Bow to Me; I’m English!

Blog, Featured — By on March 17, 2010 at 8:00 am

(This is a rerun of a post we ran on the Burnside Blog last year.)

Wandering the wastelands of Facebook today, I stumbled across the status update of Michael Radcliffe, a contributor to Burnside on occasion:

“Kiss me; I’m British-German and lack the scrappy, drunken and witty insecurity that comes from living in fear of the imperial tyrants instead of being one.”

Which caused me to chuckle for a number of reasons. The main one being, to be honest, I’m sick of the Irish.

Not the people themselves, but their incessant need to remind you they’re Irish, and how everyone mentions how they’re part Irish. At this point in American history, if you’re any more than one generation removed from the Old Country (any of them, frankly), you’re probably part Irish. It’s not that big a deal anymore.

And why is being Irish so awesome anyway? My ancestry is primarily English and German. That means that while the Irish couldn’t even grow potatoes in their own land, my people had an empire that the sun never set on. They ran India, Canada, Australia, South Africa…they even owned the US before it existed! And they ran the world from a tiny, cold, rainy island! But do you see me getting a Union Jack tattoo and eating meat pies all the time?

The other side, the Germans…well, they’ve got their dark moments. But they do make great automobiles, beer and sausage.

As Stuff White People Like pointed out, colonialism might be one of the reasons people like identifying with the Irish, and that’s understandable to some extent. But imperialism was the game back then…that’s how things worked. If, in the future, basketball becomes barbaric and evil, would we blame the Chicago Bulls of the early ’90s for kicking ass? Of course not! And when it comes down to it, Great Britain is the Michael Jordan of nationalities.

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison for a moment. Oh, you have Guinness? Well, we invented stouts, along with IPAs and pale ales. And Guinness is overrated, anyway. I’ll see your James Joyce and raise you William Shakespeare.

Oh, you have U2? We have The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Oh, and Radiohead. Oh, and THE FRIGGING BEATLES.

Now, my wife is Irish (half), so I’m having a little fun here. But I know all you o’bastards are getting a bit riled right now reading this, what with your raging tempers. I can understand that…it’s irritating hearing someone brag about how awesome their nationality is, isn’t it?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Even I’ll admit, he was a pretty awesome dude.

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  • Josiah says:

    This is one of the most enjoyable posts I’ve read for a while now. Oh, and I tend to agree with your comic irritation of how proud the Irish always are…

  • Hillary Lodge says:

    The Engligh really do get stiffed when it comes to heritage recognition. This post reminded me of the four old guys in Bonnie Hunt’s “Return To Me” where they’re arguing Irish over Italian musicians.

    If it makes you feel better, the Italians won.

  • Jordan Green says:

    Sinatra? Who else?

    Still, the English win. We take all comers. The only dangerous matchups? English v Russian Authors and American v. English Rock Stars.

    Elvis would put up quite a fight.

  • Chase says:

    Hey, I’m part Irish. . .somewhere.

    But I’m with you. My great-great-grandparents, on one side – whom I’ve never met – immigrated. . . “Big Whoop”, right? One stream certainly doesn’t account for the British, and French-Cajon in me.

    All I’ve got to show for the Irish Blood is the inability to tan. Pass the Budweiser, I’m an American Mutt.

  • edro says:

    Just be thankful there’s not a “St. Sam Houston Day” or we’d have to endure a level of braggery from the Texicans that would put the Irish in the shade…

  • Georgetta Nextdoor says:

    I think underneath the bluster, you are sad that you don’t share the great heritage of the Irish people. :)

    And yes, you were successful in riling up this Irish woman, whose fiery Irishness is usually kept in check by my stoic Swedishness.

  • diane says:

    All I have to say is that I’m 100% Dutch. My mom was the first generation to learn English first.

    For being such a little country they’ve had a huge impact on the world and culture. For this, I am proud (except when it comes to South Africa …not so proud of that).

  • Stephanie Nikolopoulos says:

    Um, hello?! This conversation wouldn’t even be possible if it weren’t for the Greeks. We invented Western civilization as you know it, including the root words of the very language we’re using right now. Need I remind you:::

    Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word himona, is mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!

  • APN says:

    First of all, I recognize that I'm a bit late with contributing my comments to this tawdry little post of Jordan's. I was attending this little event called South By Southwest that we hold her in Texas. Forgive me.

    That being said, I personally a strange embodiment of this entire post and the resulting commentary (Steph's prideful preening on Greek culture aside). Through my mother's amateur genealogical work, I've discovered that I'm 1/4 Irish, 1/4 English, 1/4 German, & 1/4 Polish – aka one half of me has preternaturally subjugated the other half of me for vast majority of the last 500 years (or more).

    Thus, my Irish pride comes from the fact that I prefer the underdog, when those of us who are beaten down by the high-and-mighty rise up to reclaim what was originally ours. You English ninnies crow and bray about the fact that the sun used to never set on your empire (an empire built on the backs of the Scots, Irish, and other subjugated peoples). Where's the fun in that?

    Of course there's not a specific day when we celebrate the English culture – we do that every day when people speak the language internationally! Let us have our little day in the middle of March, complete with Guinness (which is NOT over-rated, you blasphemer), Jameson, Killian's, Harp, and other fine Irish libations (but get rid of that crappy green beer).

    **Steps down off yet another one of my soapboxes**

  • pinoy55 says:

    “Still, the English win. We take all comers. The only dangerous matchups? English v Russian Authors and American v. English Rock Stars.”

    Why not English boxers vs impoverished third world boxers? Hitman? tsk, tsk, don’t think so.

  • Steve says:

    C’mon, everyone knows the English are evil. Didn’t you see Braveheart? Star Wars? It’s no coincidence that all the Imperial officers on the Death Star have British accents. Now I’m going to honor my Irish heritage by knocking back a sixer of Killian’s Red, kissing the Blarney tree, eating some pastrami and cabbage, and listening to U2 while wearing a kilt. I’m so Irish.

  • arryq says:

    “colonialism might be one of the reasons people like identifying with the Irish, and that’s understandable to some extent. But imperialism was the game back then…that’s how things worked. If, in the future, basketball becomes barbaric and evil, would we blame the Chicago Bulls of the early ’90s for kicking ass?”

    How about if the early 90′s Chicago Bulls violently oppressed anyone they could? I know this is supposed to be a humorous post, but the above comparison is ridiculous. You can do better Jordan.

  • Dylan says:

    it wasn’t just the early 90s. the Bulls of 96-98 were just as dominant. repeat the three-peat, remember?
    and yeah, st patricks day sucks and so do the irish.

  • Eric says:


    I love it because it sounds like a fight . . .I am Irish. But I showed it to my friend from Wales thinking he of all people would appreciate it but he didn’t get it…he said it all sounded too American for him. And then I strangely looked at him and shrugged my shoulders and said that he sounded a little too Welsh for me.

  • You know, it’s funny when you scroll down to comment and realize you did. A year ago.

    Anyway – Stephanie, you made me clap my hands. Kudos.

    I also felt that German chocolate deserves a mention.

  • quel says:

    I’m struck by various aspects of both the article and comments which follow it. Part of me just laughs, one of my ex-boyfriends who is english pointed out to me with dismay that the villians in american films are often brits or germans even when it adds nothing to the plot. Ever since he pointed that out i’ve thought about it while watching movies…Think Die Hard, any of them. But i’m not sure about the Michael Jordan of countries, after all there were other emperial powers before them (How much of the world still speaks Spanish? How did Latin spread? Mongols anyone? Modern China in finance?). But there has never been a baller in the NBA like him, not before or since. Just a thought…

  • Michael Jarrell says:

    No one is purebred anything. The Irish are part Gaelic, part Pictish and part Scandanavian. The English are part Anglo, part Saxon and any number of other peoples wandering off the continent. And all of America is made up of 100%, Heinz 57, grade A, purebred mutts made of nationalities that would take a ream of paper to list.

    So pass the German sausage, the Irish Potatoes, The Belgian Ale and find me a Louis the XIV chair to watch my Japanese TV in.

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