Is Southie’s St. Patrick’s Breakfast an Anachronism?

Adrian Walker makes the argument in the Boston Globe:

Two of the oddest and least funny monologues were performed by Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral and Attorney General Martha Coakley. Their attempts to mine comedy from being women in politics didn’t work, to put it mildly.

Their failures were telling. The breakfast is, by design, a throwback: It harkens to a pre-busing Southie and a pre-diversity Boston, a world run by colorful and crafty Irish pols and their constituents. That is an idealized rewrite of history, but it’s enough to make some eyes misty.

The problem is that this nostalgia can’t be reconciled with real life. It is a fantasy that has little room for black governors or female attorneys general, or outsiders of any kind, really. Coakley, a tough and accomplished woman, adopted the persona of a silly broad to please the crowd. They pretended to think it was funny.

For something that is supposed to be a celebration, the breakfast has become a showcase for tension. No amount of warbling seemed to make the unease go away, and no wonder. The breakfast celebrates a past that most of us don’t long to return to.

I read the whole column and I don’t understand the criticism. If Walker didn’t find the jokes funny, then fine. But why is it unrealistic to expect black and female elected officials to be able to participate in a light-hearted event like this one? They should be just as capable of cracking jokes as the “colorful and crafty Irish pols.”

Walker’s unease at the event may stem from the perception that Irish Americans, especially those from South Boston, are racist and sexist. That’s a perception that’s attacked by another Globe columnist today.

As a side not to all of this, Walker is black and I am Irish American.

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