The WIC (White Irish Catholic) Elite, pt. I: How to buy off rival ethnic groups
March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
IT’S A FOUR-FOR-ONE! This entry is in celebration of not only Casimir Pulaski Day (in the State of Illinois); it’s also in celebration of Black History Month (retroactively), the upcoming pope change, and St. Patrick’s Month, all in one!
In a book about his career as press secretary for the late Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, Frank Sullivan touched upon the difference between political smarts and political stupids.
For instance: Polish-American aldermen had won a years-long court battle to rename Crawford Avenue to Pulaski Road, in honor of the Revolutionary War hero. In a City Council session, the Poles came forth, one after the other, to gloat about their great “victory.”
What did Daley, and his floor leader, Alderman Keane, think of this?
Keane and Daley were thinking, “poor fools” — twenty-five years of political activity to change the name of a street while, during that time, Irish politicians were handling all the jobs, making all the appointments, slating candidates for office, and controlling all contracts. No Irish politician in the history of the world ever thought the name of a street was important.
Daley had a keen, innate sense of the weaknesses of people and ethnic groups, and used them to great advantage. Daley knew
that black politicians, who had a special responsibility to remain loyal to their constituents, often were among the first to be bought; blacks also wanted mayoral proclamations – proclamations honoring Muhammad Ali, Elijah Muhammad, proclaiming Nancy Wilson Day in Chicago, Lou Rawls Day, etc. No Irish politician ever asked that a day be proclaimed in anybody’s name. But each day the Mayor’s office was besieged by black politicians seeking to have days proclaimed.
In this way Daley was not unlike other Irish-American bosses, like Boston’s James Curley, who liked to buy off the Italian-Americans on the cheap. They didn’t get any political offices, contracts, or other real privileges, but
he would arrange, as a substitute, to put up a new statue of Garibaldi, Mother Cabrini or Columbus. As a result, Boston to this day is filled with such statues as a reminder of how an ethnic group can be dissuaded for a while from attaining its rightful objectives.