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How I Almost Got My Ass Kicked at the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Lived to Tell About It


David Kruidenier • 17 March 2007

So nearly a year ago I moved to Philadelphia from NC. Last year I'd only been living in the city with my partner for a month when we set out to see what the St. Patrick's Day parade (rumored to be the third largest in the U.S. behind NYC and Savannah) was like here. As I had always done in Raleigh, I brought a provocative sign to hold up to hopefully elicit debate with participants in the parade or green-clad bystanders. In years past, even though I had no longer considered myself a traditional republican, I typically wore an IRA shirt because I knew that the Irish in NC were typically ignorant concerning the situation in the North; but I knew they would recognize those three contentious letters.

Last year, since the IRA was all but defunct, I could no longer in good conscience wear such a shirt, even to provoke dialogue. So I settled on a "Tiocfaidh Ár Lá" shirt with the oft-seen poster of Margaret Thatcher reading: "WANTED: FOR THE TORTURE AND MURDER OF IRISH PRISONERS. Now these two items of propaganda might have been contentious at a Conservative Party function, but at a St. Patrick's Day parade they elicited nothing but cries of drunken support and a generous helping of 'Up the Provos'. I went home after living in Philly for a month believing the entirety of the Irish population supported me. I mean we all loathe Margaret Thatcher, right? And for a year we were one big, happy, Irish republican family.

But in one year, my disillusionment grew tenfold after watching the shameless politics of Sinn Féin and the DUP. Being an anarchist, to me party politics is shameful wherever it takes place, but to watch a once "radical" party like SF capitulate to every demand the British State, and therefore Unionists/Loyalists, made of them, I felt like this year Margaret Thatcher wasn't going to properly express my frustration.

I intended to stencil my own statements concerning the situation in the North, but the parade all but snuck up on me, and there wassn't time. Instead, a few hours before the parade, I started searching the web for posters that I could print out and carry with me. I found one on the Republican Socialist Youth Movement's webpage depicting an armed, Northern Irish policeman and imploring its reader to "Reject the New RUC." I printed out two of them, placed them side by side on a piece of sturdy cardboard, and then decided to make it topical. Below the images, in my neat republican handwriting, I scrawled: "Reject the Sinn Féin sell-out."

My partner and I hurried over to the parade with our non-Irish dog, and after reaching the spot along the parade route where I felt I'd be most visible, she informed me that she was going to watch from the other side of the street because it was sunnier (Read: Someone is not going to like your sign, and I don't want to be close by when they decide to hang you from a pole like St. Patrick or the Pope and carry you away.) Two hours passed and a few intelligent, well-informed Irish Americans came up to ask what 'Ruck' was (RUC) or 'Sin Feen' (Sinn Féin). I hadn't generated too much attention from parade participants other than a few members from the Ancient Order of Hibernians yelling slurred snippets of support and contradictory choruses of 'Up the Provos', and one man who yelled, "What a bunch of shite," which didn't have the same supportive ring.

The INA (Irish Northern Aid) contingent passed by without a word, which was odd, since I'd heard that many of them had become disillusioned with SF. They were my only hope of ending up with a free dinner that night, but they didn't seem too interested in me one way or the other. The parade began winding down when the last Hibernian faction passed by. A very large man near the back of the group looked at me and said, "You should be ashamed of yourself." The articulate response I managed to counter with was, "Fair enough." I thought he might have called me a dirty name, but I couldn't make it out; it didn't sound like he was asking me out to dinner though. I turned back to the parade when I heard the older man who'd been comparing my crusade with that of Woodstock say, "Uh oh, son, here they come." I turned to see my friend the Hibernian and one of his white sweater-wearing mates approaching me in the same friendly way that American settlers must have approached the Native Americans.

They both got right up in my face and the one who hadn't spoken to me yet said, "You're really going to hold that sign up TODAY?" I responded with, "Today's as good a day as any." To which he said, "You're a fucking douchebag." To which I said, "Okay." A few spectators began to gather 'round, and the old man got behind me, although I didn't feel like he had my back in a fighting sense. The alcohol on their breath might as well have been a punch in the nose, and at that point I wasn't as worried about being assaulted as I was about ending up with beer all over me. They managed to call me a douchebag about 16 more times before goosestepping back to their Hibernian boy scout troupe. The only thing I could do was fall to my knees and thank St. Patrick and his angels for protecting me from those bad Irish men.

I'm looking forward to next year when ex-IRA men and ex-UDA/UVF men are patrolling the streets keeping everyone safe from joyriders and dissident republicans. I don't know what my sign will say yet, but you can bet I'll be canceling my membership in the Ancient Order of Hibernians.




















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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18 March 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

How I Almost Got My Ass Kicked at the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Lived to Tell About It
David Kruidenier

The Protestant 'Pat Finucane'
Father Sean Mc Manus, President, Irish National Caucus

Green Party Declines White House Invitation
Green Party Press Release

Assembly Needs an Opposition
David Adams

Belfast Hot Air
Anthony McIntyre

Citizen Tom
Dr John Coulter

A History of Nationalism in Ireland
Liam O Ruairc

Review of Challenging the New Orientalism
Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

Two Sides of a Coin
Dr John Coulter

Anthony McIntyre

Sinn Fein Batmen
Brian Mór

Launch of
Colm Mistéil

Reject the 'New' RUC
Republican Socialist Youth Movement

32 County Sovereignty Movement: Water Charges Are Illegal
Kevin Murphy

The National Irish Freedom Committee on Gerry McGeough
National Irish Freedom Committee

NIFC Free Form Video Discusses Elections, Abstentionism
Saerbhreathach Mac Toirdealbhaigh

America's 'Global War On Terrorism'
M. Shahid Alam

Iñaki de Juana Chaos
Anthony McIntyre

14 March 2007

Legal Aid Wrangle Continues
Michael McKevitt Justice Campaign

Statements on the Arrest of Gerry McGeough

Campaign for Noel Maguire
TJ O Conchúir

Paisleyites & Peelers
Anthony McIntyre

Equating Spectacle at Stormont with United Irishmen is Perverse
Tommy Gorman

Seacht mbuicéad caca go dtite ar a gcinn
Michael Gillespie

Nothing But the Truth
John Kennedy

Snapshot, 1993: Voters' Rights, MI5 Wrongs
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

Broad Church for Unionism
Dr John Coulter

The Man Without the Mask
Anthony McIntyre

The New Boyne Harriers
Brian Mór

UUP Possibilities
Dr John Coulter

Blinkered Vision
Anthony McIntyre

Damned by Debt Relief
Pauline Hadaway



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