Category: Abortion

Oughterard

[I ripped this audio file from a tweet by one of Ireland’s alt-right anti-immigrant underbelly accounts. I don’t feel obliged to give credit here. Fair usage etc. You can find it yourself.]

Ireland’s increasingly organised hard-right moron brigade have been wetting themselves silly since a meeting in Oughterard went viral yesterday, where one of my local members of parliament went along and opened his racist mouth.

The biggest irony is that the people who whipped up hysteria in Oughterard were themselves, in the Irish parlance, “blow-ins”.

Wednesday’s meeting was organised by known operatives — reactionary alt-right provocateurs — who have been doing this type of thing around the country. They are following a playbook used by fascists in Hungary, Russia, Italy, Turkey, even in the United States, where political speech is taken out of the mainstream and targetted at left-behind, largely non-metropolitan, communities. Fears are stoked, genies are released from bottles, and scapegoats are targetted.

Eamonn VIDF has posted an important thread outlining their activities. Please read it all:

The people of Oughterard have been played. The politician who made the racist speech has been played. He’s a patsy. A pawn. A gullible mouthpiece playing his part. And he sits in our parliament.

Ireland. We have a problem.

oughterard

* * *

Of course, that doesn’t mean that what this guy said should be ignored. His speech was replete with tropes and cliches, and is worth a takedown. We can all do with a playbook.

So here are the bones:

“Our Taoiseach [Prime Minister] three weeks ago said he’d take an extra two hundred, er, what they call ‘migrants’ from Africa…”

The people concerned are, in fact, asylum seekers, not migrants.

Wednesday’s meeting had been called because of an apparent government plan to refurbish a disused hotel in the village of Oughterard in order to provide asylum seeker accommodation. Calling asylum seekers “economic migrants” is, of course, an error of the deliberate kind.

The particular asylum seekers mentioned by the Taoiseach were a group of men, women and children rescued from the Mediterranean in August by the charities Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée, including babies as young as one year old.

“These are economic migrants.”

No. To repeat, they are quite clearly asylum seekers, not migrants.

“These are people who are coming over here from Africa to, er, to sponge off the system here in Ireland.”

No. Again. According to MSF, these people were fleeing the war in Libya, where they faced ill treatment, arbitrary detention, and torture. When rescued after getting into difficulties in the Mediterranean, they were suffering from severe dehydration and malnutrition. They don’t want to sponge off any system. They just want to be alive.

“I know people who I’ve brought all over the county of Galway trying to get housing for. They’re [waiting] seven, eight, nine, ten years…”

Ireland’s housing shortage has emerged largely because of prolonged economic policies that have failed to provide livable infrastructures and appropriate social safety nets during the past two decades.

Not least this was because of the inflationary policies pursued by this politician’s very own party during the pre-crash splurge years of the Celtic Tiger, a party whose policies he would surely be personally familiar with, given that he served as its Chairman and, for eight months, its Leader.

Apart from one parliamentary term, his own party was in Government from 1989 to 2011. Does he really think that if our nation’s roads, schools, health services and housing stock are all so poorly resourced, it’s because of asylum seekers?

“…Let the Minister know the fear — and it is the fear factor — that this is going to bring on this village. Because we don’t know. We don’t know these people that’s coming in.”

We do. We know that they are a small group of asylum seekers fleeing war and torture in Libya, most of whom are under the age of 18, some of whom are babies, who — while malnourished and dehydrated — were rescued from certain death at sea by a globally respected NGO. That’s “these people that’s coming in.”

“I can guarantee you. It’s not the persecuted Christians and Syrians coming here.”

Religion. Seriously?

At this point we can note that this politician campaigned (unsuccessfully) against the repeal of Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws last year, positioning himself firmly at the fringes of the country’s social policy culture. He was even one of a rump of Catholic fundamentalist parliamentarians who tried to block the referendum from being held in the first place, implying that he favours democracy except when it seems the majority might vote against him.

(Amusingly, the party he once chaired was called the “Progressive “Democrats“!)

As with many pro-life politicians, it seems this guy is all about protecting life when it is in the womb, but less interested when said life is running around rural Irish villages praying to the wrong god.

“It’s the people, the economic, er, refugees that’s coming in from Africa that’s trying to get across the Mediterranean and ended up in EU, and ended up in Ireland, and ended up in Oughterard, where you don’t have the schools, you don’t have the doctors.”

But if they were Christians fleeing from ISIS, the schools and doctors would then somehow be able to cope?

I’m beginning to think that the guy might not be making any sense.

“A big city, a major city can absorb three hundred refugees, but not a small town like Oughterard. So I’ll say one thing to everybody in this room here tonight: work together, stick together, and we will work with ye, and I want the politicians here to give that same commitment here tonight…”

But, er, he’s a politician.

“…that we will work to ensure that this does not happen, and it’d destroy the fabric of Oughterard.”

TL;DR: Keep the Africans out, at least the non-Christian ones. Because fear. And votes. Don’t forget to vote for me. Don’t you know there’s an election next year?

It is worth bearing in mind that already in Ireland, a number of hotels earmarked as asylum centres have been subject to middle-of-the-night arson attacks.

irishtimesleitrim

Irish Times, Feb 2019

* * *

The irony here should not be lost on the residents of Oughterard.

It is not asylum seekers who have come from outside, imposed themselves on their quiet village, caused disruption, intimidated the locals, and left people scared of their surroundings.

It is the alt-right agitators who have done so, the Facebook fascists, Ireland’s unapologetically racist keyboard warriors, the people for whom Nazi salutes are an appropriate insult to liberal snowflakes.

This is not an organic resistance to progressive values and a fair and equitable society. It is an organised one.

And it requires an organised response.

* * *

>>Read next: What the alt-right are privately saying about their “important work” in Oughterard

It’s ‘bogus argument’ time again, as Ireland’s right-wingers gear up for divorce referendum

A letter in today’s Irish Times:

And — oh look! — basically the very same letter in today’s Irish Independent:

This chap really does make heavy use of his letter-writing kit. It’s almost as though he is on some sort of campaign.

Here are some line-by-line hot takes:

“… we will be asked to facilitate more liberal divorce laws. We will also be asked to pave the way for the recognition of foreign divorces.”

Darn those foreigners! We don’t want their foreignness here!

We already have in our country too many victims of shattered households.

That may be, but it has nothing to do with divorce. Ireland’s divorce rate — 0.6% — is amongst the lowest in the world. It turns out that households shatter all by themselves, and that divorce laws have nothing to do with it.

Divorce is the end result of family break-up, not its cause. (I’m getting some serious “Hello Divorce, Bye Bye Daddy” flashbacks as I type this.)

“Those of us who are involved with homeless services, youth support or societies like St Vincent de Paul, are all too aware of the heartache and confusion caused by divorce and the fragmentation of families”

Caused by divorce” you say? This seems unlikely. In Ireland, divorce is only available after four years of separation. People who become homeless due to relationship breakdown become homeless straight away.

It is absolutely true that relationship breakdown is a risk factor for homelessness. For example, children of separated parents are more likely to become homeless, especially in socioeconomically disadvantaged families.

But this is entirely different from the claim that divorce causes homelessness. If anything, having a legal divorce helps to make homelessness less likely, given the way courts mandate the provision of alimony and other financial security for family members.

It is the chaotic nature of non-divorce breakups — where no law or court determines what financial arrangements are made — that places families at financial risk.

You could say that this is one of the main reasons for divorce laws: to protect families from the chaos of unstructured and unregulated family breakdown.

“Every marriage worthy of the name has to try to withstand the storms of life; it is more than just a fair weather relationship.”

I repeat the point — Ireland has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. I think we get the fact that marriages are not fair weather relationships.

“My family and I will be voting No”

Ah, his family and he. Such a family guy. All about the family.

Remember the 90s? I sure as hell do….
(Pic: Newstalk.com)

Basically, his line — that liberalizing divorce laws will lead to an increase in family break-up — is a retread of what was run back in Ireland’s previous divorce referendum, in 1995.

I have written about that particular campaign, and the timelessness of its reactionary subtext, before.

But the argument holds no water. The ‘evidence’ presented — namely, that homelessness and family break-up exists — does not support the hypothesis — i.e., that reducing the mandatory waiting time for divorce will make homelessness worse.

Pic: Flickr/Free Stater

Meanwhile…it turns out our letter writer has been writing letters before.

Just last October, when writing to the Sligo Champion, he complained that the provision of abortion services would turn his local hospital into an “abattoir for infants.” In January, he popped up in the Irish Catholic to recommend that “spiritual counselling” be offered as treatment for women who suffer from “post-abortion trauma” (a mental health condition that, inconveniently for him, does not exist).

In past times, he was using the terms “foetus” and “child” interchangeably when discussing different types of abortion. Later he claimed that the “people of this area” — i.e. Sligo-Leitrim — “want the right to life of the unborn child to be protected” (the actual referendum result showed that 60% of them begged to differ).

Elsewhere he busied himself defending the Catholic Church from the Irish Times‘s terrible accusation that bishops had a habit of ‘dictating’ to the state. And he has popped up in the Irish Catholic on several occasions, at one point to offer a “big thank you to all our hard-working Catholic priests.”

I don’t know about you, but I think he might be a religious conservative.

And there it is. The folks to object to the mere existence of divorce, never mind the reduction of the mandatory waiting time, are all religious conservatives. That’s their beef. They don’t want divorce because, well, because Jesus.

You know, I’d nearly respect them more if they just said so, instead of trying to mount bogus arguments about X causing Y — as though they give a damn about using empirical evidence to resolve ethical questions.

Or about homelessness, for that matter.

If this is what the collapse of centrism looks like, then PLEASE give me more centrism

All the “worst people in Ireland” are running for election at the same time. We’re talking your racists, we’re talking your sexists, we’re talking your anti-vaxxers, your anti-fluoriders, your anti-Semites. The anti-5G brigade are in there. The anti-feminists too. And the anti-LGBT folks.

Not all of them are so negative. Some of them are actually pro stuff. For example, we have pro-lifers. We have pro-gun people. We even have pro-Illuminati Conspiracy theorists.

Pro or anti, there is something for everybody.

Conall McCallig has made a list (check out his original blog post for hyperlinks):

[Edit: The list has since been updated to include Allan Brennan (Independent) – Anti-5G, Anti-Vaxxer, Diarmaid Mulcahy (Independent) – Anti-Vaxxer, Anti-Fluoride, and James Miller (Independent) – Anti-5G, Anti-Vaxxer, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Muslim]

Is it just me, or are there rather a lot of names on that list?

In Ireland, 59 candidates are running in this year’s European Parliament elections. The above list accounts for a quarter of the field. But as Conall himself points out, there were other candidates about which he could source no information. These off-grid people could be even more fringe than the horribles he did manage to track down. In other words, we could be talking about close to a third of the slate holding extremist, esoteric, or, shall we say, eccentric views on social issues.

In the Irish part of the Euro elections, thirteen seats are up for grabs (two of which may be re-allocated back to Britain if the UK eventually decides not to leave the European Union). In other words, there are more kooky candidates than there are seats to be filled.

It seems to me that some of these folks are more sinister than others. If anything, the anti-Illuminati, anti-5G, or anti-GMO candidates are very much the lesser of evils. In fact their worst influence might not be to actually get elected. Rather, their damage would be to facilitate the seriously shady ones — the real bigots — to hide behind the crazy bush.

In other words, there’s a danger that the wackos who think that 5G internet is a deep-state conspiracy to line the pockets of Big Telecom while causing cellphone brain cancer in the masses will make the de facto racists come across as serious politicians.

But they’re not. The racists are…well…they are racists. And there are several of them. And this is precisely their opportunity to capitalize on a global trend of chaos to push xenophobic agendas through to the middle-class mainstreams of the Western world, including in our own little backwater here in grand old Ireland.

I mean, they are already setting fire to asylum centres.

This is far from a comedy election.

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