Celebrity chef Stefanie Izard got into major trouble recently when she did something offensive: she cooked.
Posting a picture of her version of bibimbap, which is a Korean rice dish, the outrage mob blasted her for “cultural appropriation” because in the new America, white chefs cannot cook non-white food. So heated was the backlash that she issued an apology.
Well, millions of you better get ready to apologize to me today. Every Saint Patrick’s Day, many of you appropriate Irish culture, and I am literally shaking.
One critic of Chef Izard talked about the oppression of Asians. Is there any people in Europe more oppressed than the Irish? They’ve been under the boot of the crown for several hundred years. Elizabeth I outlawed their Catholic religion and their unique language. Queen Anne stripped them of their right to own land. Queen Victoria watched them starve during the potato famine of the mid-19th century.
Come to think of it, English queens really aren’t fans of the Irish. Is Meghan Markle Irish?
Despite centuries of suffering, here you are today wearing a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” sticker and making shillelagh jokes. And when I dare ask with a trembling voice if you know the significance of round whiskey bottles versus square ones, and what right you have eating shepherd’s pie, you’ll respond with some dismissive “my best friend is Irish” retort as if that makes cultural appropriation OK.
I am shaking. Literally.
“Play one of those bagpipe songs” I once heard someone say like our music is there for your entertainment. Jigs and reels are NOT the same, and my heart aches with centuries of pain as impersonators gesture through The Irish Unicorn. It’s green face.
I can take this further … but I won’t as the left has no sense of humor, but I’ve made the point of how unbearably stupid these arguments have become. Today you are honorary Irish if you want to be. It’s not ours to bequeath, and it’s not ours to deny. That’s the beauty of our American culture mashup and non-Irish donning an itchy Aran sweater, non-Koreans making a Chicago-style bibimbap, or even, as my other cultural half deals with regularly, all of you piling nonsense ingredients onto dough and calling the unholy monster “pizza.”
Culture is what unites us: food, music, clothing and whiskey. It’s no surprise then that the divisive and angry forces of 2021 communists attack culture. That’s how you kill a people as historically the crown tried to kill the uniquely Irish culture. Many cultures experienced the same sort of oppression and violence, and yet here we all are. In America. In relative peace. In enormous prosperity — the greatest prosperity mankind has ever known. We have reason to celebrate in America. Let’s not import the violence, dare I say the intolerance, we left behind.
Be Irish today, and that means tell a good joke with a twinkle in your eye. Sing a song with all your might. Show loyalty, courtesy, and if someone steps too far, throw a good right hook. As the Irish joke goes: a bloke walking down the street saw two men fighting and asked “is this a private fight or can anyone join?” Tip your servers. Roll your r’s. And when Danny Boy comes on, shed a wee tear.
It’s laughable to feign outrage that anyone today claims or celebrates Irish heritage. That outrage actually IS offensive, for it’s a high honor that people celebrate your culture. And sure, they will reduce it to wearing green or painting a shamrock on their cheek or drinking a Guinness, but oversimplification is not malice and let’s not confuse your eagerness for victimhood with what today actually is: a celebration. People embrace what they perceive, incorrectly or not, to be Irish, and that’s grand, as the Irish say.
And we should do the same on their special day whether it’s in honor of a saint or a poet or tribal chief or a religious festival. Eat the food, drink the drink, dance and sing and celebrate, incorrectly or not. Exporting culture makes it stronger, not weaker. Sharing culture makes us better, not worse. Imitating culture makes us more human.
Next time someone lectures you about cultural appropriation and pretends to be hurt by a meal or a song, pour them a pint and tell them to calm down. We’re in America. We’ve left the thought police and cultural enforcers elsewhere, and we don’t want any of it here. Put guacamole and siracha on your corned beef, who cares? It’s a party. Celebrate. Today you’re Irish, but everyday you’re American.
Daniel Turner is the founder and executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. His family hails from Dingle in County Kerry (and mom is from Italy). Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF