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What Gangs of New York Misses
City Journal ^ | January 14, 2003 | William J. Stern

Posted on 01/14/2003 3:57:12 PM PST by aculeus

Director Martin Scorcese’s violent tale of gang warfare in nineteenth-century New York ignores the dramatic transformation of the city’s Irish underclass into mainstream citizens. | 14 January 2003

In 1842, accompanied by two policemen to ensure his safety, Charles Dickens visited Gotham’s Five Points slum, at the corner of what today are Worth, Baxter, and Park Streets behind Manhattan’s Supreme Court building, and found it “loathsome, drooping, and decayed” (see “A Traveller’s New York, 1842,” Autumn 1994). The area boasted some 17 brothels and countless saloons; for dark-side amusement and thrills, Five Points was the place. Davy Crockett remarked after a trip through the neighborhood that he would rather venture into Indian Country than ever return there. Irish-born John Hughes, the first Catholic Archbishop of New York, described Five Points’ predominantly Irish residents as “the poorest and most wretched population that can be found in the world—the scattered debris of the Irish nation.” In addition to the Irish, residents included blacks, Chinese, French, Germans, Poles, and Spaniards. It is this troubled neighborhood and its people, the beginning of the New York melting pot, that director Martin Scorcese seeks to bring back to life in his major new movie Gangs of New York, a chronicle of gang warfare between Irish immigrants and anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant natives, or “nativists.”

... The big problem with Gangs of New York, however, is not DiCaprio’s weak performance. It’s that Scorcese, by concentrating solely on nineteenth-century gangbanging—and turning it into grand guignol theater of violence—missed a wonderful opportunity to show what was actually taking place in mid-nineteenth century New York. The hordes of immigrant Irish had by then become the nation’s first underclass, of which gangs like that headed by Neeson were symptoms—as were the 1863 draft riots depicted in the movie, a disgraceful, Irish-led, anti-black pogrom, sparked by opposition to the draft instituted during the Civil War. Over a century later, the association of an urban underclass with urban riots became even more familiar.

While Scorcese has Butcher Cutting express some of the period’s nativist sentiment, the movie makes no effort to show who the nativists really were. They weren’t simply an early version of the twentieth century’s Ku Klux Klan. Unlike the Klan, whose ranks consisted overwhelmingly of uneducated, low-income whites (like Cutting), the nativists included among their number some of America’s elite leaders and thinkers. Indeed, the nativists’ anti-Catholicism had a long history among American elites. Some of the country’s founders believed that Anglo-Saxon culture was basically identical with Western Civilization. Catholicism, in their view, was incompatible with democracy and religious freedom. As a delegate drafting the New York State Constitution, for example, John Jay successfully pushed for an amendment forbidding practitioners of religions with leaders located beyond American shores—like, say, the pope in Rome—from becoming U.S. citizens (the federal government eventually took over the responsibility of granting citizenship, rendering such state restrictions void). Fear that the pope was telling American Catholics what to do and think characterized the opinions of elite figures like John Quincy Adams, Samuel Morse, and P. T. Barnum, and continued right up to the presidential election of John Kennedy, who during his campaign had to promise a group of Protestant ministers that he would be faithful to the U.S. Constitution.

On the lowbrow side, some nativist Protestants believed that the Catholic Church was the “Whore of Babylon,” an instrument of Satan, and that the pope was an anti-Christ. Protestant minister John S. Orr, known as “Angel Gabriel” to his followers, spoke to crowds of thousands in front of City Hall, advocating the casting of the Irish and the Catholic Church out of the city and into the Atlantic.

In addition to anti-Catholicism, many nativists also believed in Aryan supremacy—and the Irish weren’t Aryans. Famed cartoonist Thomas Nast regularly depicted the Irish as subhuman apes. In 1851, Harper’s Magazine described the Irish physiognomy in the same unflattering terms. A few years later, the brothers Orson and Lorenzo Fowler published a New Illustrated Self Instructor in Phrenology and Physiology that reinforced ideas about Irish genetic inferiority. This pseudoscientific view of the Irish was influential right through the end of the nineteenth century.

Many Americans fell prey to this destructive, racist form of thinking because of what they were seeing of the Irish underclass in mid-nineteenth century New York. Prostitution was rampant. The Irish immigration of the 1840s was some 60 percent female, most of them single, and many of these newcomers soon found themselves on the street. Ronald H. Baylor and Timothy J. Meagher report in their book, The New York Irish, that the prostitute population jumped from 11,000 in 1839 to 50,000 ten years later, and these “nymphs of the pave,” as people called them, were mostly young Irish girls. But it wasn’t just prostitution: venereal disease, alcoholism, opium addiction, child abandonment, infanticide—the New York Irish suffered crippling levels of social pathology.

The criminals of the city were almost all Irishmen—and they were far from the strapping, well-fed, hard-partying swells that Scorcese depicts as his gang members. The police cart that hauled away prisoners became the “paddy wagon” because it invariably transported Irish hoodlums. Irish gangs consisted mainly of tattered, hungry, dirty, abandoned Irish boys—many of them the offspring of nymphs of the pave like that played in the film by Cameron Diaz. Their lives were short, as Scorcese shows—and also, as he does not show, nasty and brutish. Faced with these grim realities, much grimmer than Scorcese’s fairytale fantasy, it should surprise no one that many wanted the Irish out of the city—and the country. In 1854, the anti-immigration Know Nothing Party captured 75 seats in Congress.

In a vicious circle, religious and ethnic discrimination was causing growing problems for New York’s Irish, while the destructive behavior of New York’s Irish fed growing religious and ethnic discrimination.

It took a charismatic religious leader to lead the Irish—and the nation—out of this destructive circle. “Dagger” John Hughes, an Irish immigrant gardener who became the first Catholic archbishop of New York, makes only a silent cameo appearance in Gangs of New York, looking like a refugee from The Godfather; but in the real world, he catalyzed a remarkable cultural change that would liberate Gotham’s Irish from their self-destructive underclass behavior, so that within a generation they began flooding into the American mainstream (see “How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish,” Spring 1997). It’s a shame that Scorcese didn’t find a bigger part in his film for this brilliant, complex, and extremely effective man. (Given Hollywood’s usual hostility to religion, however, Scorcese’s treatment of religion in the film is surprisingly sympathetic.)

Hughes emerged as an aggressive champion of Irish and Catholic civil rights. Confronting a Methodist minister who’d been detailing the history of Catholic Church misdeeds in Europe, he charged: “Yours sir, is a young religion; there are no misdeeds in your past, but no glories either.” He never tired of telling Protestants that it was the Catholic Church that had given the world the modern university, organized philanthropy, the hospital, and the West’s greatest music and art. He reminded listeners that it was Protestant England that crushed religious liberty in Ireland—oppression that had victimized his family, who had come to America for its freedom of conscience. Hughes remained enthralled with America’s great potential to be a land of pluralism and tolerance. As a 19-year-old manual laborer in 1819, shortly after arriving in the U.S., Hughes had written a poem attacking slavery as out of keeping with America’s true greatness. (This is a point Scorcese’s film, with its failure of historical imagination, misses: the Civil War was not simply an occasion for the WASP power structure to draft poor Irishmen to die on the battlefield but an intensely moral struggle to free the slaves, in which Americans of all backgrounds gave their lives.)

Yet if Hughes attacked religious and ethnic bigotry, he also recognized that the dysfunctional behavior of New York’s Irish was more destructive than the discrimination against them. After all, he knew that German immigrants, 40 percent of whom were also Catholic (the majority was Protestant, with a small minority of Jews), were almost immediately successful upon arriving in the country, even though most had come to America with no more money than their Irish counterparts—though they did arrive as intact families to a much greater degree than the Irish. German Catholic immigrants did not experience anything akin to the troubles of Irish Catholics, proving that the source of Irish difficulties was not simply their religion or that their ancestors weren’t English. Tellingly, there are almost no reports of German gangs in the historical period that Gangs of New York—both the movie and the 1928 book by Herbert Asbury on which it is based—portrays.

The Irish badly needed rescue, then, and Hughes set out to be their rescuer. Religious renewal would be his chosen means of salvation. When asked what he was going to do about the Irish problem, Hughes replied curtly, “We are going to teach them their religion.” England had sharply curtailed the teaching of Catholicism in Ireland, so the rural Irish who came to America had almost no religious training. Scorcese accurately shows the dominant Catholicism of the New York Irish as a kind of ritualistic superstition; St. Thomas would not have recognized it. This degraded Catholicism could not long resist the worldly temptations of Five Points.

Hughes was fortunate to have more than his own considerable talent to rely on in reforming the New York Irish. The Oxford movement in England had resulted in the conversion to the Catholic Church of a number of brilliant and talented individuals, most famously John Henry Cardinal Newman. In New York, the movement had an even greater influence, leading several highly educated Protestants to convert to Catholicism. Many of these high-profile converts—Levi Silliman Ives (see “Once We Knew How to Rescue Poor Kids,” Autumn 1998), James Roosevelt Bayley, Elizabeth Boyle, Isaac Hecker, James McMaster, and others—offered to help the Irish; Hughes astutely availed himself of their services. Hughes also developed close relationships with WASP politicians like William H. Seward, the Whig Governor of New York. Many WASPs shared Hughes’s vision of a pluralistic America and felt that a large numbers of immigrants would speed the economic development of the country. They understood that with the help of immigrants, the U.S. could become the greatest economic power the world has ever known, and its greatest democracy. Too bad that Scorcese treats all WASP politicians and philanthropists as naive buffoons, without recognizing the value of their efforts to uplift the newcomers, very much an American tradition.

With the help of WASP pols and his talented converts, Hughes launched a series of what today we would call “faith-based initiatives.” These charitable initiatives, which often received government funding, aimed at everything from fighting alcoholism and promiscuity to boosting economic development and the self-esteem of Irish women. The initiatives drew on the power of faith to call people to personal responsibility. A life devoted to the Ten Commandments, Hughes recognized, would lead people to be responsible in their sexual conduct, to care for their children, to respect the elderly, to minister to the sick, to be financially responsible, and to live disciplined lives—a recipe for individual and communal success.

Hughes’s efforts proved astonishingly successful. In less than a generation, the New York Irish moved from being criminals to being the policemen and prosecutors who put the bad guys behind bars. In the mid-nineteenth century, New York Irish women had a reputation for promiscuity. By the end of the century, people chided them for being puritanical. By 1890, two-thirds of the schoolteachers in the city’s schools were Irish women. Temperance societies in every parish convinced most of the women and some of the men to abstain from alcohol. By 1880, when banking and shipping magnate William Grace became the first Irish-Catholic mayor of New York, people viewed the Irish as “a churched people.” Some, like Grace, had accumulated significant wealth; many more had entered the middle class; few resembled the violent, drunken, aimless citizens of 1860’s Five Points.

Hughes and his allies won a monumental struggle with the nativists. If they hadn’t won, the mass immigration of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century might not have happened, because opposition to newcomers would have continued to grow, and the nation’s openness might have closed. America would have looked in the twentieth century like a gigantic WASP version of Japan. John Hughes is an American figure of major historic proportions.

Today in inner city America, of course, we have another underclass, this one largely African-American. Since the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, many barriers to black advancement have come down, and the nation’s blacks have made considerable progress in many areas. Almost everyone would agree that the nation has more work to do to remove racist attitudes and racial discrimination. But what is also holding some blacks back is the explosion of out-of-wedlock births among African-Americans over the last several decades. As the data conclusively show, children born out of wedlock have an exponentially greater chance of living in poverty, committing a crime, doing poorly in school, going to prison, taking drugs, and suffering from a host of other problems than do children born to a married couple. Good schools mean little if a child has no interest in education; economic opportunity means even less if a child isn’t raised in a culture where the day after tomorrow matters.

In other words, culture is key. As Alcoholics Anonymous or any psychiatrist understands as well as Hughes, people often have problems that they can only solve by changing their inner self and accepting the idea of personal responsibility. That’s why faith-based initiatives, with their emphasis on inner transformation and individual accountability, help produce the kind of responsible citizens any freedom-loving democracy needs. They have been an important means for social progress throughout U.S. history, and they’ve often received government help in carrying out their mission. It has only been in recent decades that the courts have prevented government from enlisting this aid.

President Bush has proposed a program through which government would again provide support to faith-based initiatives for the purpose of solving social problems. Arrayed against these initiatives are the new nativists: the cultural Left, including the New York Times, the A.C.L.U., liberal justices, and a number of left-liberal elected officials. Unlike their nineteenth century predecessors, they don’t want the Catholic Church cast out of the country. Instead they want all religion cast out of the public square.

On December 30, 2002, the Times published an editorial entitled using tax dollars for churches. The editorial asserted: “It is clearer today than ever that one of America’s greatest strengths is that we are a nation in which people are free to practice any faith or no faith, and the government keeps out of the religious realm. This is a tradition that has served America ever since its founding. There is no reason to tamper with it now.”

This is revisionism worthy of Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Times correspondent in Moscow who, when the Soviet government precipitated a famine in the Ukraine that killed at least 5 million people, blatantly denied the existence of the starvation in his dispatches to his editors back in the states. In 1871, the Times published an editorial arguing that government support of Catholic Charities was out of proportion to the trifling sums granted Protestant institutions. “How long will Protestants endure?,” the Times worried. The Times has gone from arguing “let’s give the Protestants more” to “let’s give nothing to religion.” The fact is, nineteenth century Americans—the Times included—understood religion’s essential role in fighting social problems.

For most of its history, government has helped religious institutions when they perform activities that help the country as a whole—and that secular service should be the test as to whether a faith-based institution (or, for that matter, a secular one) receives taxpayer support. In truth, the new nativists don’t like the moral teachings of traditional Judeo-Christian religion, and they want those teachings to disappear—regardless of how much that hurts America.

Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York only briefly depicts the role that religiously motivated people were playing in trying to help the citizens of Five Points during the 1860s, and doesn’t show at all the crucial fact that their efforts were gradually changing the culture.

A Roman general, when his officers dragged the leading actor of Rome before him, after they caught the actor sleeping with the general’s wife, said, “Don’t kill him; let him go—he’s only an actor.” We should forgive Scorsese for missing an opportunity. After all, he’s only a Hollywood director. And perhaps we should ignore the New York Times as well. After all, it is only the paper of Walter Duranty.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; US: New York
KEYWORDS: irishcatholic
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1 posted on 01/14/2003 3:57:12 PM PST by aculeus
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To: Happygal; dighton; general_re
Fascinating Irish in America history.

From John Hughes to Bernard Law ... ugh.

2 posted on 01/14/2003 3:59:48 PM PST by aculeus
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3 posted on 01/14/2003 4:09:43 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: aculeus
The movie was pretty poor. For $70 million, Martin Scorcese produced what was essentially a "spaghetti Western." Even some of the background scenes looked similar. With that kind of money, even adjusted for inflation, Sergio Leone could have produced over a dozen spaghetti Westerns. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef (as they looked 35 years ago) would have been far better in the roles assigned to Leonard DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis. Eli Wallach would have been a far better two-timing cutthroat than the lightweights they hired. (No doubt his Irish accent, overlaying his real life New York whine, would have been funnier than his Mexican one.) Ann-Margaret or Ursula Andress (again, circa 1965) would have been better as the "soiled dove" than Cameron Diaz was.

On top of that, the movie had a gratuitous "token Negro," class warfare nonsense, and blatant Protestant bashing. FReepers, save your money by avoiding this horrid movie and contribute to the latest fund drive for this Web site!

4 posted on 01/14/2003 4:13:59 PM PST by Wallace T.
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To: aculeus
I guess I¡¦ve been around here for about 5 years or so now. Time sure flies!

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5 posted on 01/14/2003 4:15:42 PM PST by MonroeDNA (What's the frequency, Kenneth?)
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To: Happygal; dighton; general_re
For more of Stern on Hughes go here
6 posted on 01/14/2003 4:19:56 PM PST by aculeus (Why do so many of my posts become boob bait?)
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To: Wallace T.
Ditto all that. This movie sucked, and hard.
7 posted on 01/14/2003 4:24:08 PM PST by martin_fierro (WHO DAT EATIN' DAT NASTY FOOD?)
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To: Wallace T.
I thought the movie was really well shot and the story was decent. Daniel Day Lewis's performance was fantastic, although Cameron Diaz and Leo left something to be desired.

You complain about there being class warfare, but that's what happened. The draft riots actually did happen, roughly in the manner they were depicted. If you tell the truth, is that bad? I'd rather see the hard truth than the comforting falsehood. I think it's valuable to see how far we've come, and how far we will continue to go if we let the Capitalist system do its work.

And honestly, Protestants didn't want Catholics in New York. Are you denying that? Al Smith was defeated for president largely due to his Catholicism. I ask once again, is the hard truth worse than the soft comfort of myth?
8 posted on 01/14/2003 4:32:30 PM PST by Buckeye Bomber (Justice, not vengeance)
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To: aculeus
Haven't seen the movie yet, but plan to this week this time. I'll get back to ye, when I have.

Thanks for the ping :-)
9 posted on 01/14/2003 4:40:18 PM PST by Happygal
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To: Buckeye Bomber
I ask once again, is the hard truth worse than the soft comfort of myth?

Yes. Next question, please.

10 posted on 01/14/2003 4:43:55 PM PST by AM2000
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To: aculeus
Michale Barone has written a very instructive book about immigration to America: The New Americans

The chapter comparing the Irish experience in the nineteenth century to the AfricanAmerican in the twentieth century is quite thought-provoking.
11 posted on 01/14/2003 5:01:56 PM PST by maica
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To: aculeus
Interesting. I haven't seen the movie...2 in diapers makes it difficult for sitters for movies.

I know it covers the WBTS draft riots, does Martin gloss over the massive lynchings of black freedmen and escaped slaves by NYers?
12 posted on 01/14/2003 5:09:20 PM PST by wardaddy (whaddaya mean funny??)
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To: Wallace T.
I'm a big Scorcese fan, I like his visual style and I love his use of music. And I was looking forward to this movie until I saw a preview that included a scene with a bunch of people wearing stovetop hats squaring off for a rumble, almost fell out of my chair laughing. That might be historically accurate but it just looks damn silly, I would expect a director of Scorcese's calliber to know when to ditch accuracy for the sake of the movie.
13 posted on 01/14/2003 5:25:33 PM PST by discostu (Life sucks, humans are fallible, feces occurs... deal)
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To: aculeus
Due to my own boycott of Hollywood I have only seen two movies in two years. The Count of Monte Christo and Gangs. If anyone has read these books by John Updike ,the first two Rabbit series set in 1958 and 1968 in Pennsylvania. (Rabbit Run and Rabbit Redux), they may compare this criticism.

The story may be sordid, it may even be slightly degenerate to some extent. One saving grace though,both in these books and the film, is that what they have in common is that the imagery is absolutely superb . It is many, many years, since such a re-creation of a scene long gone, has its equal in movie making.

Worth seeing for that alone. Yes, the Irish have come a long way. I seem to remember as a kid a 1940's movie, with the St Patricks Day parade. Judy Garland gave it all she had, singing. It's a great day for the Irish. Fortunately we were given a legacy by the photographer Jacob Riis (sp) which tend to bear out something of the despair of the immigrant, even thirty years or so later.

14 posted on 01/14/2003 5:53:34 PM PST by Peter Libra
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To: Peter Libra
To self. Hollywood hokum and family fun movie. "Little Nellie Kelly" is the film(1940). This film more contemporary than Gangs does show the vibrancy of the Irish,and their little family troubles. Does Garland ever belt out, It's a great day for the Irish!

Jacob Riis, spelling is right, chronicled life in New York of the 1890's some thirty years after the draft riots. Gangs should be seen, be prepared though for a lot of violence etc.

15 posted on 01/14/2003 6:31:21 PM PST by Peter Libra
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To: aculeus
Stern: "...the Civil War was... an intensely moral struggle to free the slaves, in which Americans of all backgrounds gave their lives."

Stern may know about the history of immigration, but needs to catch up on Civil War history. From Paul Craig Roberts --

    The War Between the States was not fought over slavery. Lincoln fought the war to preserve the Union. In the second year of the war, Lincoln told the abolitionist Horace Greeley, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.”

    The South wanted out of the Union because the tariffs that protected Northern manufacturers were a drain on Southern agricultural incomes. It is true that there were bloody-minded abolitionists in the North and hotheads in the South, but the Civil War was not fought over blacks.

The war was more than half over when Lincoln, reluctantly and under great pressure from the Radicals, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a lukewarm document that freed only certain slaves in certain states. Freeing the slaves was a special project of the Radicals and abolitionists, a goal they accomplished only after the war's end. But "historians" like Stern will perpetuate the same myths forever.

16 posted on 01/14/2003 6:37:09 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: Happygal
I may see the film sometime but I found Stern's account of John Hughes role in early NY history (ignored apparently in the movie) most fascinating.

17 posted on 01/14/2003 6:39:58 PM PST by aculeus
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To: Buckeye Bomber
I was happy to read what you wrote. We were going to see it this weekend but never did. I want to and still plan to and I never, ever go to the show so that says a lot. Thanks.
18 posted on 01/14/2003 6:41:21 PM PST by ShadowDancer
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To: Buckeye Bomber
The movie glossed over what was essentially a pogrom of the blacks by the Irish rioters. Few, if any, rich Anglo-Protestants were lynched by the mobs while dozens of blacks were, even the inhabitants of a black orphanage. Scorcese gave the riots a Marxist class warfare spin when such was not the case. Had the riots truly been class warfare, why would the Irish not have allied with the blacks and working class Anglo-Protestants (and not just German and Polish immigrants) to overthrow New York City's elite?

Some of the Irish in New York City were sympathetic to the Confederacy, as Ireland's desire to break away from the United Kingdom resembled Dixie's desire to secede from the United States. Also, Southerners saw themselves as the successors of the English Cavaliers, who were allied with the Irish Catholics on the Royalist side during the English Civil War. The Anglo-Protestants of the Northeast were, to a considerable extent, the descendants of Puritans who sided with the Roundheads, the Royalists' opponents. None of this was depicted. Indeed, the nativist leader played by Daniel Day Lewis was shown as anti-Lincoln and pro-slavery while DiCaprio's Irish gang boasted its very own "token Negro." In fact, most Know-Nothings became Republicans after their movement collapsed.

There are other examples of PC thought in this movie. "Faith based" social help is shown as hypocritical and obtuse, as reflected by DiCaprio's snotty attitude toward it (tossing a King James Bible he received at an orphanage into a river; telling a Protestant minister running a charity dance to "go to hell" when he mentioned when services were held). When Cameron Diaz engages in theft, or Leonard DiCaprio and his friend steal the prized possessions of a fellow Irish immigrant whose home caught fire, their poverty and oppression, of course, justify their thievery.

What production qualities were in the movie, as well as Daniel Day Lewis' performance, are outweighed by the miscasting of DiCaprio and Diaz, the historical inaccuracies, and the leftist ideology in the story.

19 posted on 01/14/2003 6:43:01 PM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Peter Libra

Bandits' Roost, c. 1890
Jacob A. Riis
Hand-colored glass lantern slide
The Jacob A. Riis Collection, 90.13.5.59

20 posted on 01/14/2003 6:44:45 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: aculeus
I enjoyed that read, thanks.
I'll wait for cable, mostly because my movie $$ are reserved for the really great stuff like LOTR.
The teasers didn't much make me want to see this, except for DD-L. At the very least I expect his performance to be intense, as always lol.
As dramatic and provocative as the gang wars may have been, I do think are far more interesting movie would indeed have been the story of the Irish (and other) immigrants who made great strides in a relatively short period of time. Really a lesson to be learned there, and reminded of as often as necessary.
21 posted on 01/14/2003 6:50:36 PM PST by visualops ("..we could give it all back to you, and hope you spend it right.." -Clinton on the surplus, 1-20-99)
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To: Wallace T.
"None of this was depicted."

Why would Scorsese want to depict 17th and 18th century trends?

22 posted on 01/14/2003 6:54:10 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: Buckeye Bomber
And honestly, Protestants didn't want Catholics in New York. Are you denying that? Al Smith was defeated for president largely due to his Catholicism. I ask once again, is the hard truth worse than the soft comfort of myth?

I think you're the one propagating a myth. Smith swept the states of the Old Confederacy, where Catholics were about as plentiful as hen's teeth. Hoover kicked Smith's crooked butt in the rest of the nation (including the heavily catholic Great Lakes states and Northeast.

23 posted on 01/14/2003 7:07:35 PM PST by Castlebar
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To: Castlebar
Smith showed his true colors after he was "cheated" out of the 1932 nomination by FDR. He endorsed Roosevelt's Republican opponents in 1936 and 1940. Principle and party came a poor last to the fishmonger's personal ambitions.

NB. Of course, the Klan intensely disliked Smith, but by the 20s, they were strongest in the midwest, not the South. And there were a few southern states that Smith lost in 1928, but in general, your observation is right.

24 posted on 01/14/2003 7:35:15 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: wardaddy
I know it covers the WBTS draft riots, does Martin gloss over the massive lynchings of black freedmen and escaped slaves by NYers?

I posted this not as a movie review (and cut a couple of paragraphs that referred to it) but because of Stern's comments on John Hughes. His other column, linked in #6, gives more details about this man, an under-appreciated hero.

25 posted on 01/14/2003 8:22:55 PM PST by aculeus
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To: aculeus
Saw the movie.

It was a confused mess with no point of view except anarchic violence.

As the writer makes clear: some things never change. Don't look to the fourth estate (the press) for wisdom, nor to the fifth estate (or fifth column) i.e. the entertainment industry.

But where are those men of God and the streets like John Hughes or William Booth ?

26 posted on 01/14/2003 8:34:23 PM PST by happygrl
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To: Bonaparte
Most of the movie is set in the 1861-63 period, so 17th and 18th Century trends are not relevant. However, "Gangs of New York" did not show the considerable body of pro-Southern sentiment among Irish immigrants in the North. It did exist in part because of the Cavalier-Catholic alliance in support of the Stuart dynasty. Historians like David Hackett Fischer and social commentators like Kevin Phillips have written on the roots of American culture and social conflict even in our time in the controversies of the British Isles in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
27 posted on 01/14/2003 9:35:31 PM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Wallace T.
Thanks for answering my question in post 12 even though not directed at you. I had assumed the original poster had seen the movie.

I like Scorsese's texture and non-stop momentum (usually) but expected he'd give it a PC washover and a lefty slant.

Too bad....worse still is that average ignorant Joe and Jane America will view it as historically sound.

I did hear that Lewis's performance is monumental.

DiCaprio should stick with Gilbert Grape type roles...they are better suited to his "gravitas". Diaz?...yep..miscast I'm sure.

BTW....I saw Mel Gibson on O'Reilly tonight...seems Hollywood and the print media are incensed over his positive portrayal of Christ in his upcoming flick with Jim Caviziel as Jesus...Caviziel is a devout Christian too. If those folks hate it then it must be good....I better brush up on my aramaic and latin....I hope it's subtitled.

Juxtapose that with Scorsese's abominational Jesus film in the 80s....yuck..hurl.
28 posted on 01/14/2003 9:58:37 PM PST by wardaddy (gravitas?....is it ok to use that word again now in proper context?)
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To: Wallace T.
Thanks for answering my question in post 12 even though not directed at you. I had assumed the original poster had seen the movie.

I like Scorsese's texture and non-stop momentum (usually) but expected he'd give it a PC washover and a lefty slant.

Too bad....worse still is that average ignorant Joe and Jane America will view it as historically sound.

I did hear that Lewis's performance is monumental.

DiCaprio should stick with Gilbert Grap type roles...they are better suited to his "gravitas". Diaz?...yep..miscast I'm sure.

BTW....I saw Mel Gibson on O'Reilly tonight...seems Hollywood and the print media are incensed over his positive portrayal of Christ in his upcoming flick with Jim Caviziel as Jesus...Caviziel is a devout Christian too. If those folks hate it then it must be good....I better brush up on my aramaic and latin....I hope it's subtitled.

Juxtapose that with Scorsese's abominational Jesus film in the 80s....yuck..hurl.
29 posted on 01/14/2003 10:25:19 PM PST by wardaddy
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To: wardaddy
The N.Y. Post flamed this latest Scorsese movie. It's historically inacurate, most of the acting stinks, and doesn't even use much of the book's material. Pure Hollywood drivel; so says the N.Y.P. ! Read the book; I did ... long ago.

BTW, you have mail. :-)

30 posted on 01/14/2003 10:31:53 PM PST by nopardons
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To: Bonaparte
Re your graphic reproduction of the Jacob Riis photograph. Wow, this will certainly speed me on my way across to Michigan and my donation to FR. Great!
31 posted on 01/14/2003 10:33:26 PM PST by Peter Libra
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To: nopardons
Thanks for the mail...I just got it. I have had trouble logging on tonight....I loathe my cheap 1.2 gig AMD processor....it's shakey and prone to freeze up....and my cable company server seems to let a lot more flotsam up the pipe than my DSL does at work. I need my techie to come over and bail me out.

I sort of figured Scorsese would make this into a lefty class warfare thing....is that close?

I did hear Lewis was quite good in his role?

Wasn't the old 5 points area around the Bowery and the old old Police Station?....I should have read up and studied it more when I lived there.

Warm Regards.
32 posted on 01/14/2003 10:40:05 PM PST by wardaddy
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To: wardaddy
The posted colored Riis picture is of one of the places in the Five Points, at a somewhat later period of time and that's one of the gangs ( Black & Tan ? )which followed those mentioned in the movie. Yes, it is near the Bowery. Even as a tiny child, I knew a little about that area. Ever hear the old song : " THE BOWERY " ? It's about the gangs, etc. and what went on their. I've read a great deal about this area ; it's fascinating stuff. :-)

Sorry to hear about your server. :-(

I don't know WHY Scorses fiddled so with the facts. It didn't make this movie " better ". As to the cast...there aren't any good American actors/actresses anymore. BTW, DD-L REALLY got his nose broken, in one of the filmed fight scenes and went right on fighting. SOME OF THE GORE IS REAL AND NOT MAX FACTOR PANCROMATIC BLOOD #5.

There's a new book out " THE FIVE POINTS ", which I am going to get and read ASAP. :-)

33 posted on 01/14/2003 10:48:32 PM PST by nopardons
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To: Clemenza; rmlew; Cacique; firebrand; evilC
Gangs of New York ping.

This article appears in the current issue of City Journal, published by The Manhattan Institute.

34 posted on 01/14/2003 10:49:39 PM PST by nutmeg
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To: nopardons
I do need to read up. Right now I'm reading Kitchen Confidential (vulgar but good), Bias (McGowan's book is much better), and Fortunes, Fiddles, and Fried Chicken (a post-bellum history of Nashville Gentry....pretty entertaining since I know a fair number of the descendents).

35 posted on 01/14/2003 11:00:16 PM PST by wardaddy (sometimes....I admit it....I miss Manhattan....in the rain with my apt. or loft windows open)
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To: aculeus; nutmeg
“Dagger” John Hughes

In addition to defending poor Catholics, the future Archbishop Hughes was also founder of Clemenza's alma mater in the then rural Bronx. There is a nice statue of him in front of the old Rose Hill Estate (now the administration building). Although the neighborhood around it has changes, the university remains a "green" campus just as it was when Dagger John founded it (the dorm I lived in was built shortly before the Civil War).

In the university's early years, a frequent visitor to John Hughes and the other Jesuits was a writer who lived in a small cottage nearby, one Edgar Allen Poe.

36 posted on 01/14/2003 11:04:09 PM PST by Clemenza (That's my Fordham History lesson for today. Next week: Robert Gould Shaw, Fordham Alumnus...)
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To: wardaddy
Wasn't the old 5 points area around the Bowery and the old old Police Station?....I should have read up and studied it more when I lived there.

OK. The Five Points was cleared for an early version of "urban renewal" in the 1880s. The northern boundary of the neighborhood was where Columbus Park is now, at the end of Mulberry Street between Little Italy and Chinatown. The courthouse marks the southern boundary of what was once the neighborhood. The Bowery is a little to the East of where the five points once were.

37 posted on 01/14/2003 11:08:29 PM PST by Clemenza (East Side, West Side, all over town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York!)
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To: wardaddy; nopardons
For a good history of "street" life in New York from the 1790s to the 1910s, check out Luc Sante's outstanding book Low Life when you get the chance.
38 posted on 01/14/2003 11:09:59 PM PST by Clemenza (East Side, West Side, all over town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York!)
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To: wardaddy
I'm trying to get out of London/England in the 18th century. That's what I've been reading lately and I'm sick of it ! If there was ever a time period, that I would NEVER want to live through, this one is VERY high on my list. A few of the books I've been reading are : " A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER "," CARABOO "," LONDON HANGED ", " THIEVES' OPERA ", and just finished " JOHNSON'S LONDON ". They're all fascinating, full of hard , cold facts ( though the first two are fiction, based on historical facts ), and well worth the read. Anyone, who thinks that 18th century America ( or any other place at that time period ) was a good time to live, doesn't know much, if anything at all, about what life was REALLY ,?B> like back then.

What's " KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL " about ?

39 posted on 01/14/2003 11:10:37 PM PST by nopardons
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To: Clemenza
Read that when it was first published. That's a fantastic book and a great read. :-)
40 posted on 01/14/2003 11:11:37 PM PST by nopardons
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To: aculeus; All
As I have stated on other threads, I LOVED the movie, despite some historical inaccuracies. The 1863 draft riots are rarely talked about in high school history classes (especially in the early 1960s, when my parents were in school), despite the fact that they were the most violent civil insurrection in American History (other than the "War of Southern Arrogance" of course).
41 posted on 01/14/2003 11:12:15 PM PST by Clemenza (East Side, West Side, all over town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York!)
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To: nopardons; Wallace T.; martin_fierro; Happygal; discostu; Peter Libra
THIS MOVIE SUCKS, REALLY SUCKS, and I loved Scorcese with Taxi Driver etc. However, I don't care if the libs screwed up the history or not, it just isn't worth a spit! This one has lots of colors and camera shots of gratuitous fighting, and we usually love gratuitous fighting, but this baby face boy, with a sorry Irish accent, and fighting?... nope.... it doesn't work...we 3 guys walked out after 45 minutes... save your money...came home and watched CONAIR... again!
42 posted on 01/14/2003 11:13:31 PM PST by carlo3b (Tell your kids you love them today, tomorrow may be too late....)
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To: Clemenza
Thanks...I got it now. I know Mulberry well.....used to take visitors to Luna's for Rollatinis(sic) and Ferraras afterwards for Shfotellas (sic again) and espressos.

And yes I knew even then that the best Italian food was in Brooklyn but everybody wanted to see Little Italy and stuff like that joint where Joey Gallo got clipped.
43 posted on 01/14/2003 11:14:44 PM PST by wardaddy (I think Manhattan.....I think Roxy Music's Avalon...strange eh?)
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To: Clemenza
The riots WERE taught, just a few years ealier, in the '50s.
44 posted on 01/14/2003 11:15:22 PM PST by nopardons
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To: Clemenza
bookmarking...
45 posted on 01/14/2003 11:15:56 PM PST by wardaddy
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To: Wallace T.
(and not just German and Polish immigrants)

THIS WAS A TOTAL LIE!!! The Germans DID NOT participate in the draft riots and were, in fact, staunch supporters of the Union cause (which got them in trouble when they settled in places like Kerrville, Texas). As for the Poles, THERE WAS NO LARGE POLISH POPULATION IN NEW YORK IN THE 1860s. The few Poles that were in this country were in Panna Maria, Texas. The large wave of Polish immigrants came in the 1880s-1920s and, in any case, preferred places like Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh (to say nothing of Northern New Jersey, where Clemenza's paternal family settled) over NYC.

46 posted on 01/14/2003 11:16:46 PM PST by Clemenza (East Side, West Side, all over town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York!)
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To: carlo3b
Thanks, dear friend, for the review. I'll wait for it to come to cable, so that I can yell at the screen, add historical data, and hoot at little Leo, who can't act his way out of a wet paper bag.
47 posted on 01/14/2003 11:17:19 PM PST by nopardons
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To: nopardons
It's written by the head chef at Les Halles in Manhattan and is sort of an expose of kitchen culture and his own perilous route through it all. He started out as a prep school kid.

He's the chain smoking tall skinny guy (40s)on the food channel who travels all over the world eating at strange places. His dad was from the SW French coast(south of Bordeaux) and he's had an unusual and rather self indulgent life but seems to have recovered. Lots of jaded irony of course...he is half French...lol
48 posted on 01/14/2003 11:21:47 PM PST by wardaddy (a fair amount of gutter kitchen banter...you've been warned...)
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To: carlo3b
I tend to find that the people who dislike this movie 1. HATE historical films in general (unless its a war movie) or 2. Don't give a damn about New York. Since I saw the movie while visiting parents in Boca Raton, FL (aka New York South) those who did not like the film tended to be in the first camp. I'd say that the consensus regarding the film was about 60% in favor with 40% disliking it (no middle ground on this one).

BTW: Taxi Driver is my favorite movie of all time. As for Con Air what a bombastic load of Jerry Bruckheimer produced sh-t!

49 posted on 01/14/2003 11:23:06 PM PST by Clemenza (East Side, West Side, all over town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York!)
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To: wardaddy
Oh dear, I loathe him; he's so smarmy on that show. Maybe the book is better ? ;^ )
50 posted on 01/14/2003 11:26:08 PM PST by nopardons
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