Tom McLaughlin: Politics of Resentment
Politics of Resentment
Wed, 03/28/2012 - 6:37am
Posted by tommclaughlin
Have you ever owned slaves? I haven’t. After years researching my ancestry in America and in Ireland going back to the mid-nineteenth century, I found no evidence that McLaughlins, Haggertys, Sullivans, McDonnells, Fitzgeralds, or any other branch of my family were slaveholders. Rather, many were near-slaves of British landlords. I feel no guilt about what happened to black slaves in America up to 1865, nor should I.
Neither do I feel any responsibility for discrimination against blacks in America during the 20th century. Catholics (which all my ancestors were) suffered from discrimination under British rule in Ireland until 1922. It continued until the 1980s or so where the McLaughlin branch comes from in Ulster, but I don’t resent British people or Unionist protestants in Northern Ireland today, nor should I. It would only hurt me if I did. That’s history - water under the bridge and over the dam. Virtually every race or ethnic group has suffered at one time or another. American blacks don’t have a monopoly on that. Some of my relatives here in America have suffered from discrimination against white males in the form of “Affirmative Action,” though it hasn’t been an obstacle for me that I’m aware of. I've written about all this in more depth here in a column titled "Heterosexual White Guy."
Growing up in greater Boston during the late 20th century I was infused with resentment of the British. Rather than look in the mirror, my extended family routinely blamed them for whatever difficulties or lack of progress we perceived in ourselves. That resentment was quite readily transferred to Yankee Protestants even after Massachusetts government was virtually taken over by us Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrats at almost every level and John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected president. Then it was transferred to “the rich” where it remains ubiquitous in today’s Democrat Party. It wasn’t rational, but that’s how it was among the people with whom I grew up and I was infected.Overcoming that was a long process and I’m finally rid of it, but I haven’t forgotten how it was to think and feel that way. It helps me understand the Democrat Party’s appeal as well as the Obama campaign’s reelection strategy. Both still beat the same drum while America circles the drain under their leadership.