Thursday, July 14, 2005

All Northern Ireland Is A Sea of Orange...

...or is it All Wales Is A Sea of Song? Whatever.

Two days ago was Orange Day (commemorating the Battle of the Boyne) in Ulster and in scattered areas abroad. July 12 is usually off the radar for me, since there is no significant community of Orange Protestants in my part of the world, at least not in this century. Besides, it's more fun to dress up in orange on Saint Patrick's Day. On SPD everyone is supposed to be Irish, but in America that just means that everyone has an excuse to get drunk. (In Ireland, it means you have no excuse not to go to church.) To my great disappointment, I have learned that almost no one understands the significance of orange vs. green, and that those who do are usually too drunk to notice or care.

That brings me to the reason that I consider myself a sort-of-Orangeman. My maternal grandfather was born to a Protestant family in Northern Ireland. He made his kids wear orange on SPD. He was also, from what I have been told, quite intoxicated much of the time, and was quick to pick a fistfight. Religion aside, he lived the stereotype of the drunken, brawling Irishman.

I was reminded of Orange Day when I came across a post by the Anchoress on this year's, um, "festivities". I'm not going to fisk the post or say anything bad about the Anchoress, who seems to be a very nice lady. I will point out that she is a devout Roman Catholic, and her opinions are generally informed by her faith. The post, therefore, is written from a very Catholic perspective. Basically, Orangemen marched in commemoration of the day, and kept right on marching into Catholic neighborhoods, where violence ensued.

Having checked around the 'net for a balanced view of the proceedings, I learned something that should have been obvious all along: There is not much balance to the reporting on this matter. It's either "militant Catholics" who started the rioting, or the marching Orangemen who defy police-erected barriers and just continue marching where they are not supposed to. Lots of excuses on both sides, but no hint of apologies anywhere. There is not much hope of a compromise when there are such strong opinions on both sides, especially when strong opinions turn to violence.

This isn't really a solution, but if you can't compromise...Americanize. What?? Yes -- turn Orange Day into an American-style holiday along the lines of President's Day. Some people are already doing it. A visit to the beach, a backyard barbecue, a day at the shopping mall -- just the way we celebrate our national heritage in America. Tacky? Perhaps. But it's less dangerous than what the folks in Northern Ireland are doing now.

Have you ever seen FDR haters and Reagan haters throwing bombs at one another in the street? Of course not. We are all too busy stocking up on bedsheets and pillow cases.

Excess consumption and consumerism could be the key to putting an end to the violence in Ulster.


Anonymous said...

Anchoress linked to you, and seemed to take your points well.

Honnistaibe said...

I know I promised no more confessions but your blog always stimulates my thoughts:
I went to Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio for my undergraduate work, a college affilliated with the United Presbyterian Church.
When I enrolled there they didn't have any "national" greek chapters..only local fraternities and sororities.
I was rushed and joined a fraternity my freshman year known as the "Ulster Club" which contrary to my character was the "academic bunch."
Anyway they were nicknamed "the Orangemen", a name supposedly chosen in honor of the United Presbyterian Church's Soot/Irish roots and they still exist today as far as I know..I was still getting stuff from them as an allumnus a few years ago..