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March 16 2018

The Luck of the Irish: They Got Here Before Multiculturalists Could Tell Them Not to Assimilate

by Charlotte Hays

Perhaps St. Patrick's Day is just the time to hoist a glass of green beer and celebrate upward mobility in America, especially the success of Irish immigrants.

As Jason Riley points out in the Wall Street Journal, the Irish began to arrive in the 1840s, dirty poor and uneducated.

The Irish faced hurdles in making lives for themselves in their new country--as Riley observes, the scholar rian W.E.B. DuBois once wrote that freed slaves were poor  “but not as poor as the Irish peasants.”

Irish men worked as laborers, while the women generally found jobs as domestic ervants. “No other contemporary immigrant group was so concentrated at the bottom of the economic ladder,” Thomas Sowell wrote of the Irish. When the Irish moved into a neighborhood, property values fell.

And yet, as a demographic profile of the Irish that is traditionally released on St. Patrick's Day will indicate, once again this year, the Irish have overcome obstacles and prospered. Riley comments:

According to the Census Bureau, today’s Irish-Americans boast poverty rates far below the national average and median incomes far exceeding it. The rates at which they graduate from high school, complete college, work in skilled professions, and own homes are also better than average. What’s so remarkable about this social and economic trajectory among the Irish is how many times it has been replicated among other immigrant groups.

Whether this kind of upward mobility is still possible today given the changes to our economy and culture is an open question. My guess is that it’s still possible but more difficult—not because of our modern economy, but because of our modern attitudes toward assimilation. The type of Americanization of newcomers that once was encouraged is now rejected by activists who push for bilingual education, Spanish-language ballots and the like. The multiculturalists have turned assimilation into a dirty word. Perhaps they’re the ones we should be deporting.

So the Irish are lucky--they got here before the rise of the multiculturalists, who might have told them that they did not have to assimilate. They got here, too, before there was a dominant cultural ethos to tell them that they were victims and to instill a sense of victimhood.

Well, that's the luck of the Irish--and it could still be the luck of other immigrants, if the trendy left wasn't here to handicap them in what was once a rugged and arduous path to earned success.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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