Ireland & The U.S. South

“A very old place”

That is how Kieran Quinlan describes both Ireland and the southern part of the United States.

I just find it interesting. Old not as in dates, but old as in thinking; old as in the mindset. If there is one thing that I have noticed about the South, it’s that they always seem to be a few steps behind anyone else. Not only in how they think, but in other categories as well.  What is it that keeps them from keeping up and growing with the rest?

Perhaps they’re still recovering…

Not one country was built without a few major bumps in the road. It’s important to recognize this because it makes it real. We cannot downplay the events that took place in the becoming stages of nations. The journey is the most important part.

Southern studies scholar, Gavan Lennon tells how the U.S. is so brilliant at telling their own story. I agree with this completely. “America the Beautiful” or “Land of the free, home of the brave”. These terms are so majestic and so captivating. Yet this beautiful land is where slavery took place, this land is where Natives were assaulted and removed, this is the same land that women weren’t allowed to have property on . . . So who is this applying to?

Lennon even shares that Ireland too went through their own civil rights movement in the ’70s/80’s not much later than the U.S. This again is showing how we are not much different from any other countries. Our journies are quite similar.

I bring up this small point because it applies to so much. The book Clotel by William Wells Brown would be a perfect example of this. The book is supposed to show the horrors and how different groups of people are impacted by slavery. When reading this book I’d describe as very clean. Then there are even remakes or edited versions of it throughout the years. As time progresses the book becomes even cleaner. I bring this up because this is how we tell our story. We pick and we choose the parts the part that fit us best.  We downplay our faults. This is an injustice to countries as a whole because without the faults we wouldn’t have some of the great achievements.  People are not good at telling their own history, they’re good at masking their fault. The ugly is what makes the better things beautiful. 

I like Quinlan’s book because he does such a good job of showing us everything.  If it had been me I would have never thought to compare the U.S. South to Ireland. But now reading it makes total sense. America is a melting pot. Many Europeans came over to start lives here, so of course, we’d still have some of their values and practices. The concept of Southern Exceptionalism isn’t native to us like we’d think, this idea was brought here since the time of imperialism and manifest destiny. After these times were over the South was left with the stigma that will always be attached to its history. Just know that this was given to the south, they were dealt with this, and now they will forever be conquering it.

The image above is from a blog that captures racism and the wrongs that go on in Ireland. I chose this image to show that just the U.S. racism is a problem there as well. All countries are faulted no matter where you run to. The best you can do educate and hope they learn from their past mistakes.

Works Cited

Quinlan, Kieran. Strange Kin, Ireland and the American South. LSU Press, 2005.

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