Every once in a while, I have one of those days where it seems that everything I read in the newspaper irritates the bejesus out of me. Today was one of those days when a number of articles in The Philadelphia Inquirer elicited much head-scratching and eye-rolling.
Allow me to share.
First up was a report from the U.S. Department of Education that claimed that 70% of all in-school related arrests or referrals to law enforcement involved African-American or Hispanic students. Despite the fact that black students made up 18% of the sample, they comprised 35% of student suspensions and 39% of expulsions. (Similar data in this vein for Hispanics and other groups was not presented.)
Of course this begs the question as to how such a phenomena occurs and for answers to rectify the situation. And just as plainly, all the reactions cited in the Associated Press column missed – or simply decided to ignore – the most obvious reasoning. Instead these commentators focused on why non-minority students were not more equally represented. In other words, they turn the issue into a Civil Rights issue instead of a parent, student, behavior, respect, and discipline issue!
As so often is the claim, there must be SOME OTHER reason for the aberrant data. Either the System is applying investigative, enforcement, and punishment unequally across all racial groups or somehow the white people are gaming the schools and The System.
Give me a break!
Could it be that perhaps that African-American and Hispanic students are simply the source of more school crimes, assaults, and general misbehavior in relation to the national school population as a whole? Could it be that maybe parents in some socio-economic groups simply do not pay enough attention to what their children are doing in and out of school? Or how they behave and – even more importantly – how they PERFORM in school? Is it possible that maybe the issue has more to do with values, priorities, and general parental involvement?
Of course not! Silly me …
Next up was an unbelievable story out of Cumberland County, PA reported by Sohrab Ahmari, an Iranian-American journalist and associate research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and guest columnist for The Inqy. The article relates a court ruling last week in the case of a Muslim immigrant that attacked a participant in the Mechanicsburg Halloween Parade, who decided to dress up as a “Zombie Muhammad”. The incident was witnessed by scores of people; and the defendant even confessed to his part in the attack, where Ernest Pearce, a member of the Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania, was rushed and choked by 46-year-old Talaag Elbayomy.
Open and shut case, you say?!? Silly, silly you …
But it isn’t the fact that District Judge Mark Martin found the broad daylight, confessed attacker innocent; it was the way the Judge decided to express his own personal views about how the American legal system applies to Muslim immigrants! Among the findings of Judge Martin were the following Pearls of Wisdom:
- The REAL victim was Mr. Elbayomy because his religious beliefs were offended.
- Mr. Elbayomy could not be expected to abide by American laws simply because he was an immigrant!
- Mr. Pearce was an insensitive “doofus” (Yes, the judge’s very word!) for “mocking someone else’s religion”.
- And finally, that Mr. Pearce was lucky he wasn’t hanged or beheaded as would potentially happen if he had the suicidal impulse to perform his imitation of “Zombie Muhammad” in Iran or Saudi Arabia!
Mr. Ahmari – on the other hand – did an excellent job of explaining why such an irresponsible decision by a judge “… sends the worst possible message to American Muslims … about the rule of law in a free society”. He explains how many Muslims have immigrated to the U.S. to “escape religious tyranny”. And in a way Judge Martin’s ridiculous ruling also feeds the paranoia of some Americans who fear the specter of both Muslims and sharia law.
In the parade, Mr. Pearce’s “Zombie Muhammad” was accompanied by another Parading Atheist dressed as a “Zombie Pope”. Apparently, no Catholics attacked.
Finally, the Irish-Americans are up in arms over their oppression. But before you go off seeking a Union Jack to set aflame, it’s not the British this time. No, it’s Spencer’s Gifts!
Outside the Aqua entrance to Franklin Mills Mall in Northeast Philadelphia, reporter Monica Yant Kinney covered the Irish Anti-Defamation Federation as they handed out green – of course – flyers alerting shoppers to “crimes against Irish culture”! The problem being hats that say, “Kiss me I’m Irish!” and St. Patrick’s Day beer hookahs.
Even the Philadelphia County Ancient Order of Hiberians got into the act by noting their anger at the annual desecration of the shamrock.
Geez … desecrating the Sacred Shamrock!
I always considered the Irish a stout, tough breed. One not given to feeling sorry for themselves or for joining in with all the other ultra-sensitive ethnic groups resentful of how they have been portrayed. As an American of Irish descent, I have participated in over 30 years of St. Paddy’s Days and never once felt demeaned or offended.
Certainly the drinking and fighting characteristics of the Irish get overplayed, just as particular legends and physical traits of other ethnicities have for decades. But I never looked at any of that as demeaning to my heritage. In fact, I would hazard the opinion that it has actually made the Irish more likable as a down-to-earth people and more sympathetic in those times when sectarian violence tore apart the fabric of Irish culture.
I can understand the reluctance of culturally conservative Hibernians to engage in those stereotypes and activities they see as demeaning to Irish culture. But it’s equally hard for me to believe that this is suddenly a wrong that needs to be righted. Although they may see this behavior as devoid of any traditional Irish cultural appreciation, it still makes the Irish a whole lot more fun to be around than just about any other cultural group.
So on this St. Patrick’s Day have a few green-colored cocktails (in moderation of course); grab a platter of corned beef and sauerkraut; and find the movie, The Quiet Man (starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara) on a TV near you. Enjoy the atmosphere of fun and mirth. Try to appreciate the Irish culture that Americans of all types have been exposed to each and every year on March 17. But if you watch my favorite Irish movie, don’t fast-forward through the drinking and fighting scenes that involve Sean Thornton (Wayne) and the local Irish natives.
Because if you do, you will miss half the movie!