‘That memorable day when Irish rugby beat the Hells Blacks and Tans’: Twitter erupts with memes after Joe Biden confusing the All Blacks with British paramilitaries as he praises his cousin Rob Kearney
Twitter erupted with memes after Joe Biden appeared to mistook New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team with British paramilitary force ‘The Black and Tans’ during a speech in an Irish pub.
The US president was paying tribute to distant relative and Irish rugby star Rob Kearney, before referring to a match between Ireland and New Zealand played at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2016.
He would talk about his heritage and notions of Irishness to a crowded Windsor Restaurant and Bar in Dundalk, County Louth, before describing how Kearney gave him his shamrock tie.
But Biden said, “This was given to me by one of those guys who, right here, was a hell of a rugby player.” The Hellfire has been defeated by the Black and Tans.
Social media users quickly created a wave of hilarious memes highlighting the president’s mistake.
US President Joe Biden is pictured during his speech in front of a packed pub in Dundalk, Ireland, yesterday
Who are the Black and Tans?
The Black and Tans were a 10,000-strong group of British recruits into the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Recruitment began in January 1920: many of those who signed up were unemployed veterans of the First World War, or convicts.
They were sent to Ireland to try to quash independence demands from Britain. The War of Independence took place from 1919 to 2121.
Their nickname came from their uniform – they wore some dark green Royal Irish Constabulary uniforms, which looked black, and some khaki British Army uniforms.
They were known for their brutality and reprisals against civilians: to this day, they are seen as a cruel and dishonorable force.
Kearney, who was named European Footballer of the Year in 2012, played a pivotal role in Ireland’s defeat of the All Blacks – the New Zealand national team – in November 2016, in Chicago.
It was the first time that Ireland had beaten New Zealand.
But Biden’s obfuscation of history also had a dark side.
The Black and Tans were a notorious group of policemen recruited to help the British cause during the Irish War of Independence – the 1919-1921 battle between the Irish Republican Army and British forces.
A July 1921 ceasefire divided the island, with Northern Ireland remaining under British control and the South gaining independence.
The Black and Tans – officially part of the Royal Irish Constabulary – were a group of 10,000 men recruited from Britain to try to defeat the Irish Republican Army. Their name came from their uniform: a mixture of the dark green of the RIC, which looked black, and the brown of the British Army.
Their fighting was so ferocious that rumors spread that they had been recruited from British prisons.
They were known for their brutality and took reprisals against civilians they believed were supporting the IRA.
Public opinion in the United Kingdom and Ireland was widely opposed to their actions.
The unit was disbanded in 1922, but to this day they remain Black and Tans shorthand for hyperviolence, and their role in the war remains controversial.
The troops are immortalized in the popular Irish rebel song “Come Out, Ye Black And Tans”.
What is the song Come Out Ye Black and Tans? The pro-IRA tune was written in the 1920s to support the republican cause during the Irish War of Independence
Come Out Ye Black and Tans is an Irish rebellious song about Black and Tans – officially known as the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve.
The Black and Tans were a British paramilitary police auxiliary force, formed in 1919 consisting of temporary constables during the Irish War of Independence.
They were given the nickname because of their combination of British Army khaki and RIC green rifle.
Most of the recruits were British veterans of the First World War, but were specifically considered to be separated from the army because the British government did not want to give credence to the cause of the “War of Independence”.
The Black and Tans were notorious for their cruelty and often clashed with civilians, as well as armed Republican forces – including the Irish Republican Army. The force was dissolved in 1922.
Dominic Behan wrote the song for his father, Stephen. And although it specifically mentions Black and Tans, the context of the song is a dispute between Republican and Loyalist groups in Dublin.
The song links Irish nationalism to the struggles of other peoples against the British Empire around the world, making references to the wars in the Middle East and the Zulus.
In modern times, “Black and Tans” is seen as a more general derogatory term for the British and British Army in Ireland.
The song is still sung by Irish rebel bands and folk singers and is occasionally heard at Ireland and Celtic football matches.
The song’s chorus says:
Come out, black and brown!
Come out and fight me like a man,
Show your wife how you won medals in Flanders,
Tell her how the IRA made you run away like hell,
From the green and pretty lanes of Killeshandra