Was Cassidy a racist? In a sense, the answer to this is no. He wasn’t a Klansman or a white supremacist. He would not have identified himself as a racist. Yet the behaviour of people like Cassidy (i.e. crazy people) is often problematic. They frequently act in ways that conflict with the principles they pretend to live by. For example, Cassidy claimed to be a socialist and a trade unionist, yet he took a job as an academic without having a degree. Nobody who believed in the principles of socialism, trade unionism or ordinary, basic fairness would do that. In a sense, he was also a racist, because he treated the Irish language and Irish culture not as a reality existing in its own right, but as a worthless dead language which he had a right to use as a plaything.
I recently mentioned Cassidy’s family tree. His brother has put a fairly comprehensive pedigree on Ancestry.com, which shows that there was a family tradition that the Cassidys had Cherokee blood. Cassidy’s grandmother Frances Stokes was the daughter of Frances Garrity, whose mother was Matilda May Byrnes, whose mother was Emma Pattison, whose mother was Margaret Abbott, who was rumoured to be part Cherokee, and her surname, Abbott, is found in records of the Cherokee at the time. In other words, Cassidy’s great-great-great-great-grandmother might have been partly of Cherokee descent.
Let’s just suppose that Cassidy, instead of getting a bee in his bonnet about Irish, decided to look at his Cherokee ancestry. Suppose he came up with a theory that millions of America’s urban poor had Cherokee descent and that they had remembered the Cherokee language without knowing it. And suppose that, instead of going off to the Cherokee nation and learning some of the language, he hit the dictionaries running and came up with ‘Cherokee’ phrases like guladale, the ‘obvious’ origin of English galoot. (Derived from gu-la = idiot + da-le = foolish! These are genuine Cherokee dictionary entries, but I have no idea whether adjectives come before nouns or after them in Cherokee or whether anyone would actually say ‘foolish idiot’ in that language – I mean, what other kind of idiot is there? And of course, this is exactly the kind of inept guesswork that Cassidy applied to the Irish language.)
And suppose that some Cherokee people thought that this theory would help to bring them support and money and give them kudos, so they backed him, in spite of the fact that they knew this was all rubbish, and allowed this pretentious, badly-educated white fool to stand on a platform with a highly inappropriate feathered head-dress and beaded vest sounding forth about the Cherokee roots of American popular culture. And meanwhile, imagine that other people who had a good knowledge of linguistics and Cherokee language were crying foul and pointing out that all of his claims were nonsense, and they were being accused of being time-servers and narrow-minded fools refusing to think out of the box by people who had never heard a word of Cherokee in their lives. Wouldn’t that be racism? Wouldn’t that be cultural appropriation? Wouldn’t that be treating a minority language as something with no value except as a source of unearned income for a liar and fantasist who was completely ignorant of that language?
Yes, it was all of those things. Because, although the Cherokee scenario never happened, this is exactly what happened in the case of Cassidy’s claims about Irish. People who know nothing at all about Irish are arguing with people who use the language every day of their lives, as if they have an equal right to decide what sounds like good Irish and what doesn’t. People who do that might think they are socialists, or radicals, or left-wing, or even Irish Republicans. But in the real world, Cassidy and his minions are simply ignorant bigots who refuse to accept the facts. They are as much a product of colonialism as men in bowler hats trying to force unwelcome marches through Catholic areas in Belfast.
I knew Danny Cassidy from 2005 when I unfortunately spent one semester at New College of California. He had hundreds of valid, well documented sexual harassment allegations against him from his female students. His close friend and enabler, Martin Hamilton, New College President blocked ALL investigations into Cassidy’s sexual harassment of female students.
In addition to being a mysoginist, sexist, hostile anti-social misanthrope – he was profoundly emotionally disturbed. I am 62, and Danny Cassidy was absolutely, the MOST violent,
“Crazy-Making” and hostile person I ever met in my life! He deliberately did everything in his power to force me out of the Irish Studies program and switch to Interdisciplinary Humanities major. I knew his motivation was because I have high order critical thinking skills and am an independent thinker who asked him cogent, well reasoned questions which were based on my standing up and defending myself from his horrific psychological harrassment and verbal abuse hew spewed at me.
The President of New College, Martin Hamilton was either borderline personality disorder or perhaps a sociopath – but definitely a world class con artist, embezzler and fraud. Martin Hamilton frequently had sex with his students. Ugh!…..plus an egregious violation of academic ethics. Martin Hamilton and Danny Cassidy were close friends – enabling each other to run a massive Federal/State financial scam for ages. New College was a bogus “diploma mill” which churned out half-baked degrees for the sole purpose of scamming student financial aid funding.
I knew I was in deep trouble when the Academic Advisor who was hired to do transcript evaluation and sign documents for graduation and degree awards told me I did NOT need several WASC requirement mandatory classes for a B.A. degree. She told me I did not need Intermediate Algebra, a hard science lab (1 unit) combined with a hard science lecture class (3 units) – no need for Public Speaking/Speech class (3) units. After I quit this campus in disgust after completing one semester, I contacted WASC and sent them hard copy documentation of the paperwork the transcript evaluator gave me for my graduation requirements.
In 2007-2008, New College was forcibly shut down by the Federal Dept. of Education and WASC (certifying agency which grants legal accreditation to grant degrees.) I fled New College of California after one semester because it was a “Hot Mess”. That organization was the most disorganized, chaotic organization I ever dealt with in my entire life! There were a few brilliant professors – Jerry Decker’s Global Studies class was scintillating!
How could a man like Danny Cassidy, who lacked even a B.A. degree a college degree be hired as a college professor? How could he operate as a “professor” without a Masters degree? How could he become a self-professed scholar of the Irish language, but without ANY knowledge how to speak it? Because he was a fabulist, charlatan, con-man who was utterly brilliant at turning himself into a CULT LEADER with a small, fanatic core group of groupies, sychophants, toadies and enablers! Martin Hamilton was also a CULT LEADER…..by the very end of closing down New College, it was discovered that Martin Hamilton’s very close personal friend and New College original FOUNDER – a Catholic priest was a pedophile who molested hundreds of children. I think the pedophile Catholic priest was convicted and sent to prison.
I wasted a huge sum of my federal/state financial college at New College, but am grateful I had the common sense after one semester to dis-enroll, disengage and transfer to a wonderful university in Oakland….Holy Names University.
Great blog! Excellent assessment of an anti-social, sociopathic FRAUD!
Wow! Amazing to find someone who despises this man even more than I do. It certainly comes as no surprise that Cassidy was a serial sleazebag in addition to all his other faults, foibles and crimes! I actually posted on John Leary, the pedophile priest, on this blog. Unfortunately, I don’t think he spent any time in jail. He died in 1993, just before Cassidy joined NCoC. As was the usual practice back then (especially in ecclesiastical cases), he was escorted to the city limits a number of times in a number of places and ordered to go and pollute somebody else’s town with his presence, but nothing major was ever done to stop his abuse. He just went somewhere else and started up again. Anyway, thanks very much for contributing and helping to reveal the truth about this weasel. Or should I say, these weasels … 🙂
I recently had a comment from Cassidy’s brother, Michael. It was commenting on the About page but it clearly belongs with this, as the About piece doesn’t mention the putative Cherokee origins of the Cassidy family:
The Cherokee/Native American DNA is basically noise. What makes the story ‘interesting’ is that my family had the story and several cousins I did not know until I started doing genealogy told me they also had the same family story. I do not think we, all the cousins, will ever prove it. What makes genealogy interesting is working through puzzles. BTW if you see any mistakes in the tree please tell me.
Michael Cassidy also sent me another comment with links to information about Irish speakers in the American census. I have no idea why. Perhaps he thinks that the presence of Irish speakers (a fact I never denied) has some bearing on the credibility of his brother’s work. If so, he is sadly misinformed. It’s a little like saying that the presence of Spanish speakers in an area supports a book that contains phrases like “Me speako hispanico”. That’s how bad nonsense like píosa theas and sách úr and mac ríúil are.