend U2 never happened. I call my mother often, and I feel guilt as easily as I sunburn. I'm an Irish American.
And that is why as a yegg, a harp, a donkeyfaced narrowback, I was particularly appalled to see that Peter King is still out there talking nonsense, and people are still somehow paying attention to him. It's obvious that the death of Eric Garner is troubling evidence that this country continues to treat black people as if their lives don't matter. And it's also obvious that many conservatives simply will never admit this. Peter King is one such conservative. He recently thanked the grand jury for acquitting the police officer who killed Mr. Garner and went on TV with Blitzer to blame the man's death on his obesity.
If Irish America is one large, cantankerous family, Peter King is the second cousin who gets drunk and flips his car over in an accident bad enough to make the local news. He breaks up Thanksgiving dinner with some extended rant that manages to mix racism with quotes from The Quiet Man. He's the reason we need to go across town for midnight mass. Peter King shames us. He shames us all.
He has a long history of being a tireless defender of every nasty and bigoted impulse of the American right - he demonizes Muslim Americans, he supports torture, targeted killing, NSA surveillance, and he's been described as "the Patriot Act's most fervent fan." If someone with power wants to abuse someone without power, Peter King is eager to provide money, authority, and a justifying soundbite.
But that is not even the bad part. Peter King is also a strong supporter of terrorism. He has long been a vocal proponent of the IRA. In fact, in 1985 when organizers of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade picked him as the grand marshal, the Irish government boycotted the thing in protest. He's on the House Committee on Homeland Security, and he used to be its chairman. One of this government's most influential politicians on counter-terrorism policy, someone who can never find a reason for security forces to behave with any restraint when confronting religious minorities or people of color, is perfectly fine with supporting a terrorist organization when it suits his own purposes.
And that's why Peter King is not just a particularly ugly example of people who share my sometimes magnificent and often cursed heritage... He's also an ugly example of what it means to be American. He's a reminder that we are very, very comfortable with lethal violence against others - here and overseas. For many years it was fashionable among some Irish Americans to support terrorism (until we discovered people could use terrorism against us). But among Americans in general, it's always been fashionable to terrorize people. We've done that since the beginning. We do that still. And we are constantly surprised when it comes back on us. Peter King's power and status is a testament to our hypocrisy and our moral idiocy.
In a better world a guy like that would be mouthing off his asinine opinions from a bar stool at Paddy Reilly's, and someone would eventually tell him to clamp it. In a better America no one would ever confuse him with a patriot. But now it's time for all of us to discover, again, where we live and who we really are. Until we learn.
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