Tag Archives: cronyism

More on Professor Joseph Lee


Among the numerous cronies who have boosted the reputation of the charlatan Daniel Cassidy and his absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, one of the worst is Joe Lee, a respectable academic historian and scholar who is connected with New York University.

Lee provided a gushing and ridiculously positive review for the back of Cassidy’s book.

“In this courageous, crusading manifesto, Daniel Cassidy flings down the gauntlet to all those compilers of dictionaries who fled to the safe haven of ‘origin unknown’ when confronted with the challenge of American slang …The originality and importance of the argument makes this an exciting contribution to both American and Irish Studies. This is a landmark book, at once learned and lively, and quite enthralling as to how American English acquired so vibrant a popular vocabulary.”

I have read some of Lee’s work. In spite of his idiotic support for Cassidy, he deserves to be respected as an historian. Interestingly, he is critical of the traditional nationalist narratives. For example, he is critical of the claims that there was enough food in Ireland to feed the population during the Famine years. Why he chose to take the reputation which he has acquired through decades of hard work and study and flush it down the pan by supporting a joke like Cassidy remains a mystery. There is no doubt that he knew Daniel Cassidy and many of Cassidy’s friends. Does this explain it? Was it simple nepotism?

Or was it pity? Did he choose to support Cassidy because Cassidy had no health insurance after the collapse of New College and was relying on the sales of the book? If so, this was a shitty thing to do. The Irish people are not responsible for Daniel Cassidy and we are certainly not responsible for one of the richest nations on earth choosing to have a cruelly inadequate health care system. If he wanted to help Cassidy, Lee could have remortgaged his house to pay the insurance bills, not sold out our language and culture.

Or was it a more selfish motive? Was Lee trying to stay on the right side of a parcel of cronies, men like Peter Quinn and Pete Hamill, who would do anything to avoid admitting that Daniel Cassidy was a fraud?

Of course, I suppose there is a possibility that Lee genuinely believed the praise he lavished on the book. However, I find this impossible to believe, because Lee is not an idiot. How could anyone who speaks Irish believe that more than a handful of the ‘Irish’ phrases in this book are genuine? (Of course, he’s not a linguist, but even so!) And we have to remember that Lee is an academic. He must have seen dozens, if not hundreds of theses and dissertations. He knows full well that any thesis or dissertation with standards of scholarship as poor as Cassidy’s would not be acceptable in any university, anywhere.

There is also another bit of evidence, posted by someone using the username ap-aelfwine on this forum: http://gaeilge.livejournal.com/175737.html

The bit of Cassidy’s work I’ve seen struck me as dubious,* although I recently heard a faculty member–a clueful historian who has good Munster Irish–at the programme I just graduated from say he thought C. was pointing in some directions that deserved exploration. It was in the midst of a reception–I didn’t get a chance to ask him more about it, unfortunately.

The clueful historian is obviously Lee. It doesn’t surprise me that he was still making broadly positive comments about Cassidy in 2010, because he had been stupid enough to put his endorsement on the book a couple of years earlier. But ‘pointing in some directions that deserve exploration’ (a view which is also foolish, in my opinion, and there’s plenty of evidence of that in this blog) is a far cry from ‘landmark book’, ‘courageous and crusading manifesto’, or ‘learned and lively’, never mind ‘an exciting contribution to both American and Irish Studies’. Yet Lee’s review still stands on the back of every copy of this ludicrous turd of a book. No doubt many people have been conned into believing that Cassidy’s work is a genuine piece of scholarship because of Lee’s endorsement and his continued refusal to set the record straight.

Or could it just be that Lee is a victim of that old enemy of rationality, the arrogance and hubris that so frequently goes with titles like Professor and Senator, the feeling that who you are makes you above the ordinary decencies that lesser folk have to live with?

Who knows? Who cares? Integrity is a precious commodity. Life is far too short to waste on people who are prepared to squander their reputation on a putz like Cassidy, whatever bizarre motive they had for doing so.

A Hatepost

I have recently had some visitors from a forum on language where someone has posted a flattering link to this blog. You can find it here: http://n3ta.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9542&st=900

The commenter is entirely accurate in his or her comments about Cassidy and his fraudulent academic career and his even more fraudulent ideas about Irish. I am delighted when people notice this blog and publicise my efforts. However, I was slightly taken aback at the description of Cassidyslangscam as a hateblog.

After all, I think I am quite rational and dispassionate in my debunking. I ask people to search for evidence and to go to the primary sources themselves. And I am motivated by love of the Irish language, love of truth, love of learning …

However, when I started thinking about it (and also while thinking about the comments on the way writers lie to themselves on Emma’s blog Jot It Down), I realised that I may be rational and public-spirited and devoted to discovering and spreading the truth, but I am also motivated by a strong hatred. My blog IS a hateblog. I hate everything that Cassidy stood for: childish ignorance masquerading as a fresh way of thinking; using Irish nationalism and socialism and other radical causes as smokescreens to protect his nonsense from criticism; the rampant hypocrisy of blethering about equality while enjoying the status and privileges of being a professor – without even a bachelor’s degree; the way that stupid and gullible people have been mobilised in defence of this nonsense by public figures and journalists who should be telling them the truth.

So, hateblog it is! I’ll wear the label with pride. There are plenty of things in this world which deserve to be hated. Cassidy’s book, his theories and his crony friends should be despised by any sensible, decent person.

P.S. You can find Emma’s blog here. Check it out!https://wordsaretheweapon.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/how-to-combat-writing-lies/comment-page-1/#comment-99

A Night Out For The Cronies

It has been several months now since my last contribution, so I thought it was high time I gave a brief update. Cassidy’s ridiculous book is still being sold on Amazon. Most of the time, the sales are sluggish, but occasionally some poor schmuck, impressed by the rave reviews from Cassidy’s crony friends, buys a few copies for his relatives and the book’s rating goes up again.

I found this picture on line. Here we see several of the worst of Cassidy’s cronies at a night out in New York in April. There is Peter Quinn, Joe Lee and Terry Golway, all of whom were quite happy to praise and support this crap, in spite of the fact that it is obvious nonsense. As far as I am aware, none of them has ever recanted, retracted, repudiated Cassidy or apologised for helping to sell this garbage to unsuspecting people (even after it was revealed that Cassidy was an academic fraud with no degrees). Well, what the hell! It’s their reputations which are being dragged through the mud and the longer they refuse to do the right thing, the shabbier and more ridiculous they look.

Cassidy and Cronyism

I have already discussed Cassidy’s claim that crony and by extension cronyism come from the Irish language. Cassidy was lying about this, because the word he claimed meant a comrade or companion, comhrogha (plural comhroghna or comhroghanna) does not exist. The word is used as an obscure term for an alternative or a rival, but never in the sense of friend.

However, in a sense, Cassidy was right to associate cronyism with Irish culture. According to Wikipedia, cronyism is ‘partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy.’

There is no doubt that cronyism is part of our national sickness. You only have to look at the way that corrupt bankers and politicians led our country to the brink of disaster to see that we are far too prone to this kind of old boys’ network.

Perhaps, depressingly, this is the greatest legacy of the Irish to American culture, that we have helped them to create a society where loyalty to your friends is often considered far more important than loyalty to your principles or loyalty to the public good.  

In the categories of this blog, I refer to the Cassidy affair as The Cassidy Scandal. Perhaps this is a little melodramatic but to me, it is a scandal. It is a scandal that anyone could write and publish such an amateurish, ignorant, worthless collection of nonsense and have it recommended by some of the most important Irish-American writers, intellectuals and academics, as well as a scattering of people in Ireland who should have had far more sense. It is quite clear from the internet that many of these people were friends of Cassidy’s. The whole Cassidy Scandal reeks of cronyism.

There is nothing  radical or left-wing about cronyism. Cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy

To those people who are victims of this scam and who bought this book in good faith thinking it to be a serious work of scholarship, especially those who still thought that after reading it, I can only say that you are lucky to have been ripped off over something relatively trivial. You have spent a few dollars on something which in terms of its intellectual content isn’t worth a plug nickel. It could be a lot worse.

You could be feeding poison to your children in a South American jungle because the authorities are closing in on your Messiah. You could be facing penury because you invested your life-savings in a mine somewhere that doesn’t exist. You could be flying a plane full of innocent people into a building because you believe that this is the way to Paradise.  

So take this as a lesson. Learn to be more critical and less trusting. Because unfortunately there are lots of horrible people like Cassidy out there who think lying to you is fun.


Another oft-quoted claim of Cassidy’s, which has absolutely no basis in fact, is the notion that crony can be traced back to an Irish phrase comh-roghna. Cassidy says that this word means “fellow chosen-ones, mutual-sweethearts, fellow favourites, close friends, mutual pals”.

While comh– exists and rogha/roghanna exists there is no evidence in the Irish language of either roghanna or comhroghanna being used to mean friends or pals. Comhrogha and comhroghanna are not even in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, though the word comhrogha has been used with the senses of rival, alternative or choice. Rogha means a choice. There are plenty of words and phrases for the concept of friends or mates – cairde, compánaigh, comrádaithe. Comhroghanna and roghanna are not among them. They do not occur in the dictionaries with these meanings and they are not used in speech in this sense.

While the other words for companion or comrade, comrádaí, compánach and cara occur many times in Corpas na Gaeilge (a database of Irish), comhrogha only occurs five times and always in the sense of choice or alternative, never to refer to friends. In any case, comhroghanna (koh-ray-anna) doesn’t sound much like cronies to me!