Mr. Nathan O. Hatch, Provost University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556
Dear Mr. Hatch:
I regret to inform you that your trademark image of a fist-clenched “fighting” Irishman has ceased to be relevant. The image, reminiscent of famous Irish boxer John Sullivan, has been inscribed indelibly on baseball hats, T-shirts, and most of the human anatomy. Unfortunately, the reality of the scrapping, proletarian Irishman has been obliterated through white flight and the selective American class ladder. Even the Irish at home have mellowed. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is arguably more comfortable with Armani suits than with Armalite Rifles. Fortunately or not, the Irish just aren’t fighting these days.
As an Irish American, the image does not offend me. I am of a minority opinion that as an ethnic group we are entirely overrated. For every Seamus Heaney or Frank McCourt, there are innumerable hordes of garrulous boors polluting barroom serenity from Indiana to Katmandu.
I understand that “the fighting Irish” is a rugged, hearty, and ironically American name for a football team. But given that the Irish now have the second-fastest growing economy in Europe, perhaps you might consider these slightly more realistic alternatives: the Microchip Irish©; the Stock-Option Irish©; the Badass Western Europeans©.
Best of luck!
Sincerely, Kenneth H. Cleaver
Dear Mr. Cleaver,
I enjoyed your thoughts about the fighting Irishman image at Notre Dame, as well as your suggestions for alternative monikers. I agree with you that the Irish have been well assimilated into American society, and currently are a powerful force, particularly economic, within Western Europe.
There is no plan at this time for Notre Dame to change the image, but you certainly provided food for thought!
Sincerely, Nathan O. Hatch, Provost
From the August 23-29, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.