When Are Irish-Americans Not Good Enough to Be Irish-American?”Racial Kidnaping” and the Case of the Healy Family
By A.D. Powell
Consider the following family history:
Michael Morris Healy, an Irish immigrant, arrives in the United States around 1815 and establishes a plantation near Macon, Georgia. Healy and his mulatto common-law wife, Eliza Clark Healy, have 10 children. All of the children are sent North to be educated, baptized as Catholics, and leave any social disabilities of Georgia behind them. The children achieve great success as Irish-Americans:
- James Augustine Healy became Bishop of Portland, Maine
- Patrick Francis Healy became the rector then President of Georgetown University (1873-1881).
- Michael Morris Healy, Jr. joined the United States Revenue Cutter Service, becoming a celebrated sea captain, the sole representative of the U.S. government in the vast reaches of Alaska.
- Alexander Sherwood Healy also became a priest, director of the seminary in Troy, New York and rector of the Cathedral in Boston
- Three sisters became nuns, one a Mother Superior.
Now, it must be emphasized that the Healy offspring were accepted as Irish American and “white” (whatever that means). The positions they obtained could not have been theirs if they had been black or even dark-skinned. Many other “white” people who knew about the Healys’ mixed-race origins accepted them as Irish-Americans. Are the Healys therefore entitled to be counted among the ranks of Irish-Americans and included in Irish-American history?
Not according to “black” elites and their “white liberal” allies. Years after their deaths, the Healy family is being claimed as “black” because of their achievements. As in the case of Anatole Broyard, the late New York Times book critic and essayist, if they can’t claim you when you’re alive and fighting, the hyenas try to “kidnap” your memory after you’re dead. James and Francis Healy have been betrayed by the Catholic Church they served so faithfully because insecure “black Catholics” want to claim “trophy” clergymen of high rank despite the fact that discrimination and lack of educational opportunities prevented real “blacks” from creating an impressive “resume” in the 19th century. James Healy is now being described as the first “black” American to be ordained a priest and the first “black” bishop. Georgetown University now claims that Francis Patrick Healy (photo right) was the first “African American” president of a predominately “white” university and the first “black” to obtain a PhD.. Some gratitude the Catholic Church has shown! It has insulted the memory of James and Francis Healy by effectively stating that they were not good enough for their Irish-American heritage but only fit to “improve” the “black race” with their “white blood.” The Healys must be turning over in their graves!
Captain Michael Morris Healy’s memory was recently tarnished by the United States Coast Guard, which named an Icebreaker, the U.S.C.G.C. HEALY (launched in 1997) after him. Normally, it is a great honor to have a ship named after you. It is an insult, however, when the ship is named after you so the U.S. Coast Guard can honor a “black” hero who was really Irish-American, at least 3/4 white, and identified as both white and Irish. In this case, someone told a group of black schoolkids at Virgil Grissom Junior High School in Queens, New York that they had a “black” hero in Captain Healy. The black kids initiated a letter-writing campaign to get the Coast Guard to name a ship after Michael Healy. Now, these kids may be flattered by the idea that a person of obvious Caucasian phenotype shares their “race,” but it is in fact a racial insult they are incapable of recognizing:
- The Healy family’s achievements do not show what “blacks” could do in the 19th century because they were NOT BLACK.
- The overwhelmingly European ancestry of the Healy family does not “prove” the biological equality of “blacks.” People will tacitly assume (as they always have) that “superior white blood” gave them their intelligence.
A prime example of the “liberal racism” that condemns the Healys as “black” on the basis of the “one drop” myth while pretending to be anti-racist and sympathetic, is “Racial Identity and the Case of Captain Michael Healy, USRCS,” by James M. O’Toole, director of the archives program at University of Massachusetts, Boston.. (Quarterly of the National Archives & Records Administration, Fall 1997, vol. 29, No. 3)
O’Toole begins with a confrontation between Captain Healy and two sailors he was disciplining. He notes that they called him a “God damned Irishman.” O’Toole is very upset that the sailors didn’t call Captain Healy a “nigger.” This seems to him the only natural thing to call Captain Healy. O’Toole throughout the article, projects his own racism and devotion to the “one drop” myth on 19th century Americans who obviously didn’t share his devotion to white racial “purity.”
O’Toole’s racist devotion to the “one drop” myth blinds him to racial reality in the 19th century. He assumes that the “one drop” myth was law and universally accepted by “whites.” It wasn’t. Any research into racial classification laws in the 19th century would have shown him that various degrees of “negro blood” were accepted into the “white race,” even in the Deep South. Also, the combination of a person’s looks and the reputation he had established were all taken into consideration in determining whether one was “white” or not. It is obvious that Captain Healy and his siblings succeeded in establishing themselves as second-generation Irish Americans. O’Toole cannot bear this and insists that the Healy siblings were really “African Americans.” He also calls their mother, Eliza, an “African American” even though her ancestry was at least half European.
O’Toole also claims that all “whites” believed in “mulatto inferiority” or the doctrine that mixed-race people are biologically inferior to BOTH or ALL “pure” parental groups. He is too ignorant to understand that this doctrine was created as a defense of slavery by pro-slavery intellectuals who wanted to counter the Northern anti-slavery argument that, if slavery is justified on the basis of “race,” then “white” slaves should be automatically free because the negro racial “taint” had been effectively bred out of the line. Lawrence Tenzer explains the origins of this doctrine very well in his book The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue. O’Toole would do well to sit at Tenzer’s feet and learn something. O’Toole follows the usual liberal excuse of claiming that “society” defined the Healy family as “black,” but expresses wonderment at the fact that “whites” who knew about Captain Healy’s mixed ancestry still treated him as “white.” O’Toole is amazed that establishing a “white” identity was so easy for the Healys:
The apparent ease with which they made the transition from black to white is striking. Hell, any white-identified multiracial could have told him that! First, they didn’t start out as “black.” All things would be made clear if he would stop listening to and promoting “black” propaganda. O’Toole is racist because he accepts the myth that the Healys’ real identity was “black” and that they were only “passing” for white and Irish American. Even though, like so many liberals, O’Toole acknowledges that “Group boundaries are more fluid than we often suppose,” he clearly accepts and endorses the “one drop” myth, passing it off as biological and social reality:
Where the Healys are remembered today, it is as African Americans; several of them are now celebrated as the “first black” achievers in their fields. They themselves, however, recoiled from such an identification. Wherever possible, they sought a white identity…
This may seem surprising or even disappointing to us…
Why should it be “surprising” or “disappointing” to anyone? The Healys embraced the identity that they believed best defined them. The Irish American identity certainly described the Healys well – far better than any false “black” identity. Does O’Toole really believe that the “white race” is “pure” or totally free from the “taint” of the “race” in whose equality he professes to believe? O’Toole also accepts the “liberal” nonsense that a “white” identity is merely an attempt to escape from “racism” and that the Healys would have cheerfully accepted a “black” identity if there had been no anti-black discrimination. Tell me, in a world free of anti-Semitism, would Jews voluntary call themselves “non-Aryans” or “kikes” or any other term invented to degrade them? Of course not; the question would be considered ridiculous. Why, therefore, do liberal and “black” elites insist that, in a prejudice-free world, people would cheerfully accept a racially degraded identity for themselves. Such idiocy constitutes a total rejection of logic.
Captain Healy married Mary Ann Roach, herself the daughter of Irish immigrants. O’Toole’s racism keeps him still amazed that a “white” identity was passed on to their son:
He repeatedly referred to white settlers [in Alaska] as “our people,” and was even able to pass this racial identity on to a subsequent generation. His teenage son Fred, who accompanied his father on a voyage in 1883, scratched his name into a rock on a remote island above the Arctic Circle, proudly telling his diary that he was the first “white boy” to do so.
Imagine that! O’Toole can’t understand how a boy with a white-identified Irish quadroon father and a “pure” Irish mother could presume to call himself “white” instead of some “black” nonsense. O’Toole appears to be really concerned about those polluting “black drops” contaminating his “whiteness.” He apparently doesn’t want to share his Irish American identity with people contaminated by the blood of the “race” he claims to champion.
O’Toole acknowledges that Captain Healy experienced prejudice for being Irish and Catholic, but he seems to be so disappointed that the “nigger” insult never pops up to put the uppity quadroon in his place. Indeed, O’Toole’s liberal racist contention that the Healy family’s Irish Catholic identity was mere social climbing to escape discrimination is even more ridiculous when you realize that, in the 19th century, both Irish and Catholics faced massive discrimination. If the Healys wanted to social climb, they could have become white Protestants.
The “racial kidnaping” of the Healy family is an important example of why the “liberal racist” assumption that a publicly-identified European heritage is somehow “too good” for those non-Hispanics “tainted” by “black blood” must be openly and defiantly challenged. We must end this racial “rape.” If the Healy family can be violated in death, it can happen to anyone.