Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Offensive Cartoons? Not Just About Muslims

As the world watches the passions stirring in the Muslim world over the Dutch cartoons about Mohammad, it’s interesting to recall that there was a time when the Irish were lampooned by numerous cartoonists in this country and in Great Britain. Perhaps the most best-known of these was German-born Thomas Nast.

Left: Nast's view of the Irish in America.

Nast is fondly remembered by many people as the creator of the jolly Santa Claus image that we have all come to know and love. He is also credited with creation of the characters of the Democratic Party (the donkey) and the Republican Party (the elephant) that are still used by cartoonists all over the country. Nast's portfolio contains a number of cartoons that convey anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant sentiments. His often depicted Irish-Americans as stupid, violent, ape-like creatures.

Racism and anti-Catholic bigotry were quite prevalent in the mid-19th century. It was the period that produced an entire political party, the so-called “Know-Nothing” party, dedicated to keeping political power in the hands of native Americans. Indeed, from 1854 to 1856, the American Party, as it was officially known, grew to enroll 1 million Americans .

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Winning an Irish Oscar. If someone told you that every single Oscar winner last night, in fact, every winner in history, has an Irish connection, you’d probably think they were crazy. Not crazy at all -- that connection will be in their hand as they walk off-stage. The Irish connection: The statue was designed by Dubliner Cedric Gibbons on a table cloth in 1928.

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'Little' Phil Sheridan: 'Big Enough for the Purpose'

On March 6, 1831, Philip Sheridan, one of the greatest Union generals of the American Civil War, was born.

Left: Sheridan at Cedar Creek

We know he was the son of Irish immigrants, but his place of birth is uncertain, with Albany, New York; somewhere in Ohio; at sea; and County Cavan, Ireland, all rumored. Less uncertain is his place among Union generals; he was one of the finest of the war. Sheridan had an undistinguished pre-war Army career, which came on the heels of a stormy career at West Point, where he was nearly expelled for fighting with a fellow cadet. After eight years in the Army, the diminutive Sheridan -- 5'5" -- was a 2nd lieutenant when the Civil War began. He languished as a supply officer for the first year of the war. It seemed Phil Sheridan was destined for obscurity, but suddenly that destiny took a turn, and his career skyrocketed.

In March '64, when Ulysses Grant appointed Sheridan commander of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, a staff officer complained that Sheridan might be too small for such a big job. Grant replied, "You will find him big enough for the purpose before we get through with him."

Read the rest of his story in WGT's Archives.

More on “This Week in Irish History”:

2 comments:

Patricia Jameson-Sammartano, Wild Geese Culture Editor said...

An excellent reference work on the Irish in cartoons is Apes and Angels: The Irishman in Victorian Caricature by L. Perry Curtis Jr. It was published in paperback in 1986, is an excellent read, and can still be found on amazon.com.

Pat Hickey said...

I wrote in the Chicago Daily Southtown about the current invection being hurled against Catholics due to the pedophile abuse scandals so mismanaged by the Catholic hierarchy - those mopes in mitres walked right into it.


The American Catholic Church has no giants like Archbishop Hughes, or Mundelein, or Bishop Shiel, or Bishop Sheen. They are all of them PC spin-doctors.

If I were wearing the beanie in this Archdiocese ( Chicago), I would shut down the whole works.

"We have a clergy abuse scandal. I will end that abuse this coming Monday. The entire Archdiocese is under Interdict. No Liturgy, No Services, No Chance of Clerical Contact with Children, No Nothing.

The Church will root out ALL abuse charges by the end of this business day. All legal counsels and 501(c) Abuse Advocacy entities; every hurting person who belives that he was touched fondled caressed, brushed by, or passed a Catholic priest has until close of business day to make a claim.

While under Interdiction no schools, no Catholic Charities, no Urban Ministries, Legal Aid, or Shelters will conduct business of any kind. The Public Schools will need to make preparations to accept all students currently enrolled in Catholic schools. No Catholic services will provide any services of any kind to any person so long as this abuse crisis grips my Archdiocese.'

Bishop Pat Hickey, A Corporation Sole

I wonder how long it would take to straighten out the mess?