Magazine article Insight on the News

Shamrocks and Milk Fall Behind Iron PC Curtain

Magazine article Insight on the News

Shamrocks and Milk Fall Behind Iron PC Curtain

Article excerpt

Now it's shamrocks that have caught the eye of the sensitivity police, along with, of all things, milk and Martha Stewart. All three, say the czars of political correctness, are too controversial and factious for public display.

In Boston of all places, where large numbers of citizens trace their ancestry to Ireland, the city's Housing Authority has pronounced the little green clover cutouts to be just too "controversial" for common view, i.e., symbols that should be avoided if residents don't wish to be judged as too aggressive, too antisocial and too anti-neighborly. The shamrock censoring is part of the Housing Authority's "diversity program," a project that aims to make citizens "more sensitive to the feelings" of their neighbors. "In particular, the Housing Authority wants `project dwellers' to understand the effect that certain publicly flaunted symbols can have on others," explains Pete Hamill in the Wall Street Journal. "Among the `controversial decorations' are the Confederate and Puerto Rican flags, the swastika and the shamrock."

It's easy to understand the swastika ban, and even the Confederate flag prohibition, but it's much trickier when it comes to the prohibition of the Puerto Rican flag and shamrocks. There, it's more a case of raw numbers, a circumstance of differences in group power, a case of the politics of victimhood, envy and group identity saying that no group should have any more than any other group. If a project dweller from Zaire or Iceland, for instance, can't pull together a big-city parade, then it's "unfair" for him to be exposed to a virtual plethora of "flaunted" and "controversial" symbols on Puerto Rican Day or St. Patrick's Day.

In America's 30 Years War, Hungarian-born historian and concert pianist Balint Vazsonyi writes about his firsthand experience of living in the Soviet Union when it imposed police authority upon every aspect of life. Individual freedom, serf-sufficiency, privacy, property rights and personal liberty were replaced by government-mandated group identities, social and economic levelling, group preferences and income redistribution. "A large red letter identified your ancestry on every form attached to your record," he writes. "If your father worked in a factory, you could do no wrong. If your father owned a small store, you could do no good." In the socialist scheme of things, anyone with too many shamrocks or too many stores becomes the enemy.

Taken to its logical conclusion, whether in Boston or Budapest, the drive to eradicate all group inequalities and individual differences that might fuel social tension produces, inevitably, an overblown statist clique that's large enough to prescribe, in Vazsonyi's words, "a set of conditions to which society must conform, if necessary through coercion or by force. …

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