Yesterday was the big celebration all over the (western-influenced) world when millions of disparate people became “honorary Irish” in order to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, which really marks the Irish diaspora, especially the 5 million or so who emigrated to the United States. Although the migration started in the early 19th century it was during the Victorian era (from 1840) that it became almost a national industry such that 40% of Irish-born people had emigrated from the Emerald Isle by 1890. Today around 36 million Americans – that’s more that 10% of the population – claim Irish as their primary ancestry* and hence we have the huge St Paddy’s Day parades in New York City, Philadelphia and many other towns and cities throughout the land. We even had a “St Patrick’s Day Potluck” at my place of work. All this largely to celebrate the huge benefits this massive influx of people from a single country have had on other nations (especially the USA), as well as a good excuse to gulp a few pints of Guinness.
So, it is with more than a touch of irony and bitterness that the day preceding this event I was sent a link to a Trump video where the polemic pouter, whose mother (née Mary Anne MacLeod) was a Scottish immigrant, reading the Oscar Brown-penned song The Snake, that was made famous by Al Wilson in the late 60s, against a background of selective videos of violence.
This song is based on one of the famous fables of the Greek slave and storyteller, Aesop, specifically, The Farmer and the Viper, and is the source of the idiom “to nourish a viper in one’s bosom” (little used today). It’s not difficult to see the claim he is making, albeit crudely.
The gist of the tale is that the farmer (or woman in the song) finds a viper that is injured and feeling compassion for the animal’s plight takes it home to heal it. Whilst ministering to its needs the snake bites him, delivering a fatal dose of venom. Dying, the farmer asks, “why did you kill me when I was helping you?” to which the viper replies dispassionately, “I’m a snake, what did you expect me to do?”
Now, I’d like to turn this around somewhat and say that given the Donald’s past history of narcissism, deceit, misogyny, racism, vitriolic ranting, violence inciting, and general disregard for humanity as a whole …
“Who’s the snake?”
* Although I am an immigrant, who enjoys a Guinness (or Murphy’s), I am not of Irish descent, as far as I know.