Thursday, June 16, 2016

It's a Blooming shame!

I hope you're enjoying Bloomsday and have or will honor it appropriately. I vaguely recall having read much of Joyce's better known works (Ulysses, Portrait of the Artist, Finnegan's Wake, Dubliners) back when I was in college. As I've written several times, I grew up in Boston, and remember stories of signs in windows "Irish need not apply [INNA]." Recent tragic events, combined with the position(s) taken regarding immigrants and minorities by a certain presumptive Republican nominee for POTUS, reminded me of those stories.

Stillwater on the St. Croix, a birthplace of Minnesota
Stillwater on the St. Croix, a birthplace of Minnesota
Photo by J. Harrington

Minnesota is doing a little better these days than when it was still a territory, but a quick check through North Woods River, The St. Croix River in Upper Midwest History, confirms that bigotry has long been a part of American politics, even in a state like Minnesota, once noted for liberalism in its political leanings.
"...The American Party, or the Know-Nothings, aimed to restrict immigration by limiting office holding to native-born Americans and to restrict citizenship to those with a twenty-one-year residency....By the end of the decade, however, the nativist movement had foundered on the growing sectional crisis over slavery, and the Know-Northing Party disappeared from the national stage. Some of its members were absorbed into the new Republican Party..." [p. 164]
I haven't yet decided whether or not I'm pleased to see Donald Trump so blatently returning the Republican Party to its Know-Nothing, anti-immigrant roots. Probably better to have it out in the open rather than hidden in some closet. Candidly, I'd much prefer an election in which I was frustrated at having to choose between two great candidates, platforms and program packages, rather than the lesser of two evils from the Same Old Party(s). Minnesota, the rest of the United States, and the entire Earth, deserve better. We get the kind of governance we settle for. How's your broadband Greater Minnesota? Should be an interesting time between now and November.

You may have noticed from today's posting that recent events have "got my Irish up." We'll return you tomorrow to our regular programming. Before that, as great a writer as Joyce was, another Irishman has written a poem more fitting today's theme. What do you think?

The Second Coming

By William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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