Google cancels that big thing about St. Patrick's Day
Google has a lovely doodle today honoring St. Patrick, patron saint of all Ireland, whose feast day is today. It's a tightly focused design, colored with a series of greens and a pop of complementary violet and gold, done in the spare, trendy, minimalist near-"kawaii" style, which is big among web designers today. It's also clever, using pictures to illustrate each letter of the Google logo into a well unified whole. It's definitely the work of a pro who's well schooled in UX/UI design.
There's just one problem with it: It completely leaves out ... St. Patrick.
Nothing, zip, nada. And there sure as heck isn't any hint of what St. Patrick was about, which was bringing Christianity to pagan Ireland in the fifth century.
According to the designer, in his statement for Google:
Today's Doodle, illustrated by Dublin-based guest artist Arron Croasdell, honors a beloved Irish holiday celebrated worldwide: St. Patrick's Day.
Today's Doodle artwork features symbols that represent Ireland's diverse geography, architecture, and history.
Google says the doodle honors Ireland's geography (diverse, of course), architecture, and history — never mind the actual person of St. Patrick, who really existed, from 402 to 491 or 493 A.D.
The doodle doesn't mention St. Patrick at all, or more important, that thing he's famous for bringing to Ireland, Christianity, which is what the old bishop was about.
It reminds me of the scrubbing of history we have seen in California, the leftist bid to erase any sign or knowledge of the state's founder, Catalán padre St. Junípero Serra, or any of his dreaded Christian missions and crosses, from California.
Now, obviously, nobody wants a Google doodle to be extremely religious in tone, given the company's global reach. But a nod to St. Patrick himself, or a sign of the religion he brought, which was his mission, and which has been integral to the Irish identity, at least until recently, should not have been eliminated, either, because it's a matter of simple history. It's actually essential to Ireland and its identity, and without it, the place is a soulless eurozone drone state that doesn't really have a point.
They could have put something in there in some kind of sanitized form about St. Patrick or the Christianity he brought — nothing too religious, but not utterly absent, either. They didn't to any meaningful extent. It's a kind of censorship, actually.
What they honored instead was about what you'd expect of Google: they honored the state, Big Government, and threw in some stuff about the environment. Here's the Google statement below, emphasis mine:
The first icon signifies the country's verdant mountains, forests, and coastal lighthouses, many of which stand near popular walking and swimming sites. The imagery in the first "o" is a nod to the hands and heart of the legendary Claddagh ring, a symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship. The second "o" incorporates a vase holding Irish wildflowers — spring squill and crocuses — as well as a three-leafed clover, an iconic state emblem of Ireland that represents faith, hope, and love.
A depiction of the numerous rivers that run through many Irish towns and cities replaces the "g" as the "l" stands for Ireland's natural woodlands, much of which are being restored thanks to new state reforestation initiatives. Finally, the "e" is replaced by a Celtic knot, a symbol of Irish hope in the infinite interconnectedness of humanity.
They honored some pagan symbols with their "icons" (gee, what does "icon" mean?), but not Christian ones, which have been a lot more important to Irish identity. Some of the symbols were actually invented or adapted and replicated for use in the tourist trade. Google paid significant tribute to the environment and ecology, as global warmers like to do, which is OK but hardly the full story of Ireland. Worst of all, they praised what they really like, which is the state, citing its reforestation initiatives, the state being Google's idea of religion. So much for St. Patrick; he didn't have a chance. It reminds me of that repugnant display in London at the Olympics of British dancers flitting around to honor the National Health Service as if that's what Britain is about. Google did praise Ireland's architecture with a generic-looking icon depiction, omitting that, like Padre Serra, St. Patrick's the guy who brought Ireland its most beautiful architecture, in its ancient monasteries. St. Patrick was also an engineer, an influential one, as it happened. They couldn't even honor St. Patrick for that.
And St. Patrick himself? Well, there was that tiny shamrock, perhaps; you have to look to find it. You could argue that that is a symbol of St. Patrick, but Google doesn't mention it.
Legend has it (unverified but certainly logical) that St. Patrick used shamrocks to teach the pagans about the nature of the Holy Trinity as three in one, which, in a more sanitized form, is identified by Google as "faith, hope, and love." That isn't wrong, but it's not the big one. Patrick didn't go to Ireland preaching "faith, hope, and charity," which are Christian derivatives; he went and preached Christianity. It's simple history. In fact, the most famous symbol St. Patrick gave Ireland, and this one is verifiable, is the beautiful Celtic cross, which remains extremely popular today as crosses go, a design that Patrick integrated with the Irish pagan symbol for the sun, which is commonly done in Christianity. No Celtic crosses for sure in the Google doodle, even though it's a big-time symbol of Ireland. Other icons Google noted had descriptions that were over-sanitized. According to this authoritative-appearing account, the last knot is not about the interconnectedness of humanity as Google claims; it's about love.
That was a shame, because St. Patrick does have a compelling personal story that should have gotten some kind of nod from the design.
He was a son of Roman-empire aristocrats, probably Britons, captured as a 16-year-old by vicious Irish pirates, dragged far from home in chains, forced to tend sheep in a lonely captivity with almost no human contact, and being awakened in a dream by angels who told him a ship was waiting for him at a nearby harbor, which allowed him to escape and return home. In gratitude, he became a priest, and then he was sent to Paris for clerical education by his rich parents, with a likely pleasant, meditative, and peaceful life ahead of him. But he got another call from the angels, asking him to go back to that hellhole that had imprisoned him and convert those pagans, including the hideous elites, the dreaded Druids, whose first thought upon seeing him was "let's kill him." He converted them instead by some amazing sort of faith and commitment, and the rest is history.
None of that merited a nod in Google's doodle to St. Patrick? No pirates, no scary Druids, no ship to freedom, no beautiful architecture? I'm not Irish, not even Irish heritage. Like Patrick, I'm non-Irish, but I love and appreciate this interesting story, and lots of people of whatever faith can appreciate it. Apparently, Google doesn't.
They should have called it Irish State and Environment Day, not St. Patrick's Day, given what they honored. The Google doodle is charming, but on St. Patrick's Day, it's missing something awfully big.
Image: Google screen shot.