Tag Archives: Sinn Féin agus an Ghaeilge

The Accidental Racist

A few weeks back, there was a big to-do over a letter by Mike McCormack, National Historian of the AOH (hopefully ex-Historian of the AOH by now, if that organisation has any respect for its good name at all!) in the magazine History Ireland. McCormack made a gratuitous, childish and entirely unwarranted attack on Liam Hogan, the Limerick historian who has done such excellent work in challenging the racist Irish Slavery Meme.

Bizarrely, McCormack characterised some of Hogan’s work as ‘Paddy-bashing’. Why? Well, Liam Hogan has been criticising the spread of the Irish Slavery meme among Irish Americans, and the way that racists and people who are ignorant of their own heritage have used this fake revisionist version of history to belittle the terrible injustices suffered by the African American community by saying that the Irish were slaves too and that they suffered worse than African Americans but they aren’t ‘bitching and moaning’. That this kind of racist nonsense has been spread far and wide, shared by hundreds of thousands of people of Irish descent, is undeniable. Go on line looking for Irish Slaves on social media and you will find plenty of hateful, nasty comments directed at groups like Black Lives Matter. Mike McCormack, in his absurd letter, claimed that Hogan is distorting the truth and exaggerating this racist presence on the internet in order to depict Irish Americans as racists. Apparently, because Mike McCormack doesn’t know any racists in the Irish American community, there aren’t any, and people like Hogan are being racist against Irish Americans by pointing out the spread of this racist poison in that community.

Liam Hogan isn’t a racist. Neither is Mike McCormack, judging by some of the articles he has written. The problem is that McCormack is refusing to look at the implications of the Irish Slavery meme honestly. There were no Irish slaves. There were Irish indentured servants, some of whom were involuntary (prisoners of war or effectively poor people kidnapped from Ireland). Their servitude was time-limited (even the prisoners, who were characteristically given servitude contracts of ten years). It was totally different from the slavery that African Americans were subjected to.

The problem with revisionist theories like the Irish Slavery Meme is that there are many people who don’t share the racist views of many of the people who spread them. They aren’t racists but the ideas they are spreading are clearly giving support to those who do hold racist views. To give just one example, one of the most popular Irish Slavery books is Rhetta Akamatsu’s book The Irish Slaves: Slavery, Indentured Servitude, and Contract Labor Among Irish Immigrants. Rhetta Akamatsu is presumably not a white supremacist, as her husband is of Japanese descent. But her book is badly researched and full of mistakes (for example, the Amazon Irish slaves of 1612, who didn’t exist), which is unsurprising in that she is not a proper historian but a writer specialising in books about the paranormal. One revealing article says that she often sits down to watch her favourite programmes, including Ancient Aliens! I’ll say nothing …

There are lots of these accidental racists. Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin ended up in hot water in 2016 with a badly-considered tweet about how three hundred thousand Irish were sold as slaves. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of Sinn Féin is part of a media consortium which owns IrishCentral, which carried an appalling article peddling nonsense originating in the claims of a Holocaust-denier called Hoffmann. (I notice that the article is now no longer available on IrishCentral. Perhaps if they’re removing lies from that site, they could ditch the rubbish by Brendan Patrick Keane as well!) Neither Adams nor Ó Muilleoir are racists, and the policies of their party are clearly and unambiguously opposed to all forms of racism. The fact that they have found themselves on the wrong side in these debates is down to stupidity, not malice.

And it’s very interesting that, though Barry Fell was not a racist, the ideas that he spread about Europeans coming to the New World fit in well with a whole tradition about the spread of civilisation from the drowned continent of Atlantis, ideas which suggest that civilisation came from white people and wasn’t developed independently by Amerindians. (Norman Totten, a friend of Barry Fell’s, set up a straw man in his posthumous defence of Fell, which you can read here: http://www.equinox-project.com/esop81.htm In reality, none of the three comments quoted accuses Fell of being racist – they state, quite rightly, that Fell’s theories can have racist implications.)

It’s also interesting to note that while I’m sure Fell wasn’t a Maori-hater, he spent a long time in New Zealand and his ideas about white settlers in ancient times in the Pacific fits in with the ideas of 19th century writers like Tregear, whose beliefs were nonsense but were pro-Maori (author of The Aryan Maori: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Tregear). Fell’s ideas and Tregear’s theories have given rise to a looney-tune far-right movement in New Zealand which has completely reversed Tregear’s respect for the Maori and claims that Celts went to Aotearoa in ancient times and that the Maori are therefore just blow-ins who have no prior claim to the land. This is probably the closest correspondence you could find to the use of the White Slavery Meme as a means of attacking African Americans.

In other words, you don’t have to be a racist to be an accessory to racist ideas. You should always check the accuracy of the ideas you are claiming. I don’t really care if Mike McCormack is a racist or not. But he should be as worried as I am about the spread of racist memes about Irish history. He should be doing everything in his power to stop such ideas in their tracks but because of his ignorance and lack of historical knowledge, he has helped to propagate the most vile pieces of nonsense and propaganda about the forced breeding of young Irish girls with ‘Mandingo warriors’, not because he is a white supremacist who hates black people, but because his sense of ancestral victimhood is more important to him than the truth.

Tuilleadh ar Mháirtín Ó Muilleoir/More on Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Dátheangach/Bilingual)

Bhí toghchán againn sna Sé Chontae Déardaoin. Níor tháinig deireadh na dtorthaí amach go dtí maidin inniu agus bhí áthas an domhain orm nuair a chuala mé iad. Bhí Arlene Foster, ceannaire an DUP, i ndiaidh olc a chur ar gach aon duine sa phobal náisiúnach anseo lena dímheas ar an teanga agus leis an dóigh ar mhaslaigh sí daoine a bhí ag iarraidh ar an DUP Acht na Gaeilge a thabhairt isteach. Ní bheadh ann ach “géilleadh chun síthe” (appeasement), dar léi. Má thugann tú a bhfuil uaidh don chrogall, beidh sé ar ais arís le tuilleadh a iarraidh gan mhoill. Chuir na vótóirí pionós uirthi as a biogóideacht arú inné!

Ar ndóigh, nuair a vótáil an chuid ba mhó de na daoine san oileán seo ar son Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta beagnach scór bliain ó shin, bhí Acht na Gaeilge mar chuid den chomhaontú. Vótáil daoine ar son an Chomhaontaithe ar fad, ní ar son na ngiotaí sin de a chuirfeadh gáire ar bhéal Arlene Foster. Is cuma cá mhéad a bheadh air (agus creid uaim é, níor mhaith liom féin airgead á chur amú ar rudaí gan tábhacht – ba mhaith liom príomhchosaintí na teanga a choinneáil, rudaí ar nós cláir theilifíse agus raidió, áiseanna leabharlainne, an ceart freagraí a fháil i nGaeilge ar litreacha a chuirtear chuig eagraíochtaí an stáit i nGaeilge). Agus i gcead don Bhean ‘Uasal’ Foster, ba mhaith liom cearta a bheith ag lucht labhartha na Polainnise fosta, ach níl an Pholainnis i gcontúirt agus níl stair na mílte bliain ag an Pholainnis sa tír seo.

Toghadh Máirtín Ó Muilleoir i ndeisceart Bhéal Feirste agus tá mé thar a bheith sásta. Cuireann sin teachtaireacht láidir chuig Arlene Foster agus a cairde biogóideacha. Agus sin ráite, tá mise in éadan Arlene Foster mar gheall ar an easpa measa atá léirithe aici ar an Ghaeilge (agus ar chúiseanna eile fosta, ar ndóigh.) Mar atá ráite agam roimhe ar an bhlag seo, thug Máirtín Ó Muilleoir tacaíocht do Daniel Cassidy, duine a raibh dímheas de chineál eile aige ar an teanga agus ar an chultúr s’againne. Is ionann bréaga Cassidy agus ‘aghaidh dhubh’ i gcúrsaí siamsaíochta, leithghabháil chultúrtha gan náire. Ba chóir dó a rá go soiléir neamhbhalbh nach raibh an ceart ag Cassidy agus nach raibh ann ach caimiléir, in áit bheith ag sodar i ndiaidh uaisle Mheiriceá agus ag tacú le teoiricí bómánta Cassidy le Michael Patrick MacDonald, Peter Quinn agus an chuid eile de chlub móidíní Cassidy a shásamh.

Tá rogha shimplí romhat, a Mháirtín. Más breá leat an teanga, bí á cosaint. Mar a dúirt duine críonna éigin, gura thusa an t-athrú ba mhaith leat a fheiceáil ar an domhan! Mura dtig leat bheith gaibhte sin a dhéanamh, beidh a fhios againn nach bhfuil sa ghrá sin atá agat don teanga, dar leat féin, ach béalghrá le vótaí a fháil.

 

 

We had an election in the Six Counties on Thursday. The last of the results only came out this morning and I was delighted when I heard them. Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, had offended everyone in the nationalist community with her contempt for the Irish language and with the way she insulted people who were demanding that an Irish Language Act be brought in. It would only be appeasement, she said. If you give a crocodile what it wants, it will be back looking for more in no time. The voters punished her for her bigotry the day before yesterday!

Of course, when most of the population of this island voted for the Good Friday Agreement nearly twenty years ago, the Irish Language Act was part of the agreement. People voted for the whole Agreement, not for those bits of it which would put a smile on Arlene Foster’s face. It doesn’t matter how much it would cost (and believe me, I don’t want money to be wasted on trivial things – I want the principal defences of the language to be maintained, things like television and radio programmes, library resources, the Irish medium schools etc.) And with respect to Mrs Foster, I want Polish speakers to have their rights too, but Polish is not endangered yet and Polish does not have thousands of years of history in this country.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was elected in South Belfast and I am very pleased about that. It sends a strong message to Arlene Foster and her bigoted friends. Having said that, I am against Arlene Foster because of her lack of respect for our language (and for other reasons, of course). As I have said before on this blog, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir supported Daniel Cassidy, a man who showed another kind of disrespect for our language and our culture. Cassidy’s lies are the equivalent of ‘blackface’ in the world of entertainment, a shameless piece of cultural appropriation. Ó Muilleoir should say clearly and unambiguously that Cassidy was wrong and that he was nothing but a charlatan, instead of chasing after a bunch of American big wigs and supporting Cassidy’s moronic theories in order to suck up to Michael Patrick MacDonald, Peter Quinn and the rest of Cassidy’s fan club.

You have a simple choice, Máirtín. If you love the language, defend it! As some wise person said, be the change you want to see in the world! If you can’t be arsed to do that, we will know that that love you claim to have for the language is nothing but lip service to garner votes.