Skip to comments.Content aside, the title makes the column
Posted on 10/13/2006 8:29:12 PM PDT by Redbob
"Goodbye, boys, I die a true American." So went the apocryphal last words of Bill "The Butcher" Poole as he died on March 8, 1855. He'd been fatally shot in the heart, but he'd hung on for another 11 days, presumably to think of something totally metal to say.
Born in New Jersey in 1821, William Poole had by the 1850s become known in Manhattan as a butcher, a boxer, a gang leader and a political enforcer for the local nativist political party - the Know-Nothings - to which he was attracted because of his virulent hatred of Irish-Catholic immigrants. He rose to prominence through an alliance with Capt. Isaiah Rynders, a former U.S. Marshal, riverboat gambler and knife fighter who ran his political organization, the Americus Club, from a riverside bar. After announcing that he and his Americus men planned to seize the ballot boxes in an upcoming election, Poole's rush on the polls was stymied only by a 50-man force financed by Tammany Hall. Subsequently, he became engaged in an escalating and progressively bloodier rivalry with Tammany's chief agent, prizefighter (and future congressman) John Morrissey. It came to a head when a fracas erupted between Poole and some of Morrissey's men, one of whom shot an unarmed Bill Poole in the leg and, after the Butcher had collapsed to his knees, unloaded the pistol into his chest. In a hero's funeral, Poole was carried at the head of a procession of 5,000 men down a crowd-lined Broadway. His widely publicized last words inspired New York's theater community to write new plays quickly and to revise their current productions to include wildly popular conclusions in which the hero, draped in an American flag, would cry, "Goodbye, boys, I die a true American!"
So why would I consciously adopt this sort of sentiment as my own? I'm not particularly sympathetic to Poole's nativism; I'm half-Catholic, of which I'm sure he'd disapprove, and the other half of me is Jewish, which he'd like less. His ideas about political organization were groundbreaking, but only in their inventive and violent approach to subverting democracy. With all due respect to Barry Goldwater, I'm not going to tell you that proto-fascist thuggery in the defense of liberty is no vice. It's a vice. And it's a double-vice if you're beating up the Irish to keep them from voting. Let's not kid ourselves: Poole was a racist, anti-democratic criminal.
Thing is, though, here at Yale, we have a political climate maybe an inch or two to the left of center - not sure if you've heard. Nick Shalek's election as alderman last year was fascinating, not because I care about aldermanic politics (I don't), but because it provided a breakdown of Yale's political sentiment. Rebecca Livengood, who represented the far left of Yale's political spectrum, took 46 percent of the vote; Shalek, who had the votes of everyone to the right of that, from center-left to far right, took only 54 percent.
My political views hover on the right-most end of Yale's political discourse, and I'm not even that conservative. (F'reals, guys.) With this column, I want to sensibly articulate a center-right outlook on Yale's and the nation's issues. I plan on addressing a wide assortment of issues that affect us as Yalies and as Americans, from whatever I complained to my roommates about at dinner on Wednesday to whatever I complained to my roommates about at lunch on Thursday. (Just kidding, I have a plan.) (Just kidding, no plan.) And if I'm a little strident in my humor, it's not because I don't like the folks with whom I disagree - I just want people to be able to read columns that don't make them feel like the two halves of their brain are fighting to the death. (My money's on Right Half.)
And I imagine that along the way, some people'll tag me as a racist, a xenophobe, a fascist, a Neanderthal or, I dunno, a pirate, which is why I went with my column's title. Because if I'm going to be pinned down as a thug, I might as well enjoy it. This way, regardless of whether I win the argument, I know I'll at least have a good closing line before I go down wrapped up in the American flag.
Sam Heller is a junior in Pierson College. This is his first regular column.
It'll be interesting to see if this boy is allowed to write a second column.
I just want him to explain how someone is half Catholic or half Jewish.
He might have been using a sort of shorthand to suggest that one of his parents is Catholic, and the other Jewish.
But that's just a guess on my part.
"I think Poole must have been the model for the "Cutter" character in Gangs of New York."
Glad he didn't mention the movie, the movie was crap, in the year of the opening scene where all those men are killed in that bloody hell of a gang battle, New York only had ten homicides for the entire year, there were no Chinese in New York yet except for a possible handful of sailors as ships crew in the harbor, and the rest of it was mostly fantasy as well. (anti American fantasy and imagery to my mind), the military never shelled anyone for instance.
If he had converted to Christianly rather then Catholicism, there would be no question about half and half.
(I know I will get flamed for this response and I will ignore them as I have in the past. I am a Bible believing, born again Christian who firmly believes that there is a strong fundamental difference between Catholicism and genuine Christianity.)
Love the smell of dissenting emails in the morning!
Don't count on it.. He'll get expelled.
Don't make the mistake of viewing it as a documentary of living conditions in the Five Points. Besides the sewer-clogging gore, the naval bombardment and the entire milieu wasn't quite as infernal as Scorcese suggests. And the Dead Rabbits didn't even exist as a formal "gang."
We all know where you are coming from and I hope no one takes the trouble to flame you.
Thanks, I dont often get encouraging backup when I attempt to proclaim the truth.
"The perception of Five Points as an unrelievedly dangerous place is exaggerated, Anbinder says. "I looked at the statistics, and other than public drunkenness and prostitution, there was no more crime in Five Points than in any other part of the city."
"The book The Gangs of New York says there was one tenement where there was a murder a day. At the period of time he was writing about, there was barely a murder a month in all of New York City," Anbinder says."
"Even here meat was often on the table three times a day, animal remains and historical accounts show.
In the Scorsese movie you have these scenes in a basement where there are skulls in the corners and people are draped in rags," Yamin says. "We didn't see anything to suggest that people were living like that. There were certainly no skulls rolling around in people's rooms." And few pewter cups, for that matter.
Watching the movie, Yamin says, "the thing I really noticed was those pewter mugs everyone was drinking out of. Well, they stopped drinking out of those in the 18th century."
" Anbinder also faults the movie for its emphasis on Catholic-Protestant conflict. Most fighting was among gangs of Irish-Catholic Five Pointers. And it was rarely as bloody or deadly as in the movie. "Rioters did not go about with swords and broadaxes. Every once in a while one person would have one, but never whole mobs armed like that."
"But again, in terms of the specifics, you don't want to rely on the movie. There were no gunships in the harbor firing artillery upon the city. And again, the amount of bloodshed was less than shown in the movie."
These are two good links:
Actually, I'd call that "patronizing," not "encouraging backup." Flaming someone like you isn't worth the effort.
Sorry we are so far off topic, you need to bring us back to the subject.
Ignore a wonderful trait, something worth exploring.
One parent is a nonpracticing Catholic and the other a nonpracticing Jew, and he is totally confused?
"One parent is a nonpracticing Catholic and the other a nonpracticing Jew, and he is totally confused?"
I guess he didn't get a great start on life in that sense so you are right, no wonder the boy is confused.
So your point brings us back to the subject of the thread, as a young conservative this guy is heading in a direction of growth. I hope he keeps writing and challenging his peers.
Well, he seems to have a sense of humor. He will need a sense of the absurd to get through Yale.
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