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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886921730

From: linda Merle <>
Subject: Re: Fw: The Irish in America
Date: Sat, 07 Feb 1998 23:08:50 -0800

Hi Joan,

I'm with you part way -- re the amalgam part and how the notion can be
used to create a "soft" ethnity that is inclusive, not exclusive.
Alas, it is how you have worked it out, and to a large extent, me too.
ATQ Stewart in "The Narrow Ground" says the same thing about the origns
of both Scots and Irish. (Nice to have the experts agree with us!)
However in Ireland, and often in America among Republicans, that's
not how it is seen.

And the notion that assimulation is the only acceptable outcome is
not good. When you demand that other people "join", it feels like
you are the Borg. First we are invited to assimilate voluntarily. And
we decline, we are informed that resistence is futile. The problem in
NI is that the Irish-Borg think the only solution is assimulation
and the Ulster Scot (being human) resists assimulation. So far
has not been futile.

Othertimes nationalists claim that Ulster Protestants "are" Irish -- ie
the "assimulation" has occured. No.... Geographically Ulster Protestants
are irish but culturally they are not. And Borg-methods of forcible
assimilation tend to cause greater resistence.

I really beleive that the way peace can occur is for each tradition
and each culture to begin to appreciate the other -- to grant the other
the right to exist. To spend some time exploring the other and getting
to know it. And saying (at least 100 times) "It is okay to be Ulster
Scots" or "it is okay to be Irish". It really should be okay to be
either -- or both.

Even if you beleive that long term assimulation will occur, then you
need to hear that forcible assimulation will NOT occur. It's been
a long time since the plantation. It has been even longer for those
of us who arrived before the plantation -- with the MacDonnells,
so if history is an indication, assimulation is not likely by May
(which Tony Blair intends to to bring about a settlement). In all
time -- from prehistory to now, the Scot has been Scot and the Irish
Irish in Ulster. That needs to be accepted. The problem was not caused
by the English. It existed long before they arrived on the scene,
and it will outlast them. In all their time in NI they have been unable
to resolve it. Ie -- when they arrived at teh end of the Tudor era,
the MacDonnells had colonized Northern Antrim. In 1314 Edward the Bruce
invaded. Before that the McDonnells made Antrim part of the Lordship of
the Isles. Before that you had the Dalraidians invading Scotland from
Ireland...on and on. It needs to be accepted that the two are differnt
and are not going to assimulate in our lifetimes.

The idea that assimulation is the only acceptable outcome -- which
is exactly what Republicans maintain -- is racist and fascist. Just as
forcible assimulation into the Borg is the same. It is not an
acceptible or humane solution.

There is even work to be done in "rehabilitating" both Irishness and
Ulster Scotsness. Both sides have assimulated too much of the negative
stereotyping of the "other side".

And finally, when the Ulster Irish and the Ulster Scot do finally
make their peace, the Ulsterman who emerges will be uniquely an
Ulsterman. He will partake of both Irish and Scots. He will not be
the same as a Dubliner. Interestingly, even in the diaspora, Ulster
Scots will marry Ulster Irish --- even when (like us) we didn't know
that is what we were doing, and even in the IRA there is north/south
tension in the leadership and a recogniton that the north is different
and that only a northerner can run the campaign in the north.

So for myself, and I suspect for most Ulster Scots, the term
recalls the Borg experience, but in making peace -- there is a lot of
contact, connection, and interrelatedness which must occur.

Linda Merle

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