If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow Neo-Nazis into their parade? If African Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade? … People have rights. If we let the [Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization] in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?

—John Dunleavy, chairman of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, telling The Irish Times why lesbian and gay marchers should be kept off the streets, in the closet, on the other side of the rainbow, etc.

There are rules to follow when making analogies. One is that they be logically consistent. To my knowledge, there are no Israeli Neo-Nazis, or African American KKK members. But there are Irish gays and lesbians — including New York’s newly elected council leader, Christine Quinn, who condemned Dunleavy’s remarks.

Just how petty can the parade’s organizers be? They banned not just the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization but also the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, an advocacy group supporting undocumented Irish immigrants (an estimated 40,000 in the U.S.). Perhaps the organizers forget that many of their ancestors were terribly persecuted immigrants themselves, who escaped famine in their own land to face racism and poverty in America — back at a time when America’s borders were open and there was no such thing as an “illegal alien.”

That said, I have to admit I can’t get too worked up over this parade issue because I find all parades to be boring. I’m sure there’s something I’m missing here. But really, what’s so exciting about standing outside in frigid weather watching grown men in funny costumes walk down the street and wave? It’s so 19th century.

Which basically sums up the mentality of the parade’s organizers.

Victor Tan Chen

Victor Tan Chen is In The Fray‘s editor in chief and the author of Cut Loose: Jobless and Hopeless in an Unfair Economy. Site: victortanchen.com | Facebook | Twitter: @victortanchen

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