By Wuhan Wong
When mentioning St Patrick’s Day, one often conjures the alluring images of green clad leprechauns and soft harps playing on a green pasture. Some take this day as an opportunity to pompously display their Irish heritage, while others use it as an excuse to consume vast quantities of alcohol. However, the geographical region most associated with this day, Ireland, serves as an exemplary display of how identity politics is dangerous.
After the Tudors conquered Ireland in the late 16th century, the English crown facilitated the growth of plantations. The plantations were tracts of land given to Protestant settlers to civilize the Catholic natives. This project was accelerated after Oliver Cromwell conquered the island in 1651. The Catholic Irish and the Protestant settlers did not get along. The Cromwellian era sowed the seeds for discontent, as Irish were killed en masse. The Parliamentarians, English Kings, and eventually the British Empire used ethnic divisions as a tool to divide, conquer and subjugate the island. Protestant yeomen looked with contempt upon the Catholic majority, viewing them as backwards papists. Similarly, Catholics saw the settlers as invaders and heretics. This clash of cultures caused several Jacobite Risings, famines, and eventually led to the formation of an Irish Republic in 1922 and a volatile Northern Ireland.
More recently in Northern Ireland, the Troubles serves as another example of how sectarianism is exceptionally volatile. After the rise of a Catholic civil rights movement and Bloody Sunday, in which members of the Para Regiment opened fire on Catholic protestors, a socialist extremist movement called the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) emerged. The PIRA styled themselves after the IRA of the 1920s but used more terrorist tactics to achieve their ends. They planted bombs, mortared government buildings, established no-go-zones, and murdered soldiers and civilians, Protestants and Catholics alike. On the other side, Ulster loyalists waged their own insurgency and terror campaign. A third faction, the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, sought to keep order, although they had a loyalist bias. Certain parts of Belfast were exceptionally dangerous. British armored personnel carriers roamed the streets. The PIRA also took their campaign to England, planting bombs in Hyde Park and nearly killing Margaret Thatcher.
What is the cause of all this conflict? The English tried to settle Ireland, and, under the pretext of civilizing the indigenous populace, conquered the land and natives there. This failed, and although thousands of Irish emigrated or starved, the Catholic population remained, and eventually waged a successful separatist movement. Although Ireland was initially a settler colony, it was eventually incorporated as a core territory by the Act of Union 1800. A new ethnic group formed from Protestants appeared in Ireland: the Anglo-Irish. The Anglo-Irish served as a ruling elite, epitomized by one of its most famous associates, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington and Prime Minister in the 1830s. Because of the failure to dislodge the Irish, Ireland transformed into a “salad bowl” society, with a well established Protestant minority. During this era, the Anglo-Irish still had disdain over the local Catholics. The Protestant identity was immiscible with the Catholic population. This was exemplified by the potato famine when British MPs provided little assistance to Ireland. Here, the mother country ignored the needs of its supposedly equal kingdom and people. In fact, some MPs regarded it as a blessing as it depleted the opposition and praised it as an example of Malthusian theory in action. Both factions were divided into their unique sects, which combined their ethnic group and their religion. Caltholic Unionists and Protestant Nationalists were therefore extremely rare. With each group forming unique identities, tribal violence erupted. It is worth mentioning, however, that most Protestants and Catholics did not approve of violence and tensions have died down since the Good Friday Agreement. But the fact that a large minority of both populations both hated each other enough to conduct paramilitary operations speaks to the destructiveness of identity politics.
From the history of Northern Ireland, it is reasonable to conclude that multiculturalism leads to sectarianism and identity politics. Upon looking at how identity politics and multiculturalism are being utilized by contemporary American media, one would think they are the cure for all social ailments. If that were the case, the Austro-Hungarian Empire would still exist on the globe. Even a former state of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia, split into Czechia and Slovakia. The same can be said for Palestinians unwilling to integrate into Israeli society. If multiculturalism has a large record of failure, why is it so popular among universities and public schools? Multiculturalism is often conflated with multi-ethnicism, which in comparison is an acceptable concept. One local example is how the Multicultural Research Center encourages “diversity”. For instance, giving a list of restaurant suggestions to students based on the most superficial of factors, that of “minority owned” businesses, facilitates sectarianism. The free market should decide which restaurants students go to spend their money on. Arbiters of multiculturalism are encouraging cultural enclaves within this country. Instead of encouraging Americans to emphasize their own cultures and identities, they should encourage Western principles, the institutions ought to encourage Western culture. Naturally, this should not be forced at gunpoint, but merely supported by institutions. This is called the melting pot, and it is the best option when assimilating different cultures.
Recall as the British used identity politics to incorporate Ireland, bad faith actors are using the same ideology to divide and conquer the United States. Of course, multiculturalism is always beneficial to a certain sector of society; the enforcers of identity politics in academia, people who cannot be employed in other sectors, and politicians who need validity for election. The entire system is a massive scam, designed to keep the hoi polloi in check. The next time you hear the common university talking point, “Diversity is our strength”, instead, keep in mind how identity politics inevitably leads to a fragmented society.