MovieChat Forums > The Devil's Own (1997) Discussion > Why do Americans refer to themselves as ...

Why do Americans refer to themselves as Irish?


Please explain? If you're born in America you are American unless you were born in Ireland & emigrated then you could call yourselves Irish. In the UK if you have American parents but were born in Wales for example you are Welsh with American parents. In America you also refer to Italian-Americans, in the UK the Italian families who have children in the UK are British children.
By the way, I'm Welsh, and I've never heard the term Welsh-American in the USA, are you not proud of your Welsh roots? Sames goes for Scotland, not heard the term Scottish-American either!
Please explain? Why are you so proud of being called Irish-American & Itaian-American but you have nothing to do with Wales & Scotland???


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I say it just to piss off guys like you and so you can have ridiculous debates with yourself.

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It has to do with our history. Even though the first (European) settlers were mostly English, throughout its history America has received waves of immigration from different places. The first major group was the involuntary immigration of slaves from Africa, followed by the Irish, Germans, Chinese, Italians, other Asians, and now Hispanics (there were smaller numbers of many other groups). Each of these waves was caused by major economic or political upheavals in their native lands (the potato famine in Ireland, the mid-19th century wars in what was to become Germany, poor economic conditions in Italy, etc.).

As each new group arrived, it got put on the bottom rung of the ladder, suffered discrimination (even from the groups that arrived earlier), and fought for a place in American society. As a result, each group banded together and maintained an identity even though they were part of a greater America. Intermarriage between groups was largely frowned upon though it certainly happened the longer each group was in America.

That's changing today, but most Americans still have some sense of where their ancestors came from, and often have family traditions deriving from the "old country". However, I don't think most Americans today pay much attention to where a person's ancestors came from.

BTW, I have heard people identifying themselves as Scottish-Americans, but not Welsh-Americans. It's simply that there wasn't a large enough number of each of these groups to be noticed.

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the potato famine in Ireland, the mid-19th century wars in what was to become Germany, poor economic conditions in Italy, etc
Interesting. Thanks for the enlightenment, Dwarol.

I choose to believe what I was programmed to believe

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its so weird how the people who ask me my "home country" are always from a different country. I'm canadian but its not much different a situation here than in america.

Most of the time, the only ones who really pay attention to race with questions like "what makes you think ur irish?" are people from said country. People might ask just to figure out a new last name for the hell of it, but questions like the one ur asking usually come from people of a different country, who are mad that others dare claim ancestry to their homeland lol.

Its all so dumb if u ask me. Sure knowing ur roots is great, but the more desperate people are in holding on to culture, the less likely we are to getting world peace.

Hopefully nationalists will die out as people become more and more connected with the internet and stuff. It really is those 40+ years and older that need to die off in order for racism to truly have a chance at leaving. So many of them are so uninformed and lost in an age in information lol.

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I don't refer to myself as Irish, but I do tell people I'm half Irish because my father was born there and lived there for 25 years of his life. I also am in the process of getting an Irish passport because I have a right to one. But people are allowed to be proud of where they came from. I do think it's a little crazy if people are proud and it goes so far back they don't even know the last relative who came from there or have never been there themselves.

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Like the above poster I was born in America but my father was born in Italy (and only lived there as a child), I will tell people I'm half-Italian or an Italian-American (also half Franco-American... aka French-Canadian-American, muhaha) often when they hear my last name the subject comes up or people are often curious to what heritage it is, as it's never pronounced correctly if they read it or something (especially when I was in school as a child, I remember every 1st day of a new class the teacher doing role call and insulting me and my last name, then saying something to the tune of "must be Italian?"....

I think it's also because we don't want to say "I'm an American", haha. "Proud to be an American" makes me think of the Civil War and the South for some reason... sorry, just how I think.

The true "100% American's" are ones that have generations of their family tree based here since the 1700's, at least that's how many look at it, and even then they are British, French, and a large mix of whatever (big ole' melting pot here). Whether I'm Italian-American, thegroveful is Irish-American, my buddy Mike is African-American, and my other friend Jason is Korean-American (they like to enforce that they are from South Korea, which a majority are, being that North Korea is as it is), we are all Americans, all people, all the same, and don't view each other any differently because of our differences. But while we don't pay much attention to race for the most part, we are all still proud of our own heritage.

The fact that as a child growing up if I went to a friends house, we'd have "Kimchi and rice" for dinner at my Korean friends (and always shoes off at the door), while at my friend Mike's his mom was new to America (I forget which state of Africa they were from), but she had some crazy good soups and meats on kabobs. At my place, a lot of spaghetti and pasta. Racist? Nope. Just life growing up...

As American's it was understanding these cultural differences, as well as identifying with our own heritage and unique things as a result, but ultimately the first reply nailed it. I'm just explaining it in my opinion growing up in a very diverse culture (Seattle), but of course I guess like thegroveful, all of our parents (friends Mike and Jason parents were both born in respective countries), and became Americans in their 20's.

It's to make us feel special. I am Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion, and the true Italian's in Italy can suck it if they dislike the fact those of us in America that are proud to have strong Italian heritage should re-think exactly why (and this goes for all countries, Italian, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, African, German, French

Notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have f’ed with? That’s me.

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It's people looking for an identity or being part of a specific group. No one's after claiming that they're from a country that they're not.

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It's an old thread but anyway; I refer to myself as being of Scots-Irish descent. My family crossed the pond in the early 1700's; probably about 1720. Documentation supports them being part of the Ulster immigration. I agree with the OP on one thing, it does bug me a bit when people born here refer to themselves as Irish, French, etc. I prefer American of (fill in the blank) descent.

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In the movie, Turning Green, two kids born in the US to Irish parents, move in with family in Ireland after their parents die.

The younger kid (10-12 yr old) asks the older one (16-17 yr old), if they're Irish.

He answers something like, "In the States, yeah, 100%. But in Ireland, we're American".

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I don't know why. We just do it. I grew up in a NYC neighborhood where all the kids were descendants of European immigrants. We called ourselves Irish, or Polish or Italian even though we knew we were Americans. It was part of our heritage.
I don't see any reason to make a big deal out of it.

It's none of my business what Americans whose ancestors were from Wales call themselves.




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