That is what I was evidently trying to do when I commented to Brian Whelan on Twitter about his article in the Irish Times.
The trouble is that there’s so much wrong with it that it’s impossible to strike at the heart of it in 140 characters.
First there’s the perfectly absurd starting point. Some idiots (likely struggling to make double figures) who tried to organise an anti-Irish-march in Liverpool.
As if this is in any way representative of anything other than a handful of those types who tattoo themselves. Fair enough to highlight it, if only for the laughs, but as the basis of a case for resurgent anti-Irish ‘racism’? I doubt it.
Occasionally you may notice the signs of a previous tension; a total stranger might approach you in the pub upon hearing your accent to let you know their relative was killed while serving in the North, as if you were to blame or should apologise.
Okay fair enough. As if this has never happened, mutatis mutandis, to an Englishman in Kerry, Cork or wherever else in Eire. I’m not sure one datum point marks a trend though. This could just as easily be the long tail of the end of anti-Irish sentiment in Britain.
Next he observes that he gets snarky remarks below the line, at the bottom of the Internet:
people began to leave comments under articles I’ve written suggesting it’s time for me to move home and hand my job and house over to a British person.
Brian, the internet is a playground. A book said so, so it must be true. Every columnist who writes provocative pieces gets shit from the playground, and the playgrounders seek out the weak spot in their target. What will most get their back up? What will make them lash out? How do we get a rise? They’re a woman? Must be a bitch/slag/whore/minger/lesbian/shagged her way into her job. Tory? Evil baby-eating capitalist/milk snatcher/industry destroyer/rich/banker. Asian? Probably hiding jihadis in his laundry room. Irish? potato/famine/IRA/thick.
It’s just childish bollocks. That’s all it is. People don’t even believe what they’re saying deep down, they just want to get a rise out of you. It seems to have worked.
Sometimes, Brian continues, it’s not just people who are actually Irish who get grief, either.
It turns out I’m not alone. British-born journalist Brendan O’Neill regularly receives “Paddy-bashing’” abuse for simply having an Irish surname
People are thick, Brian. When Wade pulled off her idiot paedo-naming stunt at the NoW, her readers went after paediatricians, for Chrissakes!
Maybe realising he’s not exactly on solid, indignation inducing ground, he goes back to the knuckle draggers and their march. Their march is actually a ‘counter-march’, against an anti-facism & anti-racism that was planned in Liverpool by something called the James Larkin Society, apparently. James Larkin seems to have been a doyen of Irish workers rights in England. His society seems now to be an all purpose vehicle for radical lefties, bearing the impenetrable armour of being Irish, and therefore able to play the racism card.
Now, the way it looks to me, is that the far-right have caught wind of this protest against them, and decided that they should have some of that. And so the propaganda machine rolled into action.
At least Brian’s analysis of this propaganda is correct. It’s laughable. It’s about as credible as depicting black people living in trees. That is has come to light is a good thing, because it’ll be laughed out of town.
So have we got any evidence of genuine anti-Irish ‘racism’ yet?
I don’t think so. What I think we have is, once again, the far-right capitalising on the legitimate concerns of the lowest paid Brits, and making a fire from the embers of a conflict. Some English people felt sicked by the sight of the Queen shaking the hand of Martin McGuinness. Their distaste is legitimate. It is not racist, or even Xenophobic. I thought the whole occasion was in very poor taste indeed. This only serves to provide convenient fuel to the fire of the idiot fascists.
I think what we’ve also got is a bunch of lefty twats who want to march and make a noise about stuff in the way lefties are wont to do. And we also have a bunch of fascist twats who’ve decided to push everyone of the lefties’ buttons in however crass a way they care to do.
“Right lads. How can we get a rise out of these Paddy c**ts, make sure we get a good scrap out of ‘em?”
“Easy, innit. IRA, blown up kids, potato famine, stealing our jobs, go back where you can from etc etc.”
“Sweet. Toenails, make up 200 signs that say "’No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’”.
It’s just playground bullshit.
And if they’re threatening violence, then let the police take care of them. You’d surely feel slighted – and a bit disappointed – if a bunch of fascist idiots didn’t threaten violence. And, when it comes to the EDL and the UAF, there’s little doubt that both sides are bang up for it. Why should I believe that this anti-fascist march in Liverpool should be any different?
Can you honestly say that these anti-racist marchers aren’t likely to be up for a ruck with their chosen nemesis? Didn’t foresee, or even subtly provoke the possibility? That their movement couldn’t be just be a conduit for an all purpose Citizen Smith rabble?
It certainly doesn’t convince me that there’s a rise in anything other than idiots, and that isn’t news.
By the way, the use of the term ‘racist’ was Brian’s choice:
The unspoken rule seems to be that Irish people are white, so discriminating against them can’t be racist.
When did racism become conflated with xenophobia? It’s an aside I know, but it’s a long running bug bear. I bet Crick & Watson couldn’t identify any racial or even genetic differences between the modern English and the Irish. So can we stop hijacking words and completely changing their meanings please?
When BBC3 screened RTE’s documentary about Irish rappers last week the soft face of anti-Irish prejudice quickly surfaced on Twitter:
“You should be Happy They Spitting Bars and Not Blowing up Sh*t#IRA”
“Irish rappers on bbc three!? Give it a rest, f**k off back to the fiddle and flute you potato eating chumps!“
“Irish rappers!!…potato famine has resulted in some damage chromosomes me thinks”
We’re back in the playground again. And now we’re dealing with jokes. Not good ones, but jokes nevertheless.
I have no reason to believe that anyone who typed any of those tweets would tomorrow sift applicants for a vacancy he’s advertised and bin any with an Irish sounding name. I have no reason to believe that anyone would be denied accommodation, medical treatment or equal pay in Britain on the grounds that they are Irish.
Humans are groupish beings. There has to be an ‘other’ in order for social groups to define themselves. The social group is reinforced by making jokes, disparaging remarks etc about the ‘other’. Humanity isn’t perfect by a long way, but by trying to define and legislate its essence out of existence is absurd and delusional.
Similar Tweets about any other nationality could potentially get the person arrested or fired from their job, but when the jokes are aimed at the Irish it is written off as “banter”.
He’s right you know. But it is utterly wrong that people should face criminal justice for voicing their opinion, however obnoxious it may be. This whole seeking and taking of offence is a disease in the psyche. It’s what makes the English-speaking world weak and pathetic, and it’s why we will be completely outdone by the Asian & Oriental world in my life time, We will deserve our decline for getting absorbed in bullshit argument about “he called me fat” and “she called me blah blah blah… “
it’s just horseshit, and while we’re arguing with our finger-ends, the rest of the world is overtaking us and quite rightly so.
Ah but,.. the recession.
The recession has scattered an entire generation of Irish youth across the globe, hopeful and idealistic, but ultimately abandoned by our own government and without any networks for support.
There’s a recession on here too, Brian. The lower orders of unskilled workers and the underclass *always* display increasing hostility to outsiders when jobs are scarce and people are on their arses. Find me a country where that isn’t so.
To attribute the whole storm in a whiskey glass to rising Anti-Irish xenophobia seems to me to be bordering on paranoid. I’ve certainly not read anything from Brian to persuade me otherwise.
And as for the Irish state providing ex-pat assistance by way of extended representation.. well maybe they could afford to if they hadn’t joined the Euro and shacked their economy to the magic money tree. But maybe it’d be a silly idea anyway. Has anyone but the French even done such a thing?
I cannot let him get away with his closing paragraph:
A fractured Irish community with no connection between the old generation and the new arrivals can make an easy target.
New arrivals from anywhere. Not just Ireland. You’re not being singled out. You honestly wouldn’t want to be someone with a Kent accent trying to find work in Manchester right now.
Without a sense of our own history anti-Irish sentiment might seem like something that doesn’t affect you, but if left unchecked it could come marching down your street next.
It doesn’t affect you unless you let it affect you. No one (not withstanding a gaggle of skinheads who everyone else is laughing at) is forcing you to be affected.
Brian’s answer seems to be ‘solidarity’ between established Irish communities and new arrivals. Quite how that will achieve anything but to unnecessarily ghettoise them in a victim lobby, I don’t know.