Tag Archives: radicalism

A Farewell To Tom Hayden

The well-known civil rights activist, Tom Hayden, died recently after a long illness in Santa Monica, California. He was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, and became known as a radical anti-war and civil rights activist in the 1960s. He married actress Jane Fonda, and served a combined 18 years in the California State Assembly and State Senate. Hayden also wrote for major publications.

There is no doubt that Hayden was a genuine activist and radical. Yet even Hayden, a clever and principled man, bought into Cassidy’s bullshit for a time. In his book, Irish On The Inside: In Search Of The Soul Of Irish America (2003), Hayden quotes one of Cassidy’s stupidest claims:

The name of one of the most notorious gangs, the Plug Uglies, was an Americanized reference to Ball Oglaigh, or “Irish Volunteers”, according to Daniel Cassidy of the New University’s [sic] Irish Studies Program.

I have already pointed out the word óglach (plural óglaigh) was an ancient word meaning ‘young warrior’ which was effectively recycled as the term for a volunteer when the Irish Volunteers were founded in 1913. It was never used of the Fenian movement in the 19th century and the phrase baill óglaigh would be more likely to mean ‘the members (limbs or sexual organs) of a young warrior’ than ‘a member of the Fenian Brotherhood.’ This is typical of the dim-witted, badly-researched, psychotically over-confident claims made by Cassidy in his book.

Hayden was also involved in Cassidy’s pet project, the Arcs of Piss Festival … sorry, Gates of Gold Festival (which developed into The Irish-American Crossroads Festival). In 2002, he appeared at that festival along with all the usual suspects: William Kennedy, Peter Quinn, Maureen Dezell, and Michael Patrick Mac Donald.

In 2004 he was back at the Festival for a discussion about Irish Americans in the Labor Movement, chaired by our very own criminal fraudster and fake radical, Daniel Cassidy.

And in 2006, he was back again for a discussion on the Hunger Strikes of 1981, again chaired by Danny the Dimwit.

We know that he used to give classes at the Law School at New College but there is no information about how often or when he did this.

Were Cassidy and Hayden friends? I don’t know. He wasn’t involved in any of the ballyhoo surrounding Cassidy’s book and in spite of his links to Cassidy and to the Irish-American Crossroads Festival I am quite sure that he would have had enough decency and integrity to despise Cassidy, if he had known what we know, that Cassidy fraudulently claimed to have qualifications he didn’t have to get a job as a professor. After all, that alone is a major betrayal of any labor or socialist principles. And I would like to think that, were he still alive and in health, Hayden would have cut himself off from The San Francisco Irish-American Crossroads Festival on principle because it continues to offer the public a fake and dishonest biography of Cassidy on its website, complete with degrees we know he didn’t have, an academic status he wasn’t entitled to and some grossly inflated claims about his achievements.

In short, the evidence suggests that Tom Hayden was a genuine radical, unlike Daniel Cassidy, and should be celebrated and remembered as such.

However, it also shows how Cassidy’s theories seeped into the Irish-American community like raw sewage, corrupting and tainting even decent and intelligent people with their poison.

Heckler

To the long-dead flax workers of Scotland.

You were known as hecklers, a Scots and dialect English version of hackler. You worked long, exhausting hours, dragging bundles of flax or hemp through heckling combs to separate the fibres so that they could be spun into thread and then into cloth.

You were one of the most radical and vociferous elements in the labour movement of Britain. You were famed for your literacy, your burning desire for self-improvement, your advocacy for the rights of the poor. It is said that while you worked in cities like Dundee, one of your number used to read out the stories of the day from a newspaper and shouts and comments would come from all corners of the room.

Your trade is long gone now but the memory of your radicalism lives on in the word heckler, a name now used to denote someone who shouts out and interrupts a speaker. 

Unfortunately, there are people now who want to make your contribution to the history of the English language as dead as your trade. They are people who have read a foolish book and believed all of it (I can imagine you turning in your graves – Think on that, folks that accept the printed word as true without questioning or thinking or investigating! For shame!)

That book is Daniel Cassidy’s How The Irish Invented Slang. Cassidy, who claimed to be ‘a labor activist’, cared nothing for the facts and chose to ignore your contribution to the history of the labour movement. He invented a foolish phrase in Irish (éamh call) which he claimed meant ‘to shout out complaints’ and he tried to pass this off as the origin of the word heckler. No matter that no Irish speaker has ever used éamh call. No matter that it makes little sense. No matter that Irish has many real ways of saying heckle or interrupt, like trasnáil a dhéanamh, trasnú, trioscadh, cur isteach ar chainteoir, briseadh isteach ar chainteoir. No matter that your own proud name is well-established as the origin of the word heckler.

A parcel of rogues and fools wants to believe in lies and nonsense rather than accept the facts. Which is why I am here, on a piece of technology you could not have imagined back in your day, shouting out my objections on your behalf – like a true heckler.