Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Whiskey you're the devil
It's the day after St. Patrick's Day, and bent has quite a hangover, but thought she would take the opportunity to blog about Gender Fatigue's activities on the Irish day. Bent has fond memories of listening to her grand-father (bless his soul) sing along to Irish drinking songs in her childhood, getting drunk most every night. While she can't recall any of the specific songs or artists, and she doesn't recall him drinking much aside from Genesee 12 Horse beer, she does imagine a memory of him singing "Whiskey You're the Devil":
As a punk rocker, of course had to like the Pogues, basically the only well known Irish punk rock band. Gender Fatigue had a fantastic party in 2008 to the tunes of the Pogues on St Patrick's Day, and the tradition continued this year. We also had our radio show the same day, which featured plenty of Pogues, as well as a tune by Lick the Tins, from the soundtrack to Some Kind of Wonderful. Mothersheister and bent love to sing along and dance to the Pogues version of "Whiskey You're the Devil."
On this day, Gender Fatigue likes to recall the similarities between Mothersheister's and bent's people's experience with the English, conniving colonizing bastards that they are! After all, Ireland (and to a certain degree Scotland and Wales too) was a testing ground for their colonizing tactics elsewhere, like in Kenya. As we ate corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, we pondered the Irish Potato Famine which killed more than a million and sent another million (all together a quarter of the island's population) fleeing the country. It was not the case, as some mistakenly believe, that Irish people only ate potatoes, and so when the potato crop failed back in 1845-1849, people starved. The Irish grew many other crops, but the English colonial regime would take most of their crops (like grains) as taxes. There was actually more than enough food in Ireland to feed everyone during the potato famine, it's just that the English took it all.
[This is a mural in the Falls neighborhood in Belfast, photo by Asterion.]
The famine, and the English government's lack of reaction to it, resulted in an uprising in Tipperrary. Also really interesting, according to Wikipedia, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire sent food and money to help the Irish, and the Choctaw Indians in the US, who had just endured the Trail of Tears, raised money and sent it as well. Hooray international solidarity!
Another example of international solidarity came at the same time, in the United States, but this time from the Irish towards Mexico. In 1846 the US invaded Mexico, and many newly arrived Irish immigrants (along with other immigrants) were conscripted into the military. When they were sent to war against Mexico, many of them deserted to the Mexican side, for various reasons. Treated poorly by the Anglo officers and wider US society, and by the English before that, they also saw similarities with the Mexicans in religion and being attacked by a larger empire. In addition to many Irish, lots of Germans and other European immigrants deserted, as well as a number of black slaves - they all were given Mexican citizenship immediately.
Since they knew they would probably be killed for treason if they were captured, the San Patricio Battallion soldiers fought extremely hard against the US army, and were exceptionally successful in part because many of them had more combat experience than their Mexican counter parts. Mothersheister says she heard that when the Mexican troops would put up the white flag of surrender, the San Patricios would tear it down and put up their own flag, to keep fighting. San Patricios also probably enjoyed shooting down US army officers who had abused them, and some records show that officers were disproportionately killed during battles involving the San Patricio Batallion. The battallion is fondly remembered in Mexico, where it is celebrated on St Patrick's Day but also on September 12, the anniversary of the executions of those members of the Battallion who were captured by the US army. So have a drink for these amazing fallen soldiers!