The best part of this idiocy is that the author’s not sure if the term came about as a slur or not. It “stings” him, but he admits that “paddy wagon” might be so named not because Irish-Americans used to be identified with criminals but because they used to be identified with cops. A hundred years ago in New York City, odds were good that the guy driving the paddy wagon was either himself named “Paddy” or had family that was.
Anyway. We should encourage especially absurd examples of grievance-mongering like this, as it discredits the entire Victim Olympics. Question: When will the persecution of Irish-Americans end? Answer, from a Twitter pal: “Presumably, when they curb their penchant for public drunkenness.”
I certainly don’t think King intended to slight Irish Americans. And Trump probably didn’t either. But that doesn’t take the sting out of the phrase when I hear it.
My great grandfather, a cop who first walked a beat in Brooklyn and later for the NYPD, told me of early job searches at the turn of the last century and the widespread presence of signs saying, “Irish and dogs need not apply.” His son, my grandfather, served as editor of the Cornell Law Review in 1953 and was rejected by every white-shoe law firm in Gotham, apparently because of his last name. As a foreign correspondent in Belfast in the 1980s, I was repeatedly tossed into police vans — presumed guilty for having the temerity to live in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. Slaps of nightsticks to the shins and kicks to the ribs were accompanied by a variety of vile phrases ending with the word “paddy.”
Two years ago, I complained to the New York Times about the appearance of “paddy wagon” in a crossword. Puzzle editor Will Shortz dismissed my objections, writing: “The Irish are not a group that’s discriminated against in the U.S.”
That’s generally true. But each use of the phrase “paddy wagon” evokes a time when they were.
You know you’re in deep left field when the New York Times is telling you to sack up, snowflake. Two of the three examples he cites of bygone prejudice don’t even strike me as anti-Irish bigotry, specifically, so much as anti-Catholic bias generally. How many white-shoe firms of the early 50s were eagerly accepting Italian or Polish associates, say, while they were busy turning away the Irish at the door? This story ends happily, though: Irish-Americans reproduced like rabbits (stereotype!) and today they account for more than 10 percent of the total population, roughly seven times the population of Ireland itself. There are so many of them that there are barely enough paddy wagons in the United States to cart them all away when they’re out in the street on St. Patrick’s Day, brawling and vomiting by 10 in the morning. Like animals.
If WaPo was hot to push some non-traditional grievances on its op-ed page, why didn’t it capitalize on Mooch-mania and enlist an Italian-American to write an op-ed about how hurtful all of the mafia jokes lately about Anthony Scaramucci have been? That complaint would be exaggerated too — the guy did sound like Joe Pesci in “GoodFellas” in his New Yorker interview — but you’re on firmer ground there than you are whining about “paddy wagon.” Instead the paper’s latest take on Scaramucci is that, er, his Italian last name “perfectly encapsulates his brief, insane White House stint.” These Victim Olympics seem rigged, WaPo.