Damn. Just when I was complaining that genealogy shouldn’t matter, along comes someone who says it does.
In this case, Irish-American activist Niall O’Dowd, publisher of IrishCentral.com, and an “adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism” came up with this startling headline:

Harvard prof Gates is half-Irish, related to cop who arrested him

That headline — along with Mr. O’Dowd’s entire piece — ran as an ABC story.
But when the redoubtable Tom Maguire (I don’t know, but I suspect he might be at least as Irish as Gates) checked out the details, he determined that the headline was highly misleading, in that Gates is at most 1/16th Irish. The Irish ancestor to whom he traced his genealogy was neither his father nor his mother, but a man born in the early part of the 19th century.
(Via Glenn Reynolds, who does not divulge his genealogical background, but who may also be half Irish according to ABC’s journalistic standards.)
By way of disclosure, by the ABC’s genealogical standards I am also half Irish! (And half Norwegian, half Scottish, half German, half Welsh, and half English.)
Not that it matters whether anyone is half Irish. But is it really necessary to act like Ward O’Churchill?
AFTERTHOUGHT: In Mr. O’Dowd’s defense, I think it’s fair to recall the, um, traditional “rule” that all persons who were one-sixteenth black were to be classified as black. So it’s possible that maybe there’s an emerging new kind of half-baked rule (embracing the rules of the oppressor) that if you’re one sixteenth Irish and left wing enough, you too can coattail along with the narrative and call yourself “half-Irish.”
MORE: According to the so-called “one-drop theory,” having a single black ancestor anywhere (meaning less than a sixteenth) would be sufficient to confer the racial legal status of being black, but the one-drop rule was never applied to other races.
One of the great ironies is that even though the rule was abolished, it seems to have a new life.
AND MORE: Regarding the need to be “left wing enough” in order to qualify for identity politics treatment, remember that Clarence Thomas is not black. Similarly, Sarah Palin is not a woman.
Perhaps in some circles being Irish also has to be earned. I mean, the Irish Republican Army is one thing, but Irish Republicans need not apply!