Skip to main content

tv   Michael Brendan Dougherty My Father Left Me Ireland  CSPAN  May 27, 2019 8:30am-10:01am EDT

8:30 am
>> look for these titles indie bookstores this coming week and watch for many of the authors on booktv on c-span2. >> thank you, everybody for coming. thank you. i am tim carney, a visiting fellow here at aei and we are here for a great conversation. it will be a conversation tonight about nationalism, nationhood, family, and fatherhood, and this excellent new book which i absolutely love, "my father left me ireland" michael brendan dougherty. in some ways w this is very different from what we do from
8:31 am
what i'm used to. i'm a scholar here at aei and we are the american enterprise institute for public policy research. we do lots of social science studies and, in fact, social science studies get a bad name in "my father left me ireland", but in a way that highlights what we have in common. the section that goes after how nationhood in the modern-day is often, , well, as he puts it, a nation today in modern way of thinking is often, quote, best problematic. it is at best problematic, is to useful administrative unit. that sectionon is tipped off by the author michael dougherty talking about singing to a newborn baby over and over again the same songs. the foggy dew, the wind that shakes the barley and even the patriots game which i tried to
8:32 am
sink in that lullaby way, liam clancy did. this is letter to me because i also sing my children asleep with iris so i mostly just irish rebel songs because a lot easier and i don't have the vocal cords that mr. dougherty does. these stories that we tell our children, this is another way of educating in addition to the public policy research type stuff we typically do here at aei, , and are virtues and peris of this. my story quickly befores. you bring up the author here is one of the perils, my son charlie was learning about world war ii and he turned to me and said, dad, i'm a little confused. are the british and the nazis the same thing? know, charlie. what are you talking about? on the same side of the bridge in world warar ii. we were on the same side as the british? suddenlye s i realized as a catholic family growing up with
8:33 am
the stories of st. thomas moore who was martyred by the british, a love of american which had to fight against the british at an irishness that you can come to understand the trenches over the bread guys -- bad guys i thought about the lullabies icing to all six my children it was given very about a rebel who went off and with his head held high was executed, and he was asked simply named her co-conspirators, and kevin barry answered no. and was sent off to his death. why do we sing these songs are chosen? not to demonize the brits at all but because we know the creation of a good populist, the creation of virtue, improving our world, the same thing we can do with public policy research and good policy, that all of that primarily is not the job of public policy researchers that of our poets and our storytellers. so here at aei is actually that we have, in my opinion, a
8:34 am
brand-new irish american poet and storyteller michael brendan dougherty who will give us a few remarks about his great book, "my father left me ireland." michael, thank you. [applause]pp >> i am michael brendan dougherty from national review. so i've had trouble in the last week this book is, people asking what is this book? it's hard to summarize sometimes in the 14 seconds before the commercial break interrupts you. so i'm going to quote with absolutely no vanity inn my heat at all a couple of reviews of
8:35 am
the book real quick, just to situate it. it was called a timeless tale of familial longing to andrew sullivan over at new york called it a heartbreaking poem to maternal love and sacrifice. alan jacobs called it a book about revisionist history but not in the usual sense of the term. it was also called by edward klein and i thought this was really good, and moving lyrical memoir about fatherhood at identity, a stirring defense of nationalism, and attack and a critique of some of the core assumptions of liberal modernity. it's also i would say fundamentally a romanceo book. so let me just set the scene here. i'm six years old and i'm sitting in the backseat of a car. my mother and father are in the
8:36 am
front seats. the morning before we flew into ireland, and as we were landing i pretend to count the shades of green in the fields as a circle above the a airport. i have to know if there were 40 like my schoolteacher said. but at this point in the back of the car we are looking out over the hood on a very deep gray sky, so gray that it is turning all the green grass blue. the wind iswi whipping around. this is possibly the oldest mimic michael mccaul of being with my father and one of the few i would make for several more years. my father has been talking to his job driving around ireland and delivering books. this is long for the eu built roads and highways that allowed you to try to ireland while missing everything that is beautiful and worthwhile about it. so driving was a long days work. he's smiling and usually at my
8:37 am
mother in a lovely way which was new to me, and as if he is trying to say to her, watch this. that's when he turns to me and informs me of our noble blood, the blood i have through him. did you know, michael, that you are descended from the hiking? did you know that? there are parts of the cars, the are torn. that there are parts of my fathers sweater that are threadbare. i noticed my father examining my reaction. you see, the point was that the irish blood, the irish royal blood, had cut gotten nothing impressive at all except it was still a boast over the whole earth. my mother later heart sickness over this man drive her crazy in a way. her parents listened to irish lullabies like to larue larue
8:38 am
love which was composed in detroit. but she started to think of herself as irish and her son as irish, she started studying the language, taking to these weekends in rural new york where you were forbidden from speaking the -- [inaudible] she started singing the songs and teaching of a bit of history through them. the history that he learned as a child was straightforward and heroic. of people coming out of captivity. colonization on one side and misrule on the other. irish people launched rebellions as catholic i confederates agait protestant usurpers, as united irishmen against misrule of westminster, as poor white boys tennis against their wicked landlords, as young iowans republicansre against the powerf the english monarchy. std nationalists against british imperialism. and finally as the irish nation
8:39 am
itself pitted against those who attempted to rob themho of their culture, their history, and their self understanding. it was rebellion itself that made you irish. what did i have to rebel against? i got tired of this view of ireland as a teenager. that phrase, people coming out of captivity was a kind of joke from historian roy foster about the accepted view of irish history that he and his contractors set out to destroy. and so the leaders of ireland's most the story rebellion were fit into a counter narrative. the national liberation promised by the rising became kind of a perverse joke. it was the moment and unelected body of radicals short-circuited the democratic process and instead of homepr rule, the irih are sent by this cold into the
8:40 am
anglo-irish war. the very exacting idealism of the rising becomes the cause of irish civil war. the irish lose decent english built institutions of have to turn towards a church that is corrupt and crony asked, and in odd twist this counter narrative a code racial and religious bigotry of hard-core unionist. you see, the conclusion is obvious. the irish catholics because of their irishness and catholicism were unfit for self-rule. that was the view of ireland's professional cast in the 19 '90s, and increasingly it was my view, too. what was ireland but this belching superstoree along the atlantic sending the riverdance, sending me courtland ashes and a hundred other wiki, ugly, disgusting cultural products coming out of the celtic tiger.
8:41 am
but something about this was s unsatisfying and i realize that the education i got, the one that taught mee to despise these things, was an education that wasn't really preparing me for anything about manhood. it wasn'tnh preparing me for dog the basic things you have to do in life, having children, raising them correctly. and eventually i did mary, and i found as my mother did when a child was coming to me, i suddenly was falling in love withal ireland again excitement back at these men, men like patrick pierce, in a different way.
8:42 am
pierce was come if you don't know, the son of an english stonecutter and anto irish moth. he did a little career in the law at the beginning of the 20th century before turning his mind to education. he founded a school and was going, it was an experiment to secondary school for boys. it was a national spectacle with the boys put on place. he taught them and irish. it was an irish medium education. he taught them irish sport, particularly hurling. h he denounced the education system that english is set up and i as a murder machine. and he's writing about it. he compared it to the separate education system that was set up for slaves in antiquity. he wrote to the children of the free were taught our noble and google things which will tend wo make them strong and proud and valium. from the children of the slaves,
8:43 am
all such dangerous knowledge was hidden. they were taught not to be strong and valiant, but to be sleek, to be obsequious, to be dexterous. the optical dot to make them good men but to make them good slaves, and so in ireland. sleek, obsequious and dexterous. i remember reading these words with my sleeping newborn infant daughter in my lap, and thinking this is harvard and yale and every prep school and every product of those prep schools i've ever met in this trade of journalism and in washington, d.c. the idea of becoming strong and proud and value valium was somi was taught in school to laugh at. i wasn't taught that directly. i wasas taught that by educatio. so i had to confront this man pierce.
8:44 am
pierce was a home rule it. he was a like everyone else and a democrat in 1910, 1912 went home rule was first passed. but as he saw it undermined and subverted, at the he joined the, hard-core nationalists, as many otherss did. and he wrote this essay ghosts, which is been formative in irish history ever since, both for good and for ill. the irish proverb, , woe to him that do evil and is poor after it. the man who led ireland for 25 years haveed done evil and they are bankrupt. in policy,nkrupt bankrupt in credit, bankrupt now even in words. they have nothing to proposed ireland, no wayay of wisdom, no counsel of courage. when you speak they speak on untruth and blasphemy.
8:45 am
their utterances are no longer the utterances of men. they are m the mumblings of lost souls. they built uponri an untruth. they had conceived of nationality as a material thing were as it is a spiritual thing. they made the same mistake and man would make if you were to forget thatat he has an immortal soul. they have not recognized their people the image andop likenessf god. hence the nation to that is not holy thing. i think a man dare sell or dishonor. theyey thought of nationality aa thing to be negotiated about as a negotiate about a terrorist or about a trade route rather than as an immediate jewel to bring preserved against all terrell, i think so sacred that it may not be brought into the marketplaces at all. or spoken of where men traffic. pierce was announcing this generational curse on the home
8:46 am
rulers who had tried to bargain with an empire that would not bargain with them. a parliament that last in their faces, a king that worked with members of the parliament to subvert the democratic achievements of filing with in it. my use of this essay in this book was brought up w to me the other day on irish radio. the host of the radio show said it's disdainful of democracy. its extremist demands have a good uncomfortable in irish history ever since inspiring cadres of men of violence to take things into their own hands. in fact, pierce wasn't totally disdainful of democracy. it was onlyoc on this one issue
8:47 am
when the nation was a holy thing toto be preserved against all terrell. whether people would recognize ze likeness of god and its life. the radio host was correct about my intentions with that passage and with this book. i have borrowed the generational curse. i believe in ireland today, life brand image and likeness of god has been denied and transgresse transgressed. and that this crime goes down with the blessing of democracy, is not less than the guilt but increases machine. shane is general dahl. it's not just specific to recent events in ireland. it is a shame of a whole generation that believed by liberating itself from the
8:48 am
taboos and prejudice of a previous age it would find real freedom. and what it got instead was they were liberated from responsibility, from care from their own children. and fatherlessness is now common in america. becoming common in ireland. so this book is an odd book. the joy ofe my life was discovering in my childhood that i suddenly faced with this daughter was doing the same crazy things my mother did. we tend to think of parenting as we extending ourselves and in e future when we think of it biologically. but but i noticed in this book t it actually works the reverse way, that my child sent me back to my p parents, that my child would giveiv me looks that i wod recognize as my mothers looks or my fathers, that the needs of my
8:49 am
child had impressed upon me of duty to go to my parent and ask them what to do. i noticed also that it was my parents, my mother in particular, was impelling me towards the future. it was she who was bothering me with some off her dying breath o give her eight grandchildren. i've only gotten three so far but we are working on it. and so i found that pierce was right when he talked about the hand of the past weighing on the present for the future. my mother weighed on me to get on with life, to become a man, to become a father. history weighed upon these revels in 1916 the man up, to do something for posterity. now, that biological connection ct my father, the joy of my life
8:50 am
after my daughters birth had been making the fact of my irish fathers heritage the biological fact into the real social fact, and he sees my grandchildren more than he saw me. he sees them, he saw his granddaughter in the first days ofof her life where he didn't se me for nine or ten months. and so this book is a romance of fatherhood. my father and i missed each other in my boyhood. and only found each other late in a good romance novel. and so i come back to that story of the t car where he informed e of my royal blood, that implanted something in me, that story, and it implanted this longing foror him and this recognition of his longing for
8:51 am
me. and somehow we navigated the misunderstanding. and so i accept now my fathers own absurd boast that as irishmen, even ones with american accents, we are crowned with sad songs, mary rebellions, and foolish, absurd sacrifices that annoy everyone else. my daughter runs into his lap and she calls him granddad unselfconsciously. and i wouldn't trade that for all the spice in india, all the raw materials and oil in iraq, or any of the tea that they dumped in boston harbor. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, michael. and where welcoming to the stage our respondent chris caldwell. chris is the editor at the
8:52 am
claremont review of books. he himself is writing his second book, so if there's anybody fit to comment on a book, it's christopher caldwell. anyway, c chris, least tell us what you think is most interesting and important about this book. >> i think almost everything about this book is interesting and important. michael said earlier that it was hard to describe what the book was about. i think icr can describe it, its fairly easily, you know, you have basic situation here that he was brought up by his mother who, and left by his father. and so if you look at, you know, it sounds like, sounds sort of like it actually resembles the autobiography of our most famous irish-american, our last president actually, right?
8:53 am
if this is a kind of richer and more ambitious and more literary attemptar to bring two stories together. if you look at the title of this book, "my father left me ireland," that's the title of two macbooks. the first book is my father left me, and the second book is ireland, okay? so there's something in this first book, you have a really sad, it's a very raw american book of the sort that i wish people can't really write. there's a sort of, there's a sort of self revealing autobiographical think of the sort that americans don't, american truly excel at end other people don't. could i read something? >> please. >> do you might have someone read? >> no, no, no. i mean, i want everyone to read it.
8:54 am
>> i'd like to read you r a passage which is a perfect description i think of something a lot of children of divorce will kind of share. i sat in my grandmothers rocking chair dressed in uniform of my catholic school. gray slacks, a white dress shirt and a maroon cotton tie. i stared down at my black shoes and across the expansive blue carpet to you, , that's his fatr who he is addressing, in the seat across from it. and you told me news. your wife was pregnant. your wife? i let myself forget. and so you are having a child soon. i was going to be a brother. technically, half a one. how was i a brother to someone who is not my mothers child? what did you need to be a big brother to some 3000 miles away? was i going to be to them, and in place on relative i would never see? being a child, i couldn't even
8:55 am
ask these questions. the one skill i had to the point when adults was intuiting the exact response they wanted to solicit from the and giving it fully. but the strategy with failing in that moment. what did you want from the? what did my mother want? i was falling silent. i was crying. you had to get in the car and go. neither of us got to see how hard this was on the other. in a few minutes i would run out of the house venturing halfwit of the avenue under the delusion i i would make it to school before neighbors return me to her in a seven-year-old child sobbing that way he longed, his home. but in that moment you gave me a goodbye hug and a reassurance that you are still my father, and that nothing will change between us. all i ever wanted was for things to change. i had never thought of, thought any of it through until then. i didn't really know why you
8:56 am
lived 3000 miles away. i just knew enough not to ask, but this announcement revealed to me the secret hope in my heart, okay? so this is the raw material which this book is built, and as michael has described, he started to study ireland, which is kind of a sad thing when you think about it. but there is the raw material of a very kind of interesting resolution to this problem in the history of ireland, and without being formulaic about it, ever, he sets up a parallel in the course of this book which i will describe without hoping not to dampen the experience of reading this book for anybody. but you know, this book is really not, it's not about the
8:57 am
mythology of ireland and the great, you know, the lords of ancient time and brian peru and all that stuff it's actually about, it's actually kind of a close study of thedy easter risg in 1916. so it's sort of about the ideological origins of the easter rising in the same way, if you know the book about the ideological origins of the american revolution. and what i think he finds, and correct me if any of this is nonsense, but that it's not so much af release of a nation from captivity but the rise of a nationnt into identity. an interesting thing about all of these people in the different ways, really spectacularly and in a very still outweigh, but for all the people who are involved in that pricing, it was about claiming an idea of
8:58 am
ireland for themselves. and here it becomes extremely subtle. it's about an assertion of one's identity. it's about, it seems to be about an assertion of identity that ireland had never had before, like these people are founders. but once the rising is over and once the civil war starts, it becomes clear that they did have that identity, you know? that they had it by wishing for it. you know, and that is the sort of, that is what he is seeking in a sort of paramount way. ih won't go into too much detail but that is what he's seeking in his own family in a paralleled way.
8:59 am
>> i i mean, i was running these stories together. it was, , what was interesting o me is there's all this ideological gobbledygook that gets spoken upic about the eastr rising, and, but some of it is actually useful. people talk aboutal how both the zionist movement to establish israel and the irish national movement were attempts by the participants to recapture or instantiate their manhood or their nations manhood, that they had been conceived of themselves that they gotten used to conceiving of themselves as victims in history, almost gotten comfortable with the label. and one of the reasons at the rising in 1916 was so transformative for irish life
9:00 am
was that for 30 years, basically from 1898, well, 20 years, 1890 1890-2016, irish have been fulfilling this cultural movement of renaissance, sports, language revival, ballads, plays on the theater stage. .. >> the sentimentality into political action, into reality. and in the same way, in a much
9:01 am
smaller parallel way, i'm borrowing their wish until it becomes true, in my own life, in the sense, will my father to become the father he should have been. >> we wanted to ask you about the writings on europe and where it's going now, using-- the universality of it, i'm timothy patrick carney, and some of the very first people to react to your book were jewish friends of ours and you explicitly talk about zionism, the parallel between hebrew and the irish language, but there's other, i think, parallels to other cultures. so talk about that. >> well, i mean, you see-- the irish nationalism of 100
9:02 am
years ago, you know, some of these bare similarities, the interest were interested in national movements in czechoslovakia, in hungary, in india, later many of the irish leading would meet with indian figures, both in india and new york and talk about disestablishing british rule in their territory. you know, you also see some of the same romance in polish nationalism at the end of world war i. i mean, the one-- the one nation who comes out of world war i feeling totally vindicated probably is poland, that seeing the idea of their nation resurrected after a century in the grave. so, yeah, there's a commonalty among nationalists and people
9:03 am
remark today, like the fact that nationalists or national conservatives in poland talked to the ones in hungary or talked to other ones in france or brazil as if it's some sort of betrayal of their ideas when, in fact, it's just a common way: you know, it's just the way that conservatives or liberals or socialists talk across border. there's nothing about nationalism that for bids you collaborating with and hoping for the good of similarly minded people in other nations. >> yeah, yeah. you know, michael has written, i think, very intelligently and very independently, certainly, about nationalism in europe, and if there are common things and there's a nationalist, arthur griffith somewhere in the 19th century, went to hungary and taught himself
9:04 am
hungarian and wrote a book hungarian nationalism. michael, if you don't mind me reading a passage again. i think the interesting thing about nationalism that comes in this book and i want to stick with this idea that it is working in parallel to this, this trauma of personal identity in his family, is that nationalism is a-- this is one of the things that makes michael's journalism on the subject so interesting. nationali nationalism-- nationalism is about strength as its adherence say, but arises from weakness as its detractors say and it's a rare person who can keep both of those things in mind at the same time and one of them was
9:05 am
owen mcneil the historian that michael just spoke of and i'll quote his passage about that. mcneil's enemy was not just the english, of course, but the lassitude of the irish. this is one of the least aspects known about nationalism. i'm surprised that this misunderstanding could even grow up in ireland. nationalism usually does not spring from the meatheaded conviction that one's nation is best in every way, but something from a panicked realization that nobody in authority or around you is taking the nation seriously, that everyone is engaged in some private enterprise, while the common inheritance is being threatened or robbed. it might put on a mask of invinceability, but it does so in full, fearful knowledge of the nation's vulnerability. >> i mean, ireland-- no one in ireland thinks ireland is the best at just
9:06 am
about anything, right? no one thought like we have always been the greatest at, you know, industry, invention, philosophy, the common is much more sopian and comic than that. this cultural nationalist movement did end up producing a national literature that's the rival and probably the pound for pound champion of western europe in the 20th century. and so, it's funny though that political nationalism is misunderstood even this ireland. part of it is of course the reaction, i talked about the 90's of anti-nationalism in ireland. was born of real suffering and sorrow inflicted on the island
9:07 am
by the troubles and by men in the provisional ira who put on the mantle of the 1916 rebels, not for a week, as the rebels did, not in this almost doomed attempt to you know, serve the national honorably. the 1916 rebels, they marched into their captor's hands in columns. pierce turned over his sword to a commanding officer on the other side at the battle. that was not the provisional ira's tax particular in the '70s, '80s and early 1990's. and so there was a kind of highly motivated view, highlight motivated determination to tear down the nationalist mythology and in fact, you know, the idea of this motivated revisionist history is still with ireland in 2016 as ireland was
9:08 am
celebrating the events i was watching and singing these songs to my infant daughter while these events are going on and rte, the national broadcaster put together its most expensive production, a dramatic about a rebellion and in it patrick pierce is portrayed quite literally by a danish filmmaker as a religious on part with the islamic state. blood thirsty for the blood of children. compared to the rebels of isis, were so common and such a sign of faux sophistication and faux intellectual achievement in ireland that even sir bob geldoff got on television to make the same comparison and this is obviously motivated by
9:09 am
ireland's attempt to secularize irish institutions, to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage and tear down the position of the church. and so, one of the things i've tried to do in the book is talk about when we're looking back at our history, i admit that we're always going to take to it our motivations and our desires and our ambitions, and so the question becomes, well, what are your ambitions and desires and how about that govern your understanding? and my search in this book, the search for home, is an attempt to search for something better within myself and in doing so, i find this noble story. >> well, could i ask you about one, what seems to be a big temptation in that search, particularly when you're talking about the exact moment you were growing up, that is, you seem to be a person who hit his teens in the mid 90's before september 11th, which is
9:10 am
a time in the united states when if for lack of a better term, kind of irony had full re reign. everything was ironic and sort of like spongebob sort of like-- that was the world view of the culture at the time. you seem to have made a sort of a conscious decision about ir irony at some point. there seemed to have been people urging you to resolve what i'm -- whatever problems you were having with your own sense of belonging or whatever, you seem to have felt that you were being urged to resolve that by declaring all your conflicts basically meaningless, basically, you know, i don't have a father, but no one else really has a
9:11 am
father anyway. no one really has anything to be proud of anyway. ireland's a-- you know, got a crummy history, but none of these countries are really worth fighting for. is that-- when did that come together in your mind? and do i have that right? >> well, i mean, it's something i understood more and more in retrospect, that since my-- the formation i was given curly, right, the book is also about the-- how the culture raises children as well, right? the culture, a home sits within this larger complex. the homeland or the culture and that has its influence on children and what i got from my education from the fashionable things like, you know, these kind of silly books that have some truth to them, but bring to, say the study of history, a
9:12 am
demythologyizing attitude like why has my teacher told me or, you know, the way people recommend to you, a people's history of the united states by howard zinn or something like that. >> which all of us have read completely cover to cover. >> yeah, we've all read it. but the attitude i discovered over time, i mean, it wasn't obvious to me when i was a teenager because i was a callow teenager was that this was dissolving any sense of duty, right? and in a sense, i was being thrown back on myself by the culture and instead of the culture and my family and my mother and teachers would have been a party to this in some ways. they were afraid of exercising authority over me, of telling me what i ought to like, what i ought to love, and so the culture's message was be true to yourself and what i think a lot of people my generation
9:13 am
coming up in the '90s found was that we were much more tyrannical in the privacy of our own hearts than our parents would have been if they had stepped up to their role in our life and we were pitiless judges of ourselves. you know, if you don't know how to-- if you don't know what is virtuous, then every defect, even the ones that don't matter to you, your looks, your intelligence, all of that becomes reasons to abombinate yourself and-- >> that's right, michael and i grew up 20 miles apart and the same age. and a lot of public history was tearing down heroes, and so when i started to listen to the lyrics, especially of sort of irish rebel songs or, i mean,
9:14 am
the song appears again and again here of foggy dew, the men who fought a battle, literally, they took over a post office. so this is the easter rising in 1916. there's the pinnacle of it, if i'm correct, was taking over a post office, you know, a few hours. >> days. >> a few days, and that, before getting wiped out, that somehow this thing, which in a tactical thing from a narrow lens accomplished nothing, that the fact that the songs were written about them made them win and the fact that they found their graves by pierce's side, as the lyric goes, that that was worth fighting, that's almost i am possibly sentimental to express in today's society and especially in the ironic days of the 1990's when our wars were--
9:15 am
the vietnam war had set the tone that wars were pointless and we were doing wars in somalia or bosnia or whatever, but these men gave their lives for something that didn't accomplish anything. it accomplished everything. it was almost embarrassed to sign up to the sentimentality of that. >> and the idea that every political idea is a mask for power and lippings. in fact, you know, it's not just confined to the '90s, that attitude, cynical attitude to all ideas and even all persons exists in popular entertainment. i mean, one of the things that's kind of funny, i think about it -- don't write this in the book, but something in the back of my mind is this sit com, have you ever seen modern family, right? the sit com portrays all human beings in a family and bottomlessly cynical and manipulative, and the only
9:16 am
redeeming feature is when they are caught out and they just acknowledge their bottomless cynicism, right? like this is actually a -- you know, it's played for laughs, it's funny this idea of the family as a hobsonion war all against all, but i can't now watch an episode of that now without wanting to blow my brains out. >> i don't think that the irony is confined to the '90s. the only reason i mention the '90s it's when you were being formed and asking these questions most forcefully and i think that 9/11 actually brought the shadow of reality over irony and put an end to irony as a sort of a pure, as a pu pure-- an interesting aspect of this book on both the personal
9:17 am
memoir type level and on the political philosophy type level, is a kind of a-- a sort of a paralax out of time, being caught out of time which i think is very important in ireland because in a way, we are now at the high-- in a way we're sort of at the high point of irony or let's say of distance. of ironic distance. if you look at the -- if you look at brexit in england now. i mean, i think that the key way that brexit has been derailed is through the issue of the irish border and the key thing that the opponents of brexit have been able to argue is that if you return to a hard border, which never really had. but if you were to establish a hard border between the six
9:18 am
counts of northern ireland and the rest of the county of ireland, you would go back to the bad old days. you would violate the spirit of the good friday agreement of the late '90s. and what makes the good friday agreement possible is probably an eroding sense of nationalism on both sides of the border and ultimately, an eroding religious faith in both side of the border so that it came to matter less that every-- that people on this side were also protestants and this people on this side were catholics in the irish republic and what mattered was that we were all good europeans. >> i think that's a good challenge for mike. i want him to answer in a second and i want you all to think of your questions for the rest of us. so think of your questions and put your hand up and isn't that like if you love peace, shouldn't the erosion of the nationalism and the erosion of the stubborn catholicism and
9:19 am
protestantism be a good thing? you'd find around at the average pub around dublin right now. >> yes, you would. the problem in northern ireland is, you know, they've reif he ever had to themselves as communities, a unionist community and a nationalist community, that have duelling national loyalties. the-- i'm not sure i agree with chris that the identities have reseed reseed reseed reseeded-- receded in northern ireland. >> i would say they probably have. >> the identities still matters. and the attempts of the good friday agreement is to make the implications of them less obvious and less humiliating, although there are questions,
9:20 am
right? i mean, so the police service of northern ireland, there are no crowns that are worn on the police officer's uniforms, there are attempts to almost provide the illusion of-- that you're not living in a country that-- at all that has symbols, that the public or the state requires you to acknowledge, that all of the symbols have been reduced into the private sphere as well, even national identity, it becomes now almost in northern ireland, a private concern. and yet, it festers, it's undealt with. we saw a week ago, a dissident republican group claimed to be engaging the enemy by which they mean the police, and killing in the process a
9:21 am
journalist. my -- my fear is that the attempt to erase national identity is one, doomed, but if it were successful t it would be a cloment on the grounds that the anti--- a calamity on the ground that the anl nationalists would-- when you're not in the disputed lands in northern ireland or eastern ukrainement national loyalty allows protestants and catholics to live peacefully and live together and find their imaginations and sympathies to each other, just as national loyalty allows me to argue with, as your client one day over the telephone on a podcast about the deepest
9:22 am
issues of politics and yet, enable our sons and daughters, our sons to die for each other in a time of stress or war. but if we tore national loyalties down entirely in order to eliminate nationalism, what you would get is blood, tribe and creed becoming the objects that motivate us in war and prevent peace on a shared territory. >> could i just ask what you think of the-- what you think of the regime that came out of the 1916 easter rising? because if revolution is not going to be just self-actualization, there had to be some accountability to history somewhere. now, it looked, i think, for much of the 20th century right up into maybe the 1980's, like ireland had made an extraordinary bargain. it was probably less prosperous
9:23 am
than it would have been as a, sort of a dependent part of the british empire, but it was free, it was independent and it created a kind of extraordinary thing, which is a not quite capitalist economy. the only sort of noncapitalist economy that was not communist. it was really an extraordinary kind of society. since about the '90s, people in ireland have begun to repudiate it. they found like dd -- i know there's a lot of historical, wishful thinking about the past and you see it in places like spain, certainly. places living down regimes they don't like. it's almost as if they wish, do people want to repudiate it totally. what's your opinion about this society 80 or 90 years after the easter rising? >> it's funny, my father and i have different opinions on
9:24 am
this. he lived in that world and he-- when he-- i talk about it in the book how when he recalls the ireland of his childhood where he grew up in donny carney this kind of housing development in dublin for i would say it was the upper poor for lack of a better term. he said ireland was this dark place and he even pretends to be shivering thinking about it. my experience of ireland, my little fragmentary experience of ireland in the '80s was that it was warm, that it was a place of reintimacy, and ireland has this unique experience where the land reforms that were flished -- accomplished recreated a peasant economy in a place that
9:25 am
never -- when you exclude the six counties from the rest of the island, you have a country that didn't experience industrialization and so you have a re-peasanted economy and the catholic conservativism that goes along with it, then they never industrialized totally and make the transition in the '90 to this service financial economy and gives the place a unique character where it doesn't have, as you have in belfast or you have in detroit or liverpool or so many other places, a de-industrialized working class. so, it does provide a different flavor to irish society. one of the things that discredited this state, of course, was the experience of emigration in the 1950's, but again, another wave in the
9:26 am
1980's. the whole idea, right, one of the whole ideas if we're going to establish our own irish state, obviously, the problem of emigration should end. if we're governing ourselves, right? we can't blame it on the british. but it doesn't end. now, i would blame it on the british in some ways. the post-war british economy which was ireland's greatest trading partner, its crucial trading partner goes into total depression and near collapse in the post-war era and this is devastating to ireland. it's not that-- >> i'd say only in the '70s, really, did it go down the-- i think there was a lot of rebuilding in england up until the '70s. >> the post war socialist economy was not great for ireland because it, it sends
9:27 am
the british inward and looking for british forces within and imposes quotas and that effect irish exports. and so ireland exports people instead. to do the rebuilding in many cases. you know, dave's speech to ireland which we dreamed of, he outlines the idea of frugal comfort. it was a whipping boy in the 1990's. in fact, the speech was misquoted frequently. it was, you know-- >> is that the one where he talks about a superior standard of living? >> i don't know if he talks about the superior standing of living there, but the -- he talks about ireland devoting itself to fugel comfort and the spiritual life, what's interested, there was a little-- this became a point of shame
9:28 am
and sport in the 1990's as the celtic tiger ramps up. when ireland goes bust in 2008, some of the eminent irish historians, they were reviving this speech and wondering if there wasn't some wisdom in it for a small country and one of the funny things to do, i don't think any of them would ever admit to this, but this new generation of historians in ireland, they seemed to be slipping each other secret notes in their reviews in the eye wish times about how-- i think charlestown send wrote a review of fanning's book dave e alara's view was not as grim as orthodoxy has it and he lifted the line that skates.
9:29 am
the idea he's almost slipping in this knowledge that can't normally be published in the irish times that can be published in 2017, 2018, 2019. >> and raise your hands for the microphone and we try to make it-- the book that we're talking about "my father left me ireland", is for sale in the hallway afterwards and i'd encourage everybody to buy it. >> i'll sign. >> just a quick question about the romantic abstractionism about all of this sort of thing and my -- how can that be resolved, especially you would think that in a way, romantic extractionism of 1916, might incline people to swing back
9:30 am
the other way and romantically abstract about the other side of things in 2010 or whatever, and the -- i have just started to read it and reading about the cap and so forth. and it would seem that the fact that there was a great population and exile and the romantic abstractionism of exile and love for both real and imagined ireland, and something that had been taken away from people and so forth, would have a, i suspect, it has a metaphorical at least parallel to the reconciliation with an absent father, and so forth. so-- >> yeah, i mean, ireland, you know, in a way-- my advantage in writing this book is having access to a country like ireland through my father where the metaphor of a
9:31 am
nation as a home and as a home that might be broken or threatened or in some way troubled is more intuitive, right, than, you know, my father left me. in a post-'90s world where america seems unchallengeable that creates reality and inflicts history around the world while experiencing rather little of it itself, it wouldn't work. like i couldn't write my father left me america and have people understand that parallel. >> my father left me westchester county. [laughter] >> yeah, that would not work. i do want to speak to something though. the book is also written in full knowledge that there's a kind of long history in literature of the bad irish
9:32 am
dad, the drunkard, the failure, the dad from angela's ashes and i tried to subvert that and also subvert-- ireland has a funny attitude towards his diaspora, not only in northern ireland, but especially to america where many irish people don't know much about northern ireland, they don't understand the realities there and insulated from it and dublin in some ways have grown closer to london than belfast. actually i would say that belfast is further away from london and dublin than dublin and london are culturally. the irish attitude towards irish-america is one of full stinking derision. yeah, they don't particularly-- they hate the idea that yanks
9:33 am
are claiming to be irish and putting up all of this plastic green junk, which was a feature of my childhood that i now, weirdly, treasure in retrospect. >> before the next question, i'm just recalling somewhere on the west coast of ireland and encountered sort of this ironic, oh, your name is timothy patrick carney i bet you've got irish in you and visiting your family? i said, i don't know if i'm going to make it there. where is your family from? >> county roscommon. >> oh, i wouldn't go admitting that. [laughter] >> why, what's wrong? >> it's like this, and what's the place in america that's like roscommon? >> you mean west virginia? >> yeah, you wouldn't say west virginia, say galloway, plenty of fine folk. appreciative derision on the
9:34 am
west coast. and the cover town of dingo, a guy in a pub and i'm sure he's still there 140 years old. who is professionally a story teller to american tourists, he just sits there and nobody is around him. so you can't help, but go and sit next to him and ask him a story, buy him drinks and food. he doesn't need anything, but stories he completely invented growing up there. i think appreciative derision. anyway, questions, please. >> my name is christian orr, an irish, and erin go braugh-- and my dad's upbringing and ended up catholic thanks to my catholic mother god rest her
9:35 am
soul. the irish rebel songs. what's your take on the wolf songs or derrick warfield? are you fan of their music? is the relevant to this day, and do they resonates with the irish populace or-- >> the wolf tones, i think that people have a variety of opinions in ireland. i talk about and for effect i exaggerate the self-hatred or self-abasement or shame about irish nationalism in the 1990's. if you end up in-- irish people like everyone else have political disagreements and factualism. and this is tom friedmanesque, but in one cab, you know, one person will curse the shin fain and gerry adams. and another one will find out i know anything about patrick pierce and he'll divert the trip to all the sites in dublin
9:36 am
that force bombed and who came out of the pub bleeding and you know, what their cousins were like and all of that. so some people like the wolf tones, i'm not the biggest fan, but-- >> and there's interesting overlap, so i was brought up mostly on the clancy brothers, which stay on the safe side of these things. so the overlap of the wolf tones and the clancy brothers is like men behind the wire. the most ira song that perhaps the clans i is brothers sing, and it's-- but if you go further down and end up late enough at night at the right bar, i learned songs i never knew existed. i thought i knew the irish rebel songs until i was there late enough and in's and outs of bobby sands.
9:37 am
a small enough town and enough to drink and deep enough into the weeds of this and what we got in america from the clancy brothers, i don't want to say sanitized, but a little sanitized. they picked the easiest fights to mass market appeal in a neo liberal way to maximize profits while not irritating anybody. >> so, yes. >> the microphone is on its w way. >> my question is on the modern ira that came back. it seems to me that the nationalists are getting blamed, but they all seem to be marxists to me. they're all marxist internationalists, and i wonder within ireland or the nationalist movement, how -- it seems we get blamed for what is an internationalist movement there and how is it seen today in ireland? i don't know who these new guys are. >> yeah, so--
9:38 am
a little bit of history. in 1916, commonly these guys were-- >> yeah, you're right. there were in 1916 the irish volunteers led by owen mcneil and taken over by tom clark and patrick pierce and the brotherhood and joined by the citizen army which was a socialist force. . >> now, inherently internationalist-- >> no, connolly talked about how he would be abominated by his fellow by being a nationalist and seeking irish independence first. the modern provisional ira grew out of a split with a far left wing communist dominated ira in
9:39 am
the 50's and early '60s. mcginnis and gerry adams harkened back to more traditional catholic nationalist idea for the ira at first, but moscow was very interested in their grouping and forming because they were actually shooting at the british, whereas the stickies, the hard line communists were infiltrating irish media and seemed more like a debating society. i mean, one of the things about nationalism is, as a political movement anywhere that it tends to be opportunistic and if you're fighting a country that's seen as a capitalist power and there's a communist patron waiting for you, you will suddenly find yourself full of communists. the modern has moved progressively to the left. it's abandoned under machine
9:40 am
mcginnis, at one point it was a party in character and now it's secularist in character and internationalist about every question except the six counties and it's had had splits, you know, a politician has split over the pro-life issue and founded a conservative nationalist alternative. so, yeah. >> is authentic nationalism intrinsically democratic or do you think that there can be nondemocratic forms of nationalism that are worthwhile as well? >> that's a big question. there's a connection between-- i tend to think of nationalism as a feverish movement that springs out of a normally peaceful sense of national loyalty. one of the things about the
9:41 am
history of nationalism is that it-- it springs up and it achieves its goal and then it fades and splits and then it rises up again in the presence of another goal or irritant. it tends to be-- as you've all noted in the review of the book, modern nationalism tends to be connected with populism, the cop vixx that the elites are somehow failing us or failing the future. what do we mean by democratic. some of the 1916 leaders, the rising have been abominated as being an elite clatch of intellectuals that sometimes didn't care enough for the lives of the common people who joined their movement so nationalism also always has,
9:42 am
typically like many movements, has a divide between its leaders and the foot soldiers. >> i just want to say, for me, often trying to really learn irish history beyond the songs. >> right. >> was really dreary. that's one of the reasons i love your book is because just learning the details. how the initial reaction to the 1916 rising a lot of it was sort of negative, this anger from the streets of the people who had done this and brought about those-- brought the warships in, that was new to me and it's told sort of in a quick, light way, but sort of shocking because i had thought of the rise from slavery story. >> i mean, it's interesting, too, that the paper-- the newspapers-- this is during world war i, the newspapers are by censorship by the authorities and the first reaction of the newspapers is hang all of the newspapers is hang all of the communist thugs
9:43 am
that have destroyed dublin. the idea of-- some knew that the citizen army was involved because they recognize the uniforms and the symbolology of the movement, but when they found out it was all of these other poets and language activists and kind of respected, you know, upper middle class catholic figures, public attitudes start today change. what's funny, of course, to me and i note this in the book is 100 years later, the same exact thing noted in the irish independent or the irish times is denounced as theocratic or rebullion rebullion -- rebellion in the newspapers. the rising is understood by
9:44 am
people only later and without the approved commentators interpreting it for them. and that's why it enters into a people's ballads rather than just a think tank instead. >> not that there's thinking wrong with-- >> not that there's anything wrong with think tanks. up here. >> so we've talked a lot about the primary title, but not as much about the secondary, an american son's search for home. >> yes. >> you talk about essentially feels like the fracturing and reconstructing of a family and in your book, mr. carney, also this year, you talk about the fracturing and hopefully reconstruction of civil institutions to the united states. how much parallel do you see in each other's books and each other's thinking? >> i'll start with this. in -- when i was reading the
9:45 am
beginning of michael's book, one of the first things that occurred to me was the parallel, while i was working on alienated in america and the charlottesville attack happened. there was the guy who drove the car and tried to kill all the people and killed the woman heather heyer, he grew up in a couple of different places without a father and so that is the very skelton of this. >> so he's comparing me to a white nationalist terrorist. [laughter] >> i want to make that clear. >> and especially, born in jersey, that's certainly not-- >> another strike. >> and so, what i argue in alienated in america is the collapse of america and collapse of marriage is due to an erosion of strong community and it's not always easy to find it. and so michael's mother with
9:46 am
these said i need to give her something else. american society today, especially sort of suburban new jersey and new york, doesn't necessarily provide the infrastructure to build a family in the way that some places do. you know, 30 years before, the right neighborhood in philly, you're born to a single mother, you're in the parish and things of taken care of. it's not as easy as the 1980's. she gives him ireland. >> and to me to other civic institution, right, like the-- an american-irish language activist group and yeah, so there is that. you know, i thought the books were parallel in that you looked at the institutions of civil society and i was looking more closely at these relationships in the home. and in a sense, i joke to people that your book was a
9:47 am
meditation on burke's little platoons and mine was on his idea of society as this contract between the living, the dead and the unborn. you know, the experience of fatherlessness that i write about it in the book, it in a sense primes you for this skepticism that was fed to me generously in the '90s about authorities, about institutions, about their real purpose, because the primal fact of your life is that someone that supposedly owed you his time, his attention, his care and affection felt free to absent himself in some fundamental way and it's my belief that-- and i try to narrate through this experience that my children reconnected me to my father, to my deceased mother and to this national tradition
9:48 am
and so it does so in a very vivid way in my particular case, given the circumstances i was born into. but i think that it's true on a general level for society, that societies with lots of children are more humble before the past and more active and are forced to make these character building sacrifices for the bu future. >> i think that both books are a combination of a lot of the modern project, that, you, a lot of the people on left and right sign up for, which is sort of moving us away from the particular layerties of the prejudices of the past and general and universal and i use the word de-- and you used the word disinherited that we don't need these roots, the roots make us
9:49 am
suck. the inability to see the difference between stuckness and rootedness, and sometimes we hear people say what we need to do in the modern economy is just get people to give up on their hometown and move someplace else and sometimes that's right. but the idea that that is always right is the same project as the idea that we need to move beyond-- become more secular and mature. we need to move beyond the things that are dividing b, but the things dividing us are often things that make us belongs to something. and you remove the things that are dividing us, you're removing our ability to belong to anything on a human level. >> fundamentally, the-- you know, this project of liberation from constraint. it's not just about constraint of prejudices of past, what i'm saying in this book, it's an idea to liberate the
9:50 am
liberationist ideas not just from their parents, but to the duties of their children and i don't think it's a stretch to say that this isn't just an abstraction, right. you're saying i don't have enough respect for history. that's just part of it. but ultimately, we see these liberationist movements end in not just thoughtlessness about posterity and insolence before the past, but refusal to have children. abortion of unwanted children and euthanasia of the old. it manifests itself in actual bloodshed. and that's the shame in trying to escape and that's the condemnation i borrow from pierce that he gave to the home rulers who did not recognize the image and likeness of god.
9:51 am
that's what i have borrowed for the modern day. >> there's an interesting distinction in this book about-- so this book is about self-realization, but of a very specific kind. it's about-- it's about-- it's about finding yourself. it's not about inventing yourself, and it's interesting the way the father in this book gets dragged into this project. at the beginning it's clear that michael is trying to build a bridge to him and there is the risk there of sort of creating a romanticized image of him. and at the end of the book, i think this is a gradual thing, he actually emerges as a member of this cynical generation against whom michael is so harsh in so many ways. so it's a--
9:52 am
it's a book about reconciliation, but within that reconciliation, there are still ongoing areas of contention, it strikes me. >> i mean, it's an attempt to-- i talk in instruction i was trying to rebuild a home for my children, and the letters are an invitation to my father to get into the game, as it were, and he takes it first on this level with his children, and i think the hope of the book is that by addressing it to him in his personal way, as someone i actually long to love, not just to condemn and abominate, invites this freedom to talk between a generation of millennials or generation x-ers who felt in some ways that our baby boomer parents abandoned
9:53 am
us. not just literally by leaving a fatherless home, but by absenting their judgment and authority from the culture. >> we have time for one last question. well, we'll take-- those two there, back to back, and then we'll answer them after we get both of them. >> thank you so much for coming here and speaking about this very interesting book. i was wondering given the language that you use, very gendered language was used at the period of 1916 rebuellionre recovery of manhood. where does that leave women in the story and more importantly, what does nationalist project offer or not offer women, particularly given the sordid history of the magdalene laundries. and in spain a rallying cry against the violence against women act they do not like.
9:54 am
how do you reconcile that tension that might lead women to not support these projects. >> and we'll get the question and michael will answer whatever he thinks. >> without the question-- this would be somewhat different. my question is is there something distinctive about the political character of irish-americans that the rest of us should be aware of and be observant of? >> okay, i'll take the first question first. in 1916 the rebels were joined, you know, i mentioned the irish volunteers, the irish citizen army of connolly, but there was also a militant in many ways, women's movement, and it included many suffergettes and others, and the first to congress constance, who comes
9:55 am
out of that movement. she's this other daring and romantic figure in the movement and much loved even today in commemoration. one i think this that was not as noted in the centennials commemorating her was that after the rising, after her election to parliament and she abstained from taking her seat like irish-republicans did, she cited the memory of seeing the boys outfit, the boys prayer the rosary a factor in her conversion to catholicism and she wasn't the only protestant or unbeliever who was caught up in this movement that found herself afterward converting. now, the irish state afterwards, that was founded
9:56 am
afterwards, you know, many feminists complained in a sense it started circum scribing women's rights. divorce in the united kingdom. so you have two contrary movements where the 1916's include liberationists and feminists of that time, but then the state founded is dominated boo i -- by catholic institutions and to the question about the political character of irish americans, watch your wallet. [laughter] >> around us. but, yeah, in a moment's battle we will think of the old thought. i mean, we're american patriots. i mean, one of the funny things i think about, you know, the
9:57 am
movement in the united states where hundreds of union soldiers, union civil war soldiers just after the war enlist themselves in the irish republican brotherhood's insane plan of invading canada to ransom it for irish freedom. another doomed romantic rebellion. it's actually in a way defeating this as part of the canadian national myth. it wouldn't be bad to do a repeat of that war, i think. >> when i was studying platto's republic in college. there's a class called the guardian class, that's represented by dogs. their loyalty and their willingness to attack and i had a professor who once said to a mixed group said sometimes i think platto was pressaging irish-american catholics and
9:58 am
some people looked at me as i might take that as an insult and i took it as the highest possible compliment. so, again, outside we have a reception, it's usually just wine and cheese, i'm told this time we added beer, should have had whiskey, but you know, the protesta protestants in washington d.c. are watching us, not going to happen. most importantly is on amazon and other places books are sold "my father left me in ireland", you'll drink it down in one sitting. thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] every we are book tv cover book
9:59 am
festivals around the country. nearly 400 to date. a look at what's coming up may 29th through the 31st, book expo in new york city, the largest publishing trade fair in the united states. in chicago june 8th and 9th. following weekend the annual roosevelt reading festival at fdr pennsylvania library and museum in hyde park, new york. later in june, tune in for the coverage of the american library association conference held this year in washington d.c. for more information about upcoming book fairs and festivals and to watch our previous festival coverage click the book fair tab. book >> you're watching book tv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. book tv, television for serious readers. it's memorial day which means an extra day of nonfiction
10:00 am
authors and books. award winning biographer robert caro will discuss his writing process and republican senator mike lee of utah will weigh in on government overreach and hear from university of pennsylvania's catholic hall jamieson, aei president arthur brooks. ... lift." >> well, good evening. good evening, everybody. i'm bradley graham, the co-owner of politics & prose along with my wife, lissa >> good evening, everybody. i'm bradley graham, co-owner a f politics and prose. on behalf of everett at the h bookstore and all the great folks here at sixth and i, welcome. thank you very much for coming. every time we do a joint author event w


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on