Our bizarre obsession with words

An English depiction of an Irishman.

Sitting in my landlord's backyard in England the subject of oats came up. I mentioned that there is a reason the Irish and Scots eat oats.

With great disdain in his voice, he remarked, "Well, the Irish eat oats because they're stupid!"

Then he looked at me in panic. I could see that, for the first time since I had known him, he had suddenly connected my last name with my ancestry. He immediately began trying to suck the words back into his mouth: "Of course, I'm joking! I'm joking!"

I smiled sardonically, and gave a little shrug. "Looks like rain tomorrow, hey?" I asked. The conversation moved on.

And if I wanted to obsess over such trivia, I could probably fill a notebook with hundreds of other "micro-aggressions" against my background: "You're Irish, so you must love to drink, right?" Wait a second, in fact, every St. Patrick's Day, I could walk around New York and record thousands of "micro-aggressions": "Ah, you're celebrating my heritage by getting drunk until you puke into the gutter! I see."

But really, come on: we live in a world where people are beheaded for the ethnicity or religion, where they are slaughtered in concentration camps for their ancestry, where they are blown up because they practice a different version of their religion from the people who blew them up. My ancestors lived as a subject population in their own land: they faced severe discrimination in ownership and voting rights, and were starved to death in vast numbers. These things, my friends, are macro-aggressions, worth complaining about. You know what micro-aggressions are? They are the little shit we should overlook, so we can try to get along peacefully.


  1. I have to admit that, as someone who is Irish, "Mr. G-Orilla" is clever.

  2. Very true. It needed to be said. But I doubt the sincerity of the people complaining about the so colled micro-aggressions. It sounds more like a tool for personal benefit. Anti-racism is quite an industry now, and the end of racism would be a bad new for them.

    Have you followed the last round of regional elecction in France ? No less than the president of the National Assembly, the socialist Bartolone, accused his opponent who comes from Versailles, to be a defender "the white race", to make sure that our minorities would vote for him, as well as the sensitive leftists.

  3. Gene, if you had knocked that wiseguy landlord out, I would buy you a Guinness.