Get it right this St. Patrick’s Day: “How the Myth of the ‘Irish slaves’ Became a Favorite Meme of Racists Online.”

Fakery of a different hue (and IBU).

The imminent arrival of Faux Irish Amateur Hour, sometimes called St. Patrick’s Day, offers the ideal opportunity to dispense with a fake “fact” that I’ve seen far too much lately.

It bears repeating that the Southern Poverty Law Center is an excellent source of bona fide information on a variety of repugnant topics (racism, discrimination, white supremacists). To make the point, I’m keeping the pull brief. However, there’s much more, so click through and prepare for a bout of head shaking.

How the Myth of the “Irish slaves” Became a Favorite Meme of Racists Online, by Alex Amend (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Briefly stated, what are the historical claims behind the “Irish slaves” meme?

It broadly claims that indentured servitude and penal servitude can be equated with racialized perpetual hereditary chattel slavery. It proclaims that an “Irish Slave Trade” was initiated in 1612 and not abolished until 1839, and that this concurrent transatlantic slave trade of “white slaves” has been covered up by “liberal,” “cultural Marxist” or “politically correct” historians.

The various memes make many claims including (but not limited to) the following; that “Irish slaves” were treated far worse than black slaves; that there were more “Irish slaves” than black slaves; that “Irish slaves” were worth less than black slaves, that enslaved Irish women were forced to breed with enslaved African men, and that the Irish were slaves for much longer than black slaves.

This is then invariably followed up by overtly racist statements, e.g. “yet, when is the last time you heard an Irishman bitching and moaning about how the world owes them a living?” The “Irish slaves” meme is a subset of the “white slavery” contemporary discourse which emphasizes class over race and is fueled by a potent cocktail of bad history, false equivalence, conspiracy theories, and reductionist fallacies.