Is This A Joke? WaPo Op-Ed Says Trump Saying 'Paddy Wagon' Is Offensive to Irish Americans

Posted: Aug 02, 2017 3:10 PM

I pray this is a joke. If it is satire, The Onion should ask for permission to reprint immediately. President Trump delivered an address to law enforcement last Friday, which triggered some progressive snowflakes because he joked about our police roughing up MS-13 gang members. It was a joke. If you can’t catch on when Trump is joking and when he’s not, I don’t know what to tell you. They’re often rather self-evident that he’s not actually hoping police are overly physical with detained suspects, but let’s move on to this part of this Washington Post op-ed about the matter.

The president used the phrase “paddy wagon.” And for James Mulvaney, adjunct professor at John Jay College of criminal justice, this was an offense to all Irish Americans. Dude, you need to get a grip:

The use of the derogatory phrase “paddy wagon” wasn’t the worst thing President Trump said last week. But it shouldn’t get lost amid the litany of objectionable utterances.

In a speech on Long Island Friday, Trump bellowed a series of nonspecific pronouncements regarding his administration’s strategy to combat the deadly street gang MS-13. He provoked the ire of police chiefs across the country with his statements condoning the roughing up of arrestees. “When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice,” Trump riffed. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?”


Paddy, of course, borrows from the pet form of the common Irish name Patrick and has long been deployed as a slur. The origin of “paddy wagon,” though, is unclear.

According to one popular account, the phrase dates to the mid-19th-century when U.S. cities — notably New York and Boston — were flooded with Irish immigrants escaping the catastrophic food shortage at home. The brand-new New York City Police Department (first called the Municipals, later the Metropolitans) was dispatched to round up the Irish on suspicion of drunkenness or to dragoon them into the Union Army.


My great grandfather, a cop who first walked a beat in Brooklyn and later for the NYPD, told me of early job searches at the turn of the last century and the widespread presence of signs saying, “Irish and dogs need not apply.” His son, my grandfather, served as editor of the Cornell Law Review in 1953 and was rejected by every white-shoe law firm in Gotham, apparently because of his last name. As a foreign correspondent in Belfast in the 1980s, I was repeatedly tossed into police vans — presumed guilty for having the temerity to live in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. Slaps of nightsticks to the shins and kicks to the ribs were accompanied by a variety of vile phrases ending with the word “paddy.”

Two years ago, I complained to the New York Times about the appearance of “paddy wagon” in a crossword. Puzzle editor Will Shortz dismissed my objections, writing: “The Irish are not a group that’s discriminated against in the U.S.”

Okay—I will add to the crossword puzzle editor; no one cares. Literally no one was offended. This is just part of the insane culture of political correctness that’s making people exceptionally soft and fragile over things that are not slights at all. Trump said “paddy wagon” and now I’m offended. Yeah, do you want your binky too? Also, you complained to a crossword puzzle editor? Oh my God. 

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