End of tea and sympathy at the Aras?

Mary McAleese has gotten herself into a lot of hot water over her remarks on Morning Ireland yesterday, in which she compared Nazi in doctrination against Jews to Protestant attitudes to Catholics in Nothern Ireland. The remarks have caused a furore amongst Ulster Protestants. Ian Paisley Junior remarked: “So much for bridge-building Mary”.

  • JD

    Because of the exaggerated nature of the claims made and a reluctance to give anyone a chance to claim that there was any justification for terrorism.

    Therein lies my problem with this “debate.”

    Unionists can’t be seen to offer any “justification,” so they won’t express any shame for the treatment of Catholics? Can anyone see what’s wrong with that approach?

    You’d do better to call it what it was: an absolute shame and disgrace.

    To not do so not only removes historical responsibility and accountability, but also invisibilises the conditions and causes of the Troubles.

  • Davros

    Unionists can’t be seen to offer any “justification,” so they won’t express any shame for the treatment of Catholics?

    JD- you’ll see on this site that most “unionist” posters do condemn previous mistreatment of RCs, something I have yet to see from most of our “nationalist” contributors about discrimination against Protestants.
    There’s an element of the ” have you stopped beating your wife” about this topic. I cannot/won’t express regret or shame about the grossly exaggerated claims made such as that there was “apartheid”.

  • JD

    you’ll see on this site that most “unionist” posters do condemn previous mistreatment of RCs, something I have yet to see from most of our “nationalist” contributors about discrimination against Protestants.

    On the first point, that’s not my experience of this site. Some “unionist” posters do “condemn.” Not “most.” I’ve also seen a lot of “fudge.” Is “condemn” the same as feeling “shame”?

    On the second point, fair enough. But I notice that once again there is a suggestion of parity in being discriminated against.

    I cannot/won’t express regret or shame about the grossly exaggerated claims made such as that there was “apartheid”.

    No one said unionist-run NI was an apartheid regime. One person drew a parallel on the basis of discriminatory practices.

    Is there a name for the widespread and systematic discrimination against a minority which never was written down as such but whose very real effects were still felt?

  • willowfield

    Why should I feel shame for something that I didn’t do and something that I oppose?

  • JD

    Why should I feel shame for something that I didn’t do and something that I oppose?

    It’s already amply clear that you accept no responsibility.

    That’s too bad.

  • Davros

    JD- do you accept responsibility for the massacres of 1641 ? Same principle.

  • Mario

    I took great pains to point out that NI was not South Africa and that the Falls Roads was not Soweto, but some still seem to be wanting to accuse somebody of “spending too much time on some obscure sites”. No one is suggesting that the sufering of Roman Catholics in the North comes even close to the suffering of black south Africans.

    The funny thing about all this is, that when I pointed out the role of Polish Roman Catholics in the Holocaust they wer quick to agree and provide more evidence of Roman Catholic wrong doing not only in Poland, but in Croatia as well. I went as far as point out the Vatican’s role in helping war criminals escape to my country Argentina.

    But when I said that a policy ( though not griten) of discrimination existed, I was attacked imediately, and the denials kept comino. It would seem that some take it too personal as if somebody is accusing them of the discriminatory practices of the past.

    A society which refuses to accept the wrongs done to others in the past will continue to be divided.

    It is no surprise then that the majority of the population chooses two parties in the extreme who use two different versions of history to obtain political capital. If educated people view it this way than what about the popular massess and the workers and the every day people, do they live in a society with two totally different concepts of history?

  • JD

    JD- do you accept responsibility for the massacres of 1641 ? Same principle.

    “Principle”: a hollow yet convenient derailment of the question and issue. “Principle” covers up the fact that there are people alive now who argued for and kept the discrimination going.

    However, your attempt to equate 1969 with 1641 on the basis of “principle” is instructive. If your point is that “it’s all in the past,” and if 1969 is now somehow as lost in the mists of time as 1641, what is going on when people celebrate, for example, 1690? Re-enactment of the past makes it a present concern. The past is never simply past.

    I should also mention that at school, I was often made to feel shame for certain acts carried out in the name of Republicanism.

  • Davros

    Nice evasion JD. WF opposes what happened in 1969 and took no part in it. I assume you oppose the massacres in 1641 and obviously took no part.
    Yet you are demanding that WF take’s responsibility for events of the past ?

    The only people “re-enacting” Bombay street are on your side of TDF.God help anybody on our side of the fence who wishes to mention anything that reflects badly on republicans … then we hit “in the past, time to move on ” overdrive. La mon ? Wails of anguish. The abduction and murder of Jean McConville ? Wails of anguish. The abduction from school and murder by the IRA of a boy with learning difficulties? Wails of anguish. Hands wrung until they bleed. Of course we can discuss Holy Cross – but not the abduction and murder by the IRA from a school, or the shooting by the IRA of Liam Staunton outside a school on the Falls Road in 1972. Hell, some of you have the affrontery to say they weren’t even crimes.

  • JD

    When I wrote:

    I should also mention that at school, I was often made to feel shame for certain acts carried out in the name of Republicanism.

    I meant it. No evasion. I felt shame for things I had no hand in. WF is either unable or doesn’t want to. And that’s too bad.

  • Davros

    JD- you specifically criticised him for refusing to accept responsibility. Hence my question.

    “It’s already amply clear that you accept no responsibility.

    That’s too bad.

    Posted by: JD [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2005 07:18 PM “

  • willowfield

    JD

    It’s already amply clear that you accept no responsibility. That’s too bad.

    What exactly do you want me to accept responsibility for?

    I should also mention that at school, I was often made to feel shame for certain acts carried out in the name of Republicanism.

    If you were a supporter of those republican acts, or the organisations responsible for them, then that was fair enough. If not, then that was unfair.

    Mario

    No one is suggesting that the sufering of Roman Catholics in the North comes even close to the suffering of black south Africans.

    Then why did you say: “… and Catholics in Northern Ireland did live in a state of Apartheid for many years”?

    But when I said that a policy ( though not griten) of discrimination existed, I was attacked imediately, and the denials kept comino. It would seem that some take it too personal as if somebody is accusing them of the discriminatory practices of the past.

    As IJP pointed out, it is not at all clear that there was a “policy” of discrimination. More like a turning of a blind eye to discrimination.

    A society which refuses to accept the wrongs done to others in the past will continue to be divided.

    Maybe so. I think it’s fair to say, however, that unionists generally do accept the wrongs of the Stormont regime (while questioning and challenging exaggeration).

    Provisional republicans, on the other hand, do not accept that their murder and terror campaign was wrong.

  • Davros

    Equally important WF – even IF the claims about NI were accurate the IRA was wrong to murder and bomb and terrorise. There was a political alternative available. They CHOSE not to engage.

  • Mario

    I do hope that you not read into this any support for IRA terrorists on my part. I have never supported any sort of terrorism, state or otherwise. It is wrong to murder others just as it was wrong to murder civil rights workers in NI.

    I dont think that the majority of Republicans in NI justify the IRA’s murder campaign and I would bet most would admit so.

  • slackjaw

    Further thoughts about McAleese’s remark:

    Is there a difference in interpretation, possibly along unionist/nationalist lines, as to what was meant by ‘people in Northern Ireland’?

    When I read McAleese’s remark, I honestly did not interpret ‘people in Northern Ireland’ as in any way intended to imply that the majority, or even a reasonably large proportion, of Protestants in Northern Ireland transmitted hatred to their children. I took ‘people in Northern Ireland’ to mean simply and primarily that: ‘people’ who transmitted hatred.

    Now, one can make a reasonable assumption that such people would be Protestant, but it would have required, for me at least, to make a rather large inferential leap in order to take her remarks as meaning that an entire community, or even a majority of that community, or even a significant minority of that community, taught hatred to their children in the same way as Nazis did to theirs.

    But perhaps that is because I was brought up an RC in NI, and my way of reading and interpreting the remarks of another NI RC could differ from that of people in NI who were brought up as Protestants.

    As I said on another post, her comments were ill-judged and one-sided. She should have mentioned hatred of Protestants. However, I think that her remarks have been wilfully misread and misinterpreted by some people (note that when I say some people, I don’t mean ‘Protestants’) in media and political circles, for maximum publicity.

    People who make a living of inferring nuances off the back of other nuances all of a sudden turned into literal fundamentalists, with scant regard for context or circumstance.

    In short, ‘People in Northern Ireland’ does not, and should not, be taken to mean ‘Protestant’. Especially when it’s an NI Catholic who’s talking.

  • Davros

    Now, one can make a reasonable assumption that such people would be Protestant, but it would have required, for me at least, to make a rather large inferential leap in order to take her remarks as meaning that an entire community, or even a majority of that community, or even a significant minority of that community, taught hatred to their children in the same way as Nazis did to theirs.

    I understand from where you are coming SJ. However the “as Nazis did” is the crux – Formally, openly , in the home, in the media and in the school 24/7. When we talk of the nazis and how they did it we’re not talking about a minority of a localised majority.We are talking of, with some exceptions, the ordinary public. I would say that it was my experience that those who passed on hatred in NI were the exception rather than the rule. And I would suggest that the type of “hatred” passed on in Ireland by both sides was generally very different -political emnity and distrust rather than the belief that the other side were sub-human or vermin to be exterminated.

  • Davros

    Incidentally, this may be of interest as an illustration –

    Packie’s years of terror

    If what the President said was true, would someone who could be so demonised as a member of both the UDA and UVF have played with the Young Bobby Sands if he had been brainwashed from birth to hate Catholics ? And obviously the same for Bobby Sands. One of the most demonised figures of my youth, Bernadette Devlin wrote with great affection of an orangeman she called her “uncle”.
    Bad and all as things were and still are here, I don’t think it does anyone credit to suggest that what the President said originally was fair comment.

  • Davros

    Incidentally, this may be of interest as an illustration –

    Packie’s years of terror

    If what the President said was true, would someone who could be so demonised as a member of both the UDA and UVF have played with the Young Bobby Sands if he had been brainwashed from birth to hate Catholics ? And obviously the same for Bobby Sands. One of the most demonised figures of my youth, Bernadette Devlin wrote with great affection of an orangeman she called her “uncle”.
    Bad and all as things were and still are here, I don’t think it does anyone credit to suggest that what the President said originally was fair comment.

  • JD

    Shame and responsibility are interlinked, Davros. Both are admissions of responsibility/ guilt. I am also talking about taking personal responsibility for the actions of one’s community.

    I’m not suggesting anything outlandish.

  • Neal

    More thoughts about the actual thread topic – several posters have claimed that McAleese’s remark was deliberate, with the justification that she is a smart, media-savvy person who would have known better. She simply underestimated the reaction, or so the claim goes.

    My question is, how could such a person not be intelligent enough to anticipate the reaction? I mean, is there anyone here who is surprised at the reaction? It seems to me that it would be far stupider to have thought that such a comment would not draw the reaction it has than it would be to make the statement without thinking it through.

  • willowfield

    At 8.58pm last night, I asked JD to explain what exactly he wants me to accept responsibility for.

    He declined to answer.

  • slackjaw

    Davros

    As the woman herself pointed out, it was a clumsy remark, so I would not make any claim that it was somehow ‘fair comment’.

    ‘In the same way the Nazis did’ is indeed a rather clumsy formulation. I suppose you have to ask yourself, though: in light of what you already know about this person, is it reasonable to infer, from this remark, that she is intentionally, or even subliminally, attempting to smearing all Protestants in Northern Ireland?

    I think it is perfectly fair to argue that this was a person sincerely trying to make a serious point, in light of the occasion, about how prejudice gets passed on from one generation to the next, and how we should be vigilant against it.

    She sought to illustrate this, for the benefit of her audience, with what we would both recognise as her most immediate example, yet she did not acknowledge simultaneously a hatred of Protestants. That was the main deficiency of her remarks. I do not know why she failed to do this, but I think that it is prejudiced to imply, as many appear to have done, that this was evidence of ‘the mask slipping’. As you might say Davros, the reasons her omission may have been complex and multi-factorial :).

    Now, to compound matters, the use of the term ‘in the same way the Nazis did’ is, as you point out, a very serious description indeed.

    Again, though, I think you should ask yourself if her intention, given what you already know about her, was to imply, in order to smear, that the majority of Northern Protestants methodically inculcated in their children a hatred of Catholics, using exactly the same methods as the Nazis. If your answer is yes, then perhaps you can tell me what motivation this person would have to do such a thing. Because I cannot see any reason, given what I already know about this person, for her to use her position to make claims for systematic brainwashing practised by the majority.

    Or, put another way, do you really believe, given the source you quote, that Mary McAleese is somehow more prejudiced and less objective than Bernadette Devlin? If so, why?

    Finally, with regard to your comment that ‘the type of “hatred” passed on in Ireland by both sides was generally very different -political emnity and distrust rather than the belief that the other side were sub-human or vermin to be exterminated.’,

    I am sure that you would agree with me that anti-semitism was fuelled in Germany, under the Nazis, by fomentation of political emnity and distrust. This political emnity and distrust fed off essentializing prejudices.

    To kill someone simply because of their religion doesn’t just require political emnity and distrust – it requires a fair amount of essentializing prejudice – something that was never in short supply in Northern Ireland. And it is that type of prejudice that we should seek to eliminate. I think that that was the point, however clumsily expressed, of Mary McAleese’s remarks.

  • Davros

    I am sure that you would agree with me that anti-semitism was fuelled in Germany, under the Nazis, by fomentation of political emnity and distrust.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘fomentation of political emnity’ in this context SJ. Jews weren’t condemned for political beliefs or affiliations, they were condemned for existing. That’s why even converts and people with jewish parent or grandparents who didn’t regard themselves a jewish were murdered. One of the reasons I dislike this
    “celt” business, gael vs gall.

  • slackjaw

    Davros

    I fear we may be getting into entanglements over the meaning of words. Which is fine – we interpret words in different ways, depending on our own experiences and backgrounds. Where we get into difficulty is when we try to pin down words or phrases so that they can only have one meaning or interpretation.

    Now –

    ‘Jews weren’t condemned for political beliefs or affiliations, they were condemned for existing.’

    Allow me to clarify. I am not seeking to diminish in any way the systematic dehumanization and extermination of Jews by the Nazis. It is a while since I formally studied the matter, and my only conclusion is that I do not believe that I have the cognitive capacity to imagine the full extent of such a horror, nor to fully conceptualize the foul racial ideology that led to it.

    However, what I wanted to point out in this case is that the Nazis also legitimated their racial ideology and its outworkings by blaming Jews for political events. Perhaps ‘political enmity’, then, is not strong enough a term, and also enmity, which often has overtones of mutuality, is not the best term to use here.

    To develop the point I was trying to make, hatred and suspicion of Jews was fomented not only as a result of racial, but also political propaganda. Jews were deemed by the Nazis, for example to be co-conspirators in the perceived threat of Bolshevism; they were blamed, for example, for the burning of the Reichstag, and for profiteering during an era of severe economic depression.

    Such hatred and suspicion, therefore, could only serve to heighten essentialized prejudice. And such prejudice, even at a considerably lower level, should be challenged at every turn, because of its consequences. I think that that was the message that Mary McAleese was trying to get across, by using, albeit clumsily and one-sidedly, the example closest to home. It would be wrong to say that such essentialized prejudice did not exist in NI. On both sides. Or, to use my own preferred term, everywhere.

    It is wholly inappropriate to draw comparison between the actions of the Nazis and those of Protestants in Northern Ireland. Indeed, I think that continued reference to both within the same sentence serves to give the undue impression that such a comparison could even merit debate. But it is my view, based on what I know of Mary McAleese (and I am not a big a fan as you may think), and based on my interpretation of her comments, that such a comparison was not her intention.

    Now, any chance you (or anyone else so inclined) might answer the questions I posed in my previous post?

  • slackjaw

    Davros

    I fear we may be getting into entanglements over the meaning of words. Which is fine – we interpret words in different ways, depending on our own experiences and backgrounds. Where we get into difficulty is when we try to pin down words or phrases so that they can only have one meaning or interpretation.

    Now –

    ‘Jews weren’t condemned for political beliefs or affiliations, they were condemned for existing.’

    Allow me to clarify. I am not seeking to diminish in any way the systematic dehumanization and extermination of Jews by the Nazis. It is a while since I formally studied the matter, and my only conclusion is that I do not believe that I have the cognitive capacity to imagine the full extent of such a horror, nor to fully conceptualize the foul racial ideology that led to it.

    However, what I wanted to point out in this case is that the Nazis also legitimated their racial ideology and its outworkings by blaming Jews for political events. Perhaps ‘political enmity’, then, is not strong enough a term, and also enmity, which often has overtones of mutuality, is not the best term to use here.

    To develop the point I was trying to make, hatred and suspicion of Jews was fomented not only as a result of racial, but also political propaganda. Jews were deemed by the Nazis, for example to be co-conspirators in the perceived threat of Bolshevism; they were blamed, for example, for the burning of the Reichstag, and for profiteering during an era of severe economic depression.

    Such hatred and suspicion, therefore, could only serve to heighten essentialized prejudice. And such prejudice, even at a considerably lower level, should be challenged at every turn, because of its consequences. I think that that was the message that Mary McAleese was trying to get across, by using, albeit clumsily and one-sidedly, the example closest to home. It would be wrong to say that such essentialized prejudice did not exist in NI. On both sides. Or, to use my own preferred term, everywhere.

    It is wholly inappropriate to draw comparison between the actions of the Nazis and those of Protestants in Northern Ireland. Indeed, I think that continued reference to both within the same sentence serves to give the undue impression that such a comparison could even merit debate. But it is my view, based on what I know of Mary McAleese (and I am not as big a fan as you may think), and based on my interpretation of her comments, that such a comparison was not her intention.

    Now, any chance you (or anyone else so inclined) might answer the questions I posed in my previous post?

  • Davros

    I suppose you have to ask yourself, though: in light of what you already know about this person, is it reasonable to infer, from this remark, that she is intentionally, or even subliminally, attempting to smearing all Protestants in Northern Ireland?

    The jury is still out. I don’t know what to make of her in the light of those comments. Certainly BD comes across better in “The Price of My Soul” than MM did in her interview. Time will tell.

  • slackjaw

    Davros,

    ‘The jury is still out. I don’t know what to make of her in the light of those comments.’

    I obviously did a great job of convincing you on that one then. 🙂

    ‘Certainly BD comes across better in “The Price of My Soul” than MM did in her interview.’

    I too had an uncle who was an Orangeman. Does that count for anything in my defence of MM?

  • JD

    He declined to answer.

    The systematic discrimination against a minority carried out by those in power in the name of your religion.

    Individual and collective responsibility are intertwined.

  • Davros

    I too had an uncle who was an Orangeman. Does that count for anything in my defence of MM?

    I always admire and congratulate people who come out ! 🙂

  • Davros

    Individual and collective responsibility are intertwined.

    You are arguing for the same notion of collective responsibility that loyalist paramilitaries used to justify any RCs because they felt that all RCs were collectively responsible for the actions of the IRA and INLA.

  • Davros

    whoops:

    You are arguing for the same notion of collective responsibility that loyalist paramilitaries used to justify sectarian attacks on any RCs because they felt that all RCs were collectively responsible for the actions of the IRA and INLA.

  • JD

    You are arguing for the same notion of collective responsibility that loyalist paramilitaries used to justify any RCs because they felt that all RCs were collectively responsible for the actions of the IRA and INLA.

    Of course I am. And I’m arguing for, and justifying, killing in precisely the same manner as they did.

  • willowfield

    JD wants me to accept responsibility for “the systematic discrimination against a minority carried out by those in power in the name of your religion”.

    Assuming I accept the premise, why on earth would I accept responsibility for something in which I played no part, and which I would oppose?

    You are arguing for the same notion of collective responsibility that loyalist paramilitaries used to justify any RCs because they felt that all RCs were collectively responsible for the actions of the IRA and INLA. … Of course I am. And I’m arguing for, and justifying, killing in precisely the same manner as they did.

    Is this guy for real?