Moving on…

THE Sunday Times reports that the Irish President is “pleased and relieved at “the generous reaction” to her apology, which was generally accepted by unionists“. Following her apology, a “delighted” Orange Order is now to reschedule a meeting with McAleese, which it had cancelled immediately after her comments.

While one Sindo columnist said Mary McAleese spoke for him in her initial comments, the News Letter leader says that despite the apology, the damage has been done. Ruth Dudley Edwards suggests that the President could atone by acknowledging and challenging sectarianism within her own community, and mentions an “illuminating debate on www.sluggerotoole.com”…

  • IJP

    Meanwhile Gerry Adams starts up on apartheid again.

    Before Davros and RK start up, as one whose parents live in South Africa and was a regular visitor both before and after ‘democracy’, I will state only this: anyone drawing a parallel between Unionist-run NI and Apartheid SA shows an alarming ignorance of NI, and a complete and utter misunderstanding of Apartheid.

    There is no parallel between NI and Apartheid South Africa – none at all.

    There is a parallel between contemporary NI and SA, though, which I’ve noted here once before and will note again:
    The tragedy of South Africa is that it has always been ruled – and still is – by elites which seek their own group self-interest rather than that of the country as a whole. Only when it at last acquires a ruling elite which thinks and feels for the whole of this beloved country will this sad cycle change. This is what guarantees Nelson Mandela a special place in South African hearts. He alone for a brief and precious moment seemed to promise at least the possibility of a common South Africanism.

    There is the parallel.

  • cg

    “There is no parallel between NI and Apartheid South Africa – none at all”

    Other South Africans academics who were born and raised there and who studied both conflicts disagree with you.

  • Robert Keogh

    IJP,

    I agree with you that the two situations are different in so many ways but I disagree with you that there are NO parallels. Both systems rested on the preference of one people over another. Discrimination in both states was cultural, economical and political.

    Remember – thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis. The truth of any situation is generally a blend of diverse viewpoints.

  • IJP

    I daresay I was being deliberately provocative!

    RK wins the reasonability prize, therefore!

    However, this is worth exploring further, because although of course there are parallels between just about any political systems, I would stand by the more precise comment that there are no significant parallels between NI 1921-72 and Apartheid SA. Therefore I would also stand by the comment that it is utterly (yet usually deliberately) misleading to compare these two. A much more accurate parallel would be, for example, the fate of Russian speakers in contemporary Estonia. Why does Gerry never pick on that one, huh?!

    Both systems rested on the preference of one people over another.

    Bluntly, all systems rest on the preference of one people over another. In NI they were defined religiously, in SA they were defined racially, even in contemporary Germany they are defined ethnically – others define ‘their people’ by class, income, geographical location etc etc. The best democratic systems, of course, even out these preferences through swing.

    Even if I agree those latter divisions are pushing it, this is not really a meaningful parallel because it is shared so widely.

    Apartheid, of course, rested on the belief in the superiority of one group per se over another. That is perhaps unique in the Western World post-war.

    Discrimination in both states was cultural, economical and political.

    I put a few notes on ‘discrimination’ elsewhere on Slugger, as it is itself a controversial word. But the truth is the very fundaments of discrimination varied, as did therefore the nature of it and its outcomes.

    But this is all to miss the very point of Apartheid. Apartheid was about the deliberate division/segregation of peoples (along racial lines) in law. If anything, you could argue that contemporary NI is more like that than it was 35+ years ago. Now there‘s a thought for the day…!

  • Keith M

    IJP “I will state only this: anyone drawing a parallel between Unionist-run NI and Apartheid SA shows an alarming ignorance of NI, and a complete and utter misunderstanding of Apartheid.” As someone recently returned from my first visit to RSA and a regular visitor to NI, I have to say that this is 100% on the mark.

    There may be parallels between RSA and NI, and certainly the segregated way in which people live is one of them (the way in which a minority tried to deny democracy to the majority is another). However if you are looking for a parallel, then Israel is a lot closer, but it is still very different.