Apart from the ‘did he really say that’ snark value of a tweet the Sinn Fein leader quickly removed after it created a furious back draft – the dischordant controversy lay almost entirely in his use of the word ‘Nigger’ (something that made even the blushing subs at the Washington Post foreswear a simple repetition) rather than any inappropriate misapplication:
The Sinn Fein President has been playing a loose game in comparative language for a very long time, but it has taken a particularly ‘adventurous’ turn since his failure to gain entry to the Obama White House at St Patrick’s Day celebrations, and his ‘back of the bus’ remarks.
Within a short time the tweet had been removed and a press statement released:
The ‘complaint’ about context is interesting. It seems to suggest that if only people knew about the historical lives in Ballymurphy (a huge housing development ‘dumped’ on the outer edge of Belfast without shops, schools or even a church in the late 1940s) they might understand the parallel with the ultimate withdrawal of human identity suffered by African Americans in slavery.
I’ll leave the reader to draw her own conclusions on that question.
To take a more parochial view of the matter (which will surely blow over before some of Mr Adams other – and far more serious – policy missteps) it’s hard not to see it as another wilful if arbitrary shot in the party’s foot as we enter the final week of an election campaign which in the absence of any substantial message (and a near content free manifesto) has been Sinn Fein’s defining feature.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty