Sexual Assault

This weekend’s Irish Times has a couple of stories that address sexual assault in Ireland. The most important one, by Conor Lally, presents some statistics:

“The number of sexual crimes reported to gardaí are the highest on record, the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) data shows….

However, security sources say it is impossible to determine whether more sex crimes are being committed or whether victims are more willing to come forward due to the impact of #MeToo and other campaigns.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he noted the pronounced increase in sexual offences and said the Government was committed to prventing [sic] and addressing such crimes.

“I very much welcome that more victims are coming forward to Garda, and I urge victims to continue to do so.”

I have much to praise here, and much to be wary about.

Image result for consent

Stories like this one serve a dual purpose:

(1) They attempt to make survivors–and I wish Charlie Flanagan would have said “survivors” instead of “victims”–comfortable reporting sexual assault to the gardaí. We want survivors to report crimes, but it remains difficult to prosecute and convict rapists. The article does not report the ratio of reported assaults to arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. Ireland, like most countries, has a pathetic history of not punishing men (it’s almost always men) who commit sex crimes.

(2) While the article points out that the increase in reported sexual assaults might not indicate an increase in the actual numbers, it fails to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults remain unreported. The SAVI Report demonstrated much higher levels of sex crimes than are disclosed. So, the article may serve to increase fear of rape, while not giving enough details about the crimes. I mention this because stories about increases in sexual assaults create a penumbra that haunts women as they walk through the world. This penumbra, the fear of rape that is stoked by these stories, acts as social control over women. If you are afraid to leave the house, or afraid to walk alone, or afraid to dress a certain way or go to a certain place, your life is limited by fear. The idea of rape controls the choices that many women make on a daily basis, and so short pieces like this one aren’t helpful.

In addition, to come back around to one of my least-favorite favorite topics, people like Gemma O’Doherty will deploy these statistics against immigrants and ethnic minorities and claim that the uptick in crime is linked with the increase in immigration. These are two trends that are completely unrelated, but many people cannot distinguish between correlation and causation. To put this in perspective, imagine that the number of reported rapes has increased in 2019, as has the number of cat adoptions from shelters. Do more pet cats create more rapists? Obviously an absurd notion, as is the notion that an increase in immigration causes an increase in sexual assault. But stay tuned for an update, because I fully expect Gemma and/or Justin Barrett to make such a claim.

Charlie Flanagan’s statement is at least a public acknowledgment of the sexual-assault epidemic. But we need to teach children–tweens and teens, not five-year-olds, to be clear–about consent, and the right of each partner for mutual enjoyment of sex. What does consent look like? What does enthusiastic consent look like? How can a person say no to sex? How can couples have sex safely? I think the new sex ed program will help, but it will take years to see if consent education leads to a reduction in rapes.

I hope that teaching people that women have a right to sexual pleasure, and that men do are not entitled to access to women’s bodies, society will move in a different direction.

 

ACI & 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Image result for conspiracy theories

I was going to dedicate this post to discussing a recent livestream in which Gemma O’Doherty and Fr. Gerry Young discussed sex education and Islam. But, I’ll save that for another time; possibly for a piece for another website. [Admit it: you’re dying to know what an octogenarian priest thinks about sex ed.]

Here I want to deal with Gemma’s conspiracy-mongering in relation to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The peddling of conspiracies about 9/11 has numerous detrimental impacts, none of which affect Gemma. Most tangibly, these theories are hurtful to the people who lost loved ones, and others–myself included–who were in lower Manhattan on 9/11 (though I was not, myself, in the Twin Towers). Indeed, she benefits from pushing these theories because they make her the hero in her own narrative. Here’s how:

Ever notice the political agenda of the people who spew conspiracy theories? It used to be wacky left-wingers who, back in the 1960s, were skeptical of authority and government in large part because the FBI really was monitoring the activities of groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Dr. King’s group); the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, or “Snick”); the Black Panthers; and even Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Abbie Hoffman famously warned hippies (or his “Yippies”) against trusting anyone over the age of 30. We all grow up, though, and so did the Yippies. Most of them are today regular middle-class liberals. They’ve grown out of their conspiracy-mongering.

Today, conspiracy theories are largely pushed by the AltShite/far right/racist right–because they have lost power recently and they’re trying to reclaim it, often successfully (see also: Trump, Orbán, Erdogan, Duterte). Chief among these nonsense ideas is that minority groups are going to “replace” white people in places including the United States and, in the case of the ideas pushed by Gemma O’Doherty, in Ireland. Such notions are not only preposterous, but come with racist overtones…and sometimes overt racism, as when the Fucktards who marched in Charlottesville declared “Jews will not replace us” or when O’Doherty opposes “multiculturalism” by posting videos of brown people doing bad things, while simultaneously claiming not to be racist. Sure.

AltShite politicians and activists have a lot to gain by selling nonsense to the public. The peddling of these conspiracy theories, and citing right-wing wackos as the “only people” with the “courage” to tell the “truth” about events, discredits the legitimate media; they thereby position themselves as the only “honest” people in a world full of sell-outs to the establishment (which, of course, they hate). Thus, conspiracy theories related to such a monstrous event that towers over the first decades of the 21st century, are nothing more than a political tool. The AltShite use these ideas to compel people to think they cannot trust legitimate sources. Vulnerable people will thereby turn to bullshit sources for their “truth,” and further endanger society by taking up the causes of other conspiracies. Here are a few resources for you to cite when you run into one of her devoted followers.

    • Anti-vaccination movement. Gemma says, for example, that the HPV vaccine actually causes cervical cancer, and she thinks vaccines cause autism. The quack doctor who publicized that bullshit has lost his medical license.
    • The climate-change “hoax.” Climate change is not a hoax; it is not a conspiracy to stir fear and panic. Rather, it is a man-made problem that we should be scared of–at least if we plan to be alive for the next 50 years.
    • Muslim immigrants are coming to your country to “invade” and “take over” and establish Sharia law. Do we really need to debunk this crap? Islam is not incompatible with “Western values.” In fact, I think most Westerners would become better people if they were to observe Ramadan.
    • Sex education will “corrupt” young minds. FALSE. Basically every study ever has shown that lack of information about sex does NOT stop teenagers (or younger) from having sex; it stops them from having sex safely. On top of which, information about types of sex and types of contraception will increase people’s pleasure in sex, especially women’s pleasure. Teenagers should know what enthusiastic consent looks like; they should know that sex isn’t just about a man’s ejaculation, but should be mutually enjoyable for both (or all) partners involved.
    • There have “always been” two sexes and nothing more. Not only does this conspiracy push objectively false information, it also fosters bigotry against trans and non-binary people. The latter is a goal of the far right because such people typically don’t support the right, and also because oppression is a tool by which the right-wing seek to gain and maintain power. [If you want to read about the one-sex model that preceded the two-sex model, read this book by Thomas Laqueur.]
    • 5G service will give everyone cancer. Quoting Gemma O’Doherty: “one in one people” will have cancer. That’s literally everyone. Need I deal with this in any detail? Clearly, 5G service will not give everyone cancer. Not even smoking cigarettes gives everyone cancer, and cigarettes contain dozens of known carcinogens.

I’m focusing on Gemma O’Doherty’s peddling of 9/11 conspiracy theories here because it’s particularly insidious. This is an event about which nearly everyone above the age of, say, 15 is sure of the basic details: on 9/11/2001, terrorists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, hijacked airplanes and flew them into iconic American landmarks including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thousands of people died, and first responders are still suffering from health effects of their work on that day.

These events are burned into our brains by history books and television. I personally have a viv memory of the cover of the Newark Star Ledger (which my parents subscribe to, for some reason) on 9/12/2001. It’s the only time that I can remember a single story taking up the entire front page of the paper: TERROR BEYOND BELIEF.

Image result for newark star ledger 9/12/01

By taking small clips of film and separating individual pieces of evidence from the whole, the AltShite has been able to shape a narrative about 9/11 that vulnerable people can lap up. This is a common tool of people who like to fancy themselves historical “revisionists,” like the so-called Center for Historical Review, which is actually a bullshit antisemitic organization that traffics in Holocaust denial.

If you look at the evidence cited by James Corbett, who seems to be Gemma O’Doherty’s primary source (I use the term loosely), you’ll see these tactics in full bloom. He first aims to discredit Henry Kissinger, who led the 9/11 Commission. I’m no fan of Kissinger, who I believe has committed war crimes in the past, but he’s not a stupid man. They throw shade on why it took George W. Bush over 400 days to appoint a commission in the first place–a detail that has literally nothing to do with the Commission’s findings, but the AltShite wants you to think there was some sort of dubious reason for waiting “so long.”

Corbett also throw shade on the weapons used by the hijackers and the allegedly frail man (bin Laden) who directed the attacks. I’m not sure what bin Laden’s physical health has to do with anything, but there you are. Corbett says that the pilots of these commercial aircraft had military training (for what? to fight off the hijackers? bullshit). He also suggests that the US military should have shot down the planes after finding out that they had been hijacked. Oooh, why didn’t the military shoot down 4 American passenger planes? SUCH A FUCKING SCANDAL. He questions the ability of the hijackers to fly the planes as effectively as they did. What is he getting at with this line of thinking? That the hijackers weren’t who we think they were? If they weren’t, who were they instead? Stupid.

Further, according to Corbett, how did people know who the guilty parties were in such a short span of time? The implication of this question is that either (1) the Bush administration was in on the attacks, or (2) that the government knew about it in advance through intelligence gathering and purposely failed to thwart the attacks. While I think we can admit that there was a failure of the intelligence system here, this conspiracy is absurd. Perhaps, the government just knew that bin Laden had been literally targeting the United States for years.

I could go on, but you get the point. By manipulating information, right-wing conspiracy theorists have used a tragic event to build their own following from under-informed people, for their own ends. Suddenly, you start to doubt the events of 9/11, and if those facts could actually be false, how else might the “establishment” and mainstream media be swindling you? Gemma O’Doherty ran for president of Ireland, and garnered a pitiful number of votes (10,622 according to her own Twitter page). But, her outrageous deployment of conspiracies and Islamophobia has certainly won her more followers who, like Trump’s supporters, believe that she is merely willing to give voice to ideas that other Irish people are too cowardly to say out loud. As I write this, she has about 32,200 followers on Twitter, and based on the responses to her tweets, most of those people think she speaks truth.

Gemma is certainly not the only right-wing politician to deputize conspiracy theories in order to gain a following and push an agenda that opposes the “evils” of abortion; LGBTQ+ rights; immigration; “ideology” of Islam; public-health measures; and secular culture (among other things). Indeed, right-wing activists and politicians around the world rely on this tactic–designed to discredit the media and force people to question the existence of objective truth–in order to gain power.

Don’t let them succeed. Oppose the rise of Anti-Corruption Ireland and the Irish National Party.

Fascism in Ireland

I’m working on an article on right-wing nationalist movements in Ireland, focusing on Anti-Corruption Ireland, the National Party, and Identity Ireland, with a historical background of the Citizenship Referendum of the early 2000s. These parties employ rhetoric and tactics associated with fascism. Political scientists don’t typically agree on all of the ideas that define fascism, but they do agree on a couple: (1) Pro-natalism and anti-abortion policies that oppress women while simultaneously idealizing them as keepers of the “home”; women thus have the responsibility of raising the next generation of X nation; (2) Extreme nationalism that rejects immigrants and other “races” as inferior and as defiling the purity of the nation; this type of nationalism also looks to the nation’s mythic past and wants to restore the nation’s bygone greatness; (3) corporatism that tames capitalism, and attacks powerful/wealthy companies (and labor unions, sometimes).

I posted about my research on Twitter, with a little joke about Justin Barrett and Gemma O’Doherty having an excellent ouija board with which they communicate with Benito Mussolini.

This was an excellent lesson for me in Internet cultures, and how such groups operate. First, a supporter of Gemma O’Doherty asked me a question about alleged fascism in Israel–a response to a tweet that had literally nothing to do with Israel. This person started by saying: “Weinstein. Interesting name, that,” followed by a question about the Israeli government. The implication here was clear: Because my last name is Weinstein, I’m (1) Jewish, and (2) harbor loyalty to Israel. The person seemed to have been attempting to induce me to defend Israel.

First, this tweet was overtly antisemitic. The deployment of my surname in this way is definitive proof of that. Second, this person invoked the antisemitic trope that Jews have dual loyalty to Israel. I pointed out that I’m American and sometimes live in Ireland, but the person–eventually people–involved in this was not moved. Finally, I noted that while I think Israel engages in a variety of human-rights violations, I’m not an expert on Israel/Palestine, and so I don’t feel comfortable commenting further.

Before I blocked the offending morons, I realized a couple of things about how the supporters of far-right nationalism work:

(1) They operate in online gangs in attempts to bully people into backing off of their positions, or, in my case, research.

(2) While I don’t believe all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, in this case, their use of conspiracy theories to attack Israel stank of anti-Jewish ideas.

I have no interest in engaging with gobshites on Twitter, so I just blocked this person. But, he gave me excellent fodder to open my article when I have enough research to write it. A personal anecdote is always a good way in, right?

For reference, here’s my original Tweet:

My original tweet about my research.

And here’s a small selection of the insanity that I received in response:

A sampling of the bullshit response to my simple statement that I’m researching fascist movements in Ireland.

Update:

These boneheads have also suggested that I’m aiding and abetting paedophiles. Seriously:

seriously!

Sectarianism

Image result for july 12th bonfires

As July 12th approaches, Northern Ireland is going through its annual tradition of arguing about sectarianism. Sometimes, people have fought over the question, “Should the Orangemen be allowed to march through Catholic neighborhoods?” An important question to be sure, but this problem has been mostly resolved. Questions of sectarianism have evolved into more subtle manifestations of cross-community sniping. People on both sides of the divide like to claim that their commemorations are cultural, while celebrations by the opposing side are, in contrast, sectarian displays. Can a celebration of the Battle of the Boyne occur in any fashion without being anti-Catholic? As per an argument I saw on Twitter yesterday, can Irish people sing songs that celebrate that Irish Revolution without being anti-Protestant? I believe that the answer to both of these questions, as well as the larger issue is “yes,” but perhaps not in their current manifestations.

An interesting piece appeared in the July 5th edition of the Irish Times titled, “Marching in Donegal: ‘We can be Irish and we can be Orange.'” Unbeknownst to most people, there are a few Orange lodges in the part of Ulster that is within the Republic of Ireland. The lodge at Newtowncunningham, Co. Donegal commemorates the ending of the Siege of Derry and also the 1913 Ulster Volunteers who engaged in military-style training in order to combat Home Rule for Ireland. An Orange Lodge in Éire is indeed an oddity, and in the eyes of many Irish people, a deeply offensive site–so much so that this one was the victim of an arson attack in 2014.

Image result for map of province of ulster

The main figure in the article identifies himself as Irish but also as an “Ulsterman,” and identifies with Northern Ireland as his natural home–yet he does live in the Republic. His self-perception would suggest that his version of commemorating 1690 is not sectarian–and is certainly not anti-Irish. He is pro-Protestant-Irish identity, but not anti-Catholic-Irish identity. His celebration of the Battle of the Boyne shouldn’t be viewed as secular blasphemy.

The question of whether you can be “Irish” and “Orange” ultimately depends on what you believe “Orange” represents.

Some brief historical background: “Orange” derives from William of Orange, the Dutch prince who was married to his first cousin, Mary, the Protestant daughter of King James II. When James II took the throne, he had no male children, and so in general the people of England (not Britain until 1707) worried little, because they didn’t fear a Catholic successor upon the death of James. But to everyone’s surprise, James’s wife gave birth to a son, the future James III, who was to be raised Catholic. Now that was terrifying to the Protestant people of the realm. So, in essence, Parliament invited William and Mary to come over and take the throne from James, which they did in an event known to history as the Glorious Revolution. Supporters of William III and Mary II in Ireland, who celebrated the victory of Protestantism at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, formed the “Orange Order.”

So, Orange-ism can be seen as a celebration of Protestantism and the Plantation of Ulster, in which Irish Catholics were forced off their land in favor of Protestants from England and Scotland, and can thus also be viewed as anti-Catholic or sectarian. From that perspective, it’s difficult to see someone being both Irish and Orange, because July 12th is then a commemoration of forced removal of Irish people from their land.

On the other hand, many historians and Orangemen see the Glorious Revolution and William’s victory at the Boyne River as not only the triumph of Protestantism, but the triumph of democracy over absolutism. This interpretation also has merit. Because Parliament invited William and Mary to take the throne, the legislature acquired symbolic authority over the monarchy; this power was then codified when the king and queen acceded to the Declaration of Right, which limited the power of the monarchy and asserted certain rights for citizens.

The Republic of Ireland in 2019 is a liberal democracy that has no monarch at all, and would certainly endorse the rights of citizens laid out in the Declaration of Right. But, the Glorious Revolution also represents for much of Ireland a period of disenfranchisement, penal laws, and, ultimately, the Great Famine in which wealthy landed Protestants made out okay while Irish Catholics perished by the millions.

How can Orangemen celebrate their culture without simultaneously denigrating Irish culture? The current methods of celebrating, notably the bonfires, are inextricably linked with anti-Catholic hatred in the eyes of many Irish people. Historically, these celebrations have indeed been Protestant triumphalist displays, and so we can understand why many Irish people feel this way. Instead of taking direct shots at the celebrations, though, Sinn Féin has taken to attacking the impact of the bonfires on the environment. True, large fires do pump out a lot of avoidable pollution into the air, but it seems extremely disingenuous of Sinn Féin to use this particular occasion to make this point. Why not scrap the bonfires in exchange for a celebration that has no historical ties to sectarian hatred? Bonfires may be traditional, but they’re not inextricable from the celebration of the Battle of the Boyne. My recommendation: Take the time to read aloud from the Petition of Right, and celebrate the universal good that came with the Glorious Revolution: limited monarchy and rights for individual citizens. 

 

Should the Irish diaspora vote for President of Éire?

Image result for ireland postal vote

The Republic of Ireland is finally going to hold a referendum on the right of members of the Irish diaspora to vote in presidential elections in Éire. Enda Kenny vetted the idea when he was still taoiseach, and it seems that the Oireachtas, now led by Leo Varadkar, is going to let this referendum go forward. According to RTÉ, the government is currently drafting the referendum, which will be put to the Irish people in October 2019. If it passes, people around the world who claim Irish citizenship will have the right to vote in presidential elections beginning in 2025.

I have a lot of questions in advance of the draft legislation:

  1. Will all Irish citizens around the world be allowed to vote absentee? Or, will it be drafted so that all Irish citizens can vote, but they must be in Ireland on election day in order to do so?
  2. Or, will there be limits on the presidential franchise based on residency and/or duration of time living as an ex-pat? Ireland has fairly lenient qualifications for becoming an Irish citizen if you can prove Irish ancestry. If your parents or at least one grandparent was a natural-born Irish citizen, you can become a citizen of Ireland. And, per the preliminary terms of this referendum, all of these people–approximately 70 million around the world–could be allowed to vote.
    1. Of course, this includes all Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland.
  3. Will there be any provision for non-citizens who are legal residents of Ireland to vote in these elections? Ireland revoked birthright citizenship after 2005, so there may be people living in Ireland who are not citizens but who have much more of a link to Ireland than most of the Irish-Americans or Irish-Australians who will be allowed to vote but haven’t spent even 10 days in Ireland in their entire lives.

I have to say, I’m perplexed as to why Fine Gael would put forward this proposal. Fine Gael will most certainly NOT be the beneficiary of this legislation. Indeed, I think that in general much of the Irish diaspora couldn’t tell you what Fine Gael stands for as a political party, or Fianna Fáil for that matter–all joking aside about the majority of Ireland not knowing what these parties stand for, either.

When the Irish diaspora encounters Irish politics, these encounters typically take the form of Irish nationalism as represented by Sinn Féin and, in the past, of the Provos (IRA). Sinn Féin has a fundraising arm in the United States (Friends of Sinn Féin), and benefits grandly from telling stories of British oppression of the Irish, from depicting the Great Famine as a genocide, and reminding Irish Americans that they have a duty to “their” homeland to support Irish unity. I see this manifestation of “Irishness” on certain websites and diaspora message boards, notably IrishCentral.com, founded by famous American-Irish supporter of Sinn Féin, Niall O’Dowd (who was a key player in getting Gerry Adams a visa back in 1994).

So, of course, Sinn Féin is the political party that stands to benefit most from allowing the Irish diaspora to vote in presidential elections. The president of Ireland, currently Michael O’Higgins, is largely a ceremonial position, but has been held in recent years by some quite illustrious figures, notably Mary Robinson, who went on to become the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Despite the president’s notable lack of actual political power, the president is a visible figure with moral authority. And, Sinn Féin would certainly love to see Gerry Adams elected president of Ireland. Allowing the diaspora to vote would most certainly help to bring this about–as much as most of the Republic of Ireland itself would find “President Gerry Adams” to be quite distasteful. There is a sense among many Irish citizens that Sinn Féin can’t be trusted; that, yes, the party does advance some socially liberal positions such as LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights, but that the party does so for spurious reasons. [Incidentally, in a nod to Professor Richard English–he suggested to me almost 15 years ago in a private conversation that he thought that Gerry Adams would be president of Ireland someday. I’m not sure this is what he had in mind, but interesting that he predicted it.]

I would therefore propose that there be limits on precisely which Irish citizens are allowed to vote in presidential elections. Surely, Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland should be allowed to vote, as they have a personal stake in the fate of the island. But what of the children or grandchildren of Irish citizens who listen to “Danny Boy” and “The Fields of Athenry” but have never so much as been to Ireland? These are people with no real connection to the fate of the island.

Many countries including the United Kingdom have limits on the rights of ex-patriots to vote in elections. In the UK, an ex-pat can vote for up to 15 years after leaving, so long as that person was registered to vote when s/he lived in the UK. Such limits seem to me to be quite reasonable, as per the “connection to the fate of the country” idea that I discussed above. I hope that Éire will include such limitations, so as not to permit everyone claiming Irish citizenship to participate in a presidential election and sway the outcome in favor of a result that the vast majority of people actually living on the island would strongly dislike.

 

 

 

Gerry Adams: It is Ireland’s “duty” to plan for unity

Image result for ireland map

On his personal blog, Gerry Adams has asserted that there should not be a border poll in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland until there is a cogent plan for what a united Ireland would actually mean in practice. In his view, we all learned a lesson from Brexit: “A referendum without a plan is stupid.” Maybe there should be a border poll in the near future, but Adams doesn’t make a terribly convincing case in his blog post.

Certainly, the debacle in the aftermath of the Brexit vote has shown Adams to be correct that there should be a clearly defined plan in place in the event of a vote for Irish unity. He also said that it is the “duty” of the government of the Republic of Ireland to plan for that poll and the potential result of a vote in favor of Irish unity. To support his optimistic claim that Ireland is on the verge of voting for unity and an exit from the UK, Adams cited data fro the 2011 Northern Ireland census. Specifically, he notes that only 48% of respondents in Northern Ireland self-identified as British; a professor who examined the results noted that there is a “measurable trend” towards a Catholic majority in Northern Ireland. Adams seems quite optimistic that those two ideas combined translate into a majority in favor of Irish unity.

I’m not so sure. A look at the summary report from the 2011 census (found here) shows that only 25.26% of the population self-identified as “Irish only” and 20.94% of the population identified as “Northern Irish only.” That’s about 68% of the population that does not self-identify as Irish. There are other statistics with smaller numbers for people who self-identify as more than one of these three groups. But I think the statistic for “Irish only” is important: only ¼ of the population of Northern Ireland believes itself to be exclusively Irish. An additional 2.74% of people include “Irish” in their self-identity, along with another category.

From these statistics, it’s impossible to determine how people will vote in a border poll. Adams is certainly too optimistic in his blog post. That doesn’t mean a border poll shouldn’t happen though–certainly it should happen in the next few years; indeed, wouldn’t it make sense to hold a poll on a periodic basis, with other elections? 

But what of the notion that Éire is duty-bound to plan for unity? What does such a plan entail?

Safe guards for Unionists are essential, but I foresee the fear of persecution being greatly exaggerated. Adams notes, too, that dialogue must exist to make Unionists feel as though they will be safe and their rights will be protected in a united Ireland. Éire is an increasingly diverse country, and I see no reason why northern Unionists/Protestants would be persecuted–indeed, if anyone has anything to fear, it’s non-Irish immigrants to the island, based on deep-seeded prejudices that are not unique to Ireland. Éire is a liberal democracy that is not dominated by the Catholic hierarchy, and I have every reason to believe that Unionists will be welcomed.

The exchequer also requires great planning. Currently, the North receives a millions of pounds per year from the UK purse, and it could lose that money upon Irish unity. In theory, it would lose that money. Might there be a plan to slowly ween the North off of British money? Also: what of the civil servants in the North who will probably lose their jobs when a single government takes over? 

Adams doesn’t seem to have considered money in his call on the government of the Republic of Ireland to prepare for Irish unity with a detailed plan. He’s right that a plan is necessary, but I think perhaps many people in Éire would object to putting money toward that when there is a housing crisis; rural populations lack access to the Internet; and a massive percentage of people want the government to take meaningful action to help stem the tide of climate change. Plus, by most accounts the British NHS is far superior to healthcare available in the South, and I don’t imagine northerners want to give that up–so surely the South will have to pour a lot of money into improving health services. That’s a lot of work already, and all of that costs money. Will the people of the Republic want to allocate valuable resources toward planning for Irish unity? Maybe, but I definitely don’t think I’d bet my house on it. (And on this subject, the statistics Adams gives for the percentage of people in the South who favor Irish unity is somewhat absurd in its interpretation, even if the raw numbers are accurate.)

So now to address the optimism Adams expressed about the triumph of Irish unity in the event of a border poll. If we can return to the comparison with Brexit for a moment: we are left with the question, “If there had been a plan for Brexit-ing and post-Brexit UK, would the people still have voted to leave the European Union?” Maybe the plan would have resulted in a greater number of people supporting Brexit, as they could have been reassured of their economic security in advance of the vote. But, on the other hand, maybe tangible details would have scared people in the UK and eliminated much of the vote for Brexit that was essentially “protest” vote. We have no way to know, but I think this possibility is possible for an Irish-unity vote, too. Plans for unity may be comforting and reassuring, or they might scare people. So again, I think people who foresee Irish unity on the immediate horizon (that is, within a couple of years) are overly optimistic–particularly if Brexit never pans out at all (October is the next deadline).

On this note: will Sinn Féin support membership in the EU in the event of Irish unity? Sinn Féin is historically opposed to the European Union, because, as per the party name that translates to “ourselves,” they want the island of Ireland for the people of Ireland, and therefore oppose intervention from Brussels. I think Sinn Féin needs to do a bit of soul-searching itself as they push for a border poll and plans for unity–and let the Irish people know exactly what their vision is, as the most vocal advocates for reunited the island.

Trump in Ireland

In an apparent abdication of her connection with reason, Queen Elizabeth II invited Donald Trump for a state visit to the UK, which is supposed to happen starting Monday. Leave it to the Orange Sphincter (thanks, Bill Maher) to manage to arse this up just days before arriving, by calling Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, “nasty,” when he was informed of remarks she made a few years ago that expressed distaste for the then-candidate Trump. Most of the rest of humanity will now consider that the Duchess has fine character and good judgement. I already thought so, as she is a Northwestern alumna.

In response, the Queen should certainly cancel the state visit and chastise the president for his utter lack of decency.

In addition, Leo Varadkar should refuse to meet Trump when he is in Ireland visiting one of his own golf courses. This rejection has nothing to do with what Trump said about the Duchess. Instead, there are other issues here:

  1. If Trump had been president in 1847, he would have reviled the Famine immigrants and tried to keep the starving people from a “shithole country” out of the United States.
  2. By publicly visiting one of his own golf courses in Ireland, he is bringing it publicity from which he stands to profit, and is thus violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
    1. (By the way, that’s an impeachable offense. Speaker Pelosi: Take note.)
  3. The people of Ireland think Trump is an ignoramus, who undoubtedly has no idea that the Irish prime minister is called Taoiseach, and definitely cannot pronounce the word at any rate. Guaranteed he doesn’t know that Ireland is a dual-language country, and will make some idiotic remark about the signage in the country. (Okay, the second part would be funny and just confirm that he’s a moron.)

Irish Language Act

Sinn Féin has been pushing for an Irish language act in Northern Ireland, to give legal parity to the island’s native tongue. There is a small protest at Stormont this morning:

But given SF’s recent losses, one might infer that the party’s intransigence in regards to restoring powersharing because of the Irish-language act (or lack thereof) is being perceived as a political ploy to avoid restoring the Assembly. Without the Assembly, the state of Northern Ireland will continue to deteriorate, and they will then be able to use that to push for Irish unity–I believe this is also why they are so tied to marriage equality and abortion rights. All of these reforms-language, same-sex marriage, and choice-would be great, but people do care about motivations, and Sinn Féin isn’t being transparent.