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A petulant and irritable farewell to the fast-fading Irish American who, Father Greeley opines, has sold his heritage for a mess of porridge -- worse, for a country club martini glass and the respectability of upper-middle class suburbia. Has the discovery of ethnicity come too late for the Irish? Greeley fears it's the case: Studs Lonigan is no more; JFK is dead and with him dreams of a Celtic Camelot; Mayor Daley who embodies Irish political pragmatism is probably the last of his breed. Alternating his scoldings with pat-'em-on-the-back blandishments, Greeley reviews the Irish immigrant experience from the days of the Famine when 19th century cartoonists drew Paddy as a gorilla with a shillelagh to the overly acculturated present of ""look how far we've come."" He produces statistical evidence to show that ""the Irish are the most successful of the Gentile emigrant groups"" and cites a ""personality profile"" from the National Opinion Research Center which purports that the Irish are neither anti-black, nor super-hawk, nor virulently anti-Communist (though the WASP and Jewish intelligentsia against whom Greeley has a strong animus are charged with continuing to propagate these anti-Catholic and anti-Irish stereotypes). Not that he likes Irish intellectuals any better -- ""the Irish Catholic intellectuals vie with one another to see who can reject his own past with more enthusiasm"" and Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill and Joe Flaherty are a bunch of S.O.B.s. In sum, the complaint is ubiquitous but difficult to pin down; Greeley deprecates Irish-American successful adjustment to American life but boastfully lists their numerous political and economic achievements. He is nostalgic about the immigrant families even though they are variously described as ""anxiety-ridden,"" ""repressive,"" ""cold,"" and ""sexless."" He predicts that Fordham graduates will soon be running the country as Harvard grads drop out and become hippies while bemoaning the fact that young Irish-Americans are ""paralyzed by self-doubt and self-hatred."" Contentious but not convincing.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1972
Publisher: Quadrangle