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Gangs of New York

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Sceala Clann T.D.
Location: Illinois, USA

Irish Films Discussion:     Gangs of New York

I just saw the movie Gangs of New York last night (Easter Sunday). It first came out in 2002, so many of you have probablly already seen it, but as this is the first time for me I wanted to share it. This movie made a real impression on me, I've spent most of the morning going through old newspaper reports and stories about that era.

Gangs of New York is a movie based on immigrants (especially the Irish) living in the Five Points slum in New York after the Civil War. It really goes in depth showing how the immigrants had to live in filthy conditions, poor or no jobs, disease and crime. The hatred that was spewed at the immigrants was unbelievable, we've all read about how they were treated, but to see it enacted like that really drives the point home. They were treated as less than human, completely disposable.

We don't realize how lucky we are. Darlene said in another post how people had made nasty comments to her about her Irish heritage, thankfully I've never seen that. I can't begin to imagine how it would feel to be spit in the face and called names, to be made to hang your head in shame or that you had to deny who you were, to be told that I couldn't be something or couldn't have something, or do something just because my family was Irish. To have to raise my children in squallor and wish for better for them, but knowing that I couldn't give it to them. The reason I can't begin to imagine this is because I don't have to, my kin fought and sacrificed for me. They had to live through all of this and so much more, slowly fighting to change things so that some day their families wouldn't have to. If anybody ever has any questions of the strength and the honor of the Irish just look at any old photos or read any old stories, see what they lived through, see all the things that were wrong that they fought to make right.

This movie also brought up the thought about how things never really change. Back then the people who called themselves "Native" Americans (people who were born in America but who in reality were only a couple of generations away from being immigrants themselves) were complaining about how the Immigrants were taking over the country, taking all the jobs, etc, etc.... The same things we're hearing about the immigration issue today. Seems that for all our "advances" as a culture and a society, as human beings we haven't learned anything.

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