“until you become more Enlightened..”

Another thought-full report from Hearts and Minds Julia Paul. This time the starting point is the recent Northern Ireland Life and Times report – as noted here – with contributions from Malachi O’Doherty and Chris McGimpsey, and a more interesting than usual vox-pop. [Was Michael Longley unavailable? – Ed]

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  • Plastic Paddy

    I wonder if anybody has ever done a survey in Connacht to see if people there are “Irish” “West of Ireland,” “from the Gaelthact” etc.

  • EagleEyes

    @Plastic Paddy

    Yes, I’m slithering, because I didn’t want to get into a republican rant (which this will surely become.)

    Let’s remove personal bias from the problem. If I were to say that I’m Polish but not European, Jamaican but not Caribbean, or a Texan but not an American – would that make any sense to you? Of course not. Why is Northern Ireland a special case?

    No, the contradiction is not superficial, it is fundamental.

    The line between England and Scotland is historic and dates back millenia. Its legitimacy is unquestioned.

    The line separating “Northern Ireland” from the “Republic of Ireland” is a modern creation, a gerrymandering of Ulster, caused by a local majority which was a national minority and intended to preserve a situation wherein that minority could be artificially created a majority – and it has caused nothing but misery since it was first drawn in 1921. It was an injustice then and it remains so today.

    You see, I don’t have a problem with that. That’s your opinion. It’s a moral position. A position in the field of ethics.

    What I have a problem with is where such a moral position is used to push an empirical argument, such as that anyone who sees themselves as Northern Irish but not Irish must be illogical / deluded, geographically illiterate rather than that you think that they are immoral, horribly insensitive to others’ suffering, an evil bigot, or whatever. No doubt he may feel that you are an evil bigot for presuming to dictate to him what his identity is allowed to be. But if your case is a moral one please don’t couch it as an empirical one.

    Using morality in an empirical argument is like trying to move a block of wood with a magnetic field. It just won’t work. The two things don’t bear relation to each other.

  • Plastic Paddy

    EE, One would have to be geographically illiterate (good phrase, that) to not see the fundamental problem.

    I don’t know if you watch Monty Python, but I’m reminded of the scene in “Life of Brian” where Michael Palin insists on everyone recognising his right to “want babies”.

    Yes, you one can call himself “Northern Irish” or “Ulsterman” or “Klingon” if he wants to, none of that changes the fact that somebody from Ireland is ipso facto Irish.

    To say otherwise is to deny empirical facts.

  • EagleEyes

    @Plastic Paddy

    Yes, you one can call himself “Northern Irish” or “Ulsterman” or “Klingon” if he wants to, none of that changes the fact that somebody from Ireland is ipso facto Irish.

    To say otherwise is to deny empirical facts.

    The relevant fact is Mr Emo’s identification – i.e. what is going on in his brain. If he says that he is Northern Irish but not Irish then you should at least accept that on the empirical level as a psychological reality. Just as I imagine both of us would accept someone saying they are Scottish but not British, as her psychological reality.

    Is Mr Emo’s self identity contradictory, illogical, a sign of thought disorder indicating a mental illness, a display of lack of knowledge or a sign of low intelligence? No it is none of those things. So let’s not cod on that it is any of those things if your position is in fact that he is immoral and that such “Northern Ireland nationalists” should be denied any rights of self determination on the basis of their genuinely felt psychological identification. Just come out and say that, then give your reasons. Whatever they may be.

    I just find the argument that Mr Emo is ignorant or somehow factually mistaken to be intolerant, but perhaps more importantly to lead the debate up the wrong path.

  • Plastic Paddy

    Alright, EE, let’s examine Emo Man’s comments.

    “I would say I’m Northern Irish because I don’t have any strong leanings towards either of the, sort of, groupings, if you know what I mean.”

    Fair enough. I doubt that he is as neutral as he says he is, but fair enough.

    “The idea behind, sort of, being Irish and, you know, living in Northern Ireland, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. I’m Northern Irish.”

    Notice that he didn’t say it doesn’t make sense to be British in Northern Ireland, he said that it doesn’t make sense to be Irish in Northern Ireland.

    For one, I doubt that this chap is as schooled in political affairs as most of the readers of this blog, so I’ll cut him some slack. The partition is obviously very real to him, and he doesn’t “get” people like me.

    His stance is a sort of apathetic, lazy unionism. Sure he has a right to self-identify however he chooses, but that doesn’t make his stance logically sound. See our Monty Python clip, link above.

  • Driftwood

    Plastic Paddy
    Do people who have immigrated to the United States in the last 300 years have the right to declare themselves American? Given the indigenous population is (just about) alive? Surely they are Europeans.
    Or are you Native American?

  • Plastic Paddy

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but I’ll indulge.

    “Do people who have immigrated to the United States in the last 300 years have the right to declare themselves American? Given the indigenous population is (just about) alive?”

    Yes.

    Surely they are Europeans.

    I’m sure that my black, Hindu, Korean, Mexican and Assyrian fiends (all US citizens) will be surprised to learn that they are, in fact, Europeans. I’ll set them know that you think so.

    Or are you Native American?

    I was born in the United States. I am a dual citizen of the United States and of Ireland. (Hence the nickname) Why is this relevant?

    I wouldn’t recommend trying to draw a close parallel between the colonial history of North America and that of Ireland. The differences are vast.