#SluggerReport – If you want to do the highest job you got to take the bricks with the accolades…

Last #SluggerReport for a while in which I look at various of the dilemmas facing the political parties after another deadlocked Assembly.

Unionism has some legitimate grievances, not least over how the core story of RHI was handled (sins of omission largely) but as Eilis O’Hanlon notes here, getting grumpy and slagging off nationalist culture is a game with limited returns:

…the only surprise about DUP leader Arlene Foster’s apology for referring to supporters of an Irish Language Act* as crocodiles, greedily gobbling up concessions before coming back for more, is that it took her so long. That, and the fact the apology was so begrudging.

She told the Impartial Reporter in her Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency that she regretted making the remark “in so far as it allowed Sinn Fein to use it against me and to use it to demonise me”, which is like giving with one hand, then taking away with the other.

Clearly she’s still smarting at the way SF exploited her words to their electoral advantage; but she was the one who handed them the opportunity to play the victim.

Mrs Foster is also justifiably aggrieved at being subsequently caricatured as a sectarian bigot, who couldn’t bear to have a Catholic about the place; but, again, she could have defused that quickly by being more conciliatory.

It must be galling to be snarked at by a party currently throwing shapes over child protection in the Republic which took all of the time it takes to write a press release to investigate allegations aimed at their own party leader.

What we’re witnessed is a clash of world-views, such that in the optics of the Peace Process™ the sins of one always outweigh the sins of the other. To reprise Professor Lakoff from last week:

Ideas don’t just float in the air, they are in your neural circuitry. And if you have a world view then that’s a lot of neural circuits. And those neural circuits for a world view are fixed.

Once they are fixed they become what you would call a neural filter. You can only understand what your brain allows you to understand. So if you only have one worldview, you’re stuck to understanding only things that fit that world view.

If information comes in that doesn’t fit it, it will either be not noticed, ignored, ridiculed or attacked.

To amend LBJ famous description of the US Presidency slightly, “Being First Minister is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There’s nothing to do but to stand there and take it.“If you want to do the highest job you got to take the bricks with the accolades Arlene.

*See Nevin’s important qualification below. Foster’s remarks only referenced SF, not Irish Language Act supporters.

,

  • Nevin

    “So the only surprise about DUP leader Arlene Foster’s apology for referring to supporters of an Irish Language Act as crocodiles, greedily gobbling up concessions before coming back for more, is that it took her so long.” .. Eilis link

    “The crocodile comment was in relation to Sinn Fein and not in relation to the Irish Language Act.” .. Arlene in Impartial Reporter

    Arlene’s comment may have been influenced by Gerry Adam’s ‘break the b***ards’ and ‘Trojan horse’.

  • johnny lately

    Two wrongs do make a right then Nevin and maybe Gerry Adams was just talking about the DUP but what about her Gatekeeper remark any idea what spurred on that statement. Theres only one idea of a horse but lots of different breeds and bigotry is no different.

  • Nevin

    “Unionism has some legitimate grievances, not least over how the core story of RHI was handled (sins of omission largely)”

    BBC licence-fee payers have legitimate grievances too. IMO that shoddy but sensationalist BBC Spotlight presentation turned a serious story which wasn’t even a drama prior to December 6 into a crisis. Ratings appear to be more highly valued than its mission to ‘inform, educate and entertain’.

  • Nevin

    jl, perhaps we should be looking at decisions which ministers from all parties, not just the SDLP and SF, have taken in the run-up to the election. I was briefed in mid-January about a ministerial decision which wasn’t officially announced until three weeks later. The late announcement probably lessened the chances of a judicial review shortly before election day. As to why I was briefed it might have been intended to hold back a potential blog.

  • mickfealty

    You’re right Nev. I knew that and should not have repeated it. Shows how lie gets round the world before the truth gets its boots on. Fake news in fact.

  • johnny lately

    Have you heard any rumours Mick ?

  • mickfealty

    Eh?

  • johnny lately

    Wildfire around republican areas re MMG

  • mickfealty

    I haven’t, but we’ve been expecting something there.

  • johnny lately

    If its true I would imagine those threats about another election will be quickly dropped.

  • articles

    “Unionism has some legitimate grievances, not least over how the core story of RHI was handled (sins of omission largely)”

    Attacking the BBC is an extreme form of the ad homonym fallacy, playing the man not the ball. The narrative of AE17 is just “one own goal” after another by the DUP.

  • mickfealty

    They can’t of course without being accused of being sore losers.

  • johnny lately

    Rumours are untrue.

  • mickfealty

    Good. We’re probably going to have to endure this for a while. Looking at Twitter it’s doing nothing for community relationships.

  • johnny lately

    Indeed Mick fingers are being pointed.

  • Superfluous

    When I was growing up the BBC kept referring to my dad and my uncles as ‘terrorists’, when I thought they were generally alright.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Arlene did not insult nationalists. She just made a jibe against Sinn Fein. That’s not below the belt and it’s a shame

  • Annie Breensson

    That’s your view. The large turnout of nationalist voters indicates a lot of people don’t agree.

  • mickfealty

    And your point is?

  • mickfealty

    Quite. But still, whilst there’s a nasty smell to the whole thing, there’s no use in dropping standards.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    There is shock and great bitterness at the way Adams turned the tables on the D..U P.. I think he enjoyed the whole campaign as Arlene kept making the hole bigger. Blaming Gerry Adams, blaming the B.B.C. Things certainly have changed for the future.

  • Deeman

    One mans terrorist is another mans Da.

  • ted hagan

    It’s very simple. The DUP dumps Foster. Then they can start afresh. What’s so difficult to understand,

  • Superfluous

    That the BBC is bias against Taigs and Prods, the bastards.

  • Barneyt

    I’d say she astonished more than insulted.

  • Barneyt

    The reduction in the number of seats offered a get out clause. They tried to sell a victory and I suppose with their vote count up they can try. It matters little. The gap closed dramatically and that should hurt. There’ll be plenty of heel-digging yet.

  • Barneyt

    Oh that’s good. Does that me me Ma a revolutionary

  • burnboilerburn

    Why do some of your comments make absolutely no sense whatsoever? This is not an attack I am genuinely curious. At least 50% of the comments your write seem to be some sort of riddle or vague kind of analogy. Or maybe I am thick, probably the latter !!

  • David Crookes

    I have heard something along the same lines from a source that would be considered responsible.

  • burnboilerburn

    The media will always come down on an easy target. Right or Wrong doesn’t really come into it very much. Arlene messed up, that’s for sure. The media sniff that blood and go in for the kill like a pride of lions tearing lumps out of an elephant. Journalism these days is not about truth, the destruction of a powerful individual has become a drug to many so-called journalists.

  • Sliothar

    Gavin and Mick.
    1. It wasn’t TAKEN as a jibe against SF. I, and MANY others, took it (re Irish language) as a personal insult to our traditions and way of life.
    2. My own personal (again) standards didn’t drop in S Belfast and, as a consequence, 4 of my top choices were elected. So where did the nasty smell come from – burning pellets, bent contracts, brown envelopes, foul insults?
    Too cryptic, Mick… Please specify.

  • mickfealty

    Journalistic. Reporting something how it was taken as how it was actually said is Chinese whispers/propaganda, not journalism. It originated from a direct lie.

    This is a fairly comprehensive list, from “Information-Psychological Warfare In Modern Conditions” by Kuleshov et al. Some ring more relevant than others:

    “The primary methods of manipulating information used by the mass media in the interests of information-psychological confrontation objectives are:

    - Direct lies for the purpose of disinformation both of the domestic population and foreign societies;
     Concealing critically important information;

    - Burying valuable information in a mass of information dross;

    - Simplifi cation, confi rmation and repetition (inculcation);

    – Terminological substitution: use of concepts and terms whose meaning is unclear or has undergone qualitative change, which makes it harder to form a true picture of events;

    - Introducing taboos on speci c forms of information or categories of news;

    – Image recognition: known politicians or celebrities can take part in political actions to order, thus exerting in uence on the world view of their followers;

    - Providing negative information, which is more readily accepted by the audience than positive.

    See also Dalibor Rohac, “Cranks, Trolls, and Useful Idiots: Russia’s information warriors set their sights on Central Europe,” Foreign Policy, 12 March 2015, https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/12/cranks-trolls-and- useful-idiots-poland-czech-republic-slovakia-russia-ukraine/.

  • mickfealty
  • Reader

    articles: …ad homonym fallacy…
    I like that one, and I intend to make use of it at some point.

  • mickfealty

    Throw me some specifics?

  • johnny lately

    Who are you saying is using the disinformation and media manipulation techniques Mick, the DUP or Sinn Fein, the British government or all of them ?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But can they really “start afresh” ted? One of the reasons it has been so very very easy for Arlene to circle the wagons within the party is that she is an utterly authentic voice of encoded approaches within the DUP, a party founded on the perennial strategy that “Ulster says NO!”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Of course, Mick, all of this originates structurally with the insights of Edward Bernays whose “Propagada” was something of a textbook for every political or commercial interest (the democracies, and the multinationals included) across much of the twentieth century. Anyone involved in Advertising or marketing simply cannot avoid the pervasive influence of Bernays.

    As a Jew Bernays himself was shocked to discover Goebbel’s tremendous enthusiasm for his work when he discovered just who influential he had been on the German minister of culture:

    “They were using my books as the basis for a destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me, but I knew any human activity can be used for social purposes or misused for antisocial ones.”

    All the methods you quote above can be sourced pretty much in Bernays’ writings, although his ideas have sunk so completely into our collective media culture that this is usually quite invisible. Adam Curtis’ excellent 2002 four part documentary “The Century of the Self” offers an excellent popular general review of all of this influence.

  • Sliothar

    Jeez, Mick, I oney asked! 😉
    (Grma).

  • articles

    Just remember I coined it first and acknowledge the origin.

  • Nevin

    I imagine that many Slugger commenters could easily tear a few lumps out of our somewhat mediocre mainstream media: Companies House – Asleep at the desk?. I’ve used a fictional name for the purpose of illustration.

  • Granni Trixie

    When you grew up did you still think they were ‘alright’? Just because your relatives did wrong doesn’t mean to say you have to think that what they did was right.

  • Granni Trixie

    That is v. educational Mick. Looks like instinct doesn’t cut the mustard any more.

  • Granni Trixie

    I might not be the targeted group but I felt Arlene was insulting and intended to dehumanise whoever the remark was aimed at. It was like a horrible theM and us face that I hoped was on the way out. And to see on it on someone branded as FM was just unacceptable. My worry is that the DUP and their leader still don’t get it.

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    It was the TUV vote of 20,500 which actually damaged the DUP vote….

  • Nevin

    “Arlene Foster has her flaws, but those who loyally defend the Sinn Fein president’s frequently menacing and mean-spirited outbursts are the last people with any right to call her out on them” .. Eilis

    The thrust of Eilis’ article appears to be mainly directed at Gerry’s behaviour. So why did the kitchen sink get hurled? Initial RHI reporting focused on Arlene and the DUP, on DUP SpAds, on SpAd family members, etc. The early political pressure came from the smaller parties and SF was flip-flopping all over the place. As folk began to dig further into the RHI debacle it turned out that the scheme was being jointly presented and promoted by DETI and DARD civil servants, departments headed by DUP and SF ministers. When I looked into the background of a fire in Fermanagh that consumed several biomass boilers I noted someone who was unlikely to be a DUP member or a sponsor of so-called unionist culture. Perhaps Gerry and senior colleagues were providing some protection for Michelle and the party?

    “slagging off nationalist culture” .. Mick

    I separated traditional expressions of culture from inappropriate political labelling many many moons ago, even before I paid attention to the activities of our little bands of culture warriors. I’ve no cultural talents whatsoever but our JCSS concerts at Corrymeela and elsewhere provided a platform for a diverse range of talents as well as cultural forms. I daresay slagging off takes place in Scotland too but the approach to the protection and growth of minority languages and the exploration of place name origins appears to be inclusive and co-operative. Perhaps we could learn a lot from their example.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Granni, instinct has ceased to “cut the mustard” since Edward Bernays and his disciples began to use Freud to manage and shape public opinion by encoding carefully crafted unconscious reactions. Have you watched “The Century of the Self”, a series of four important documentaries by Adam Curtis on the deevlopment of the commercial and political “management” of public opinion? The fourth is of particular interest dealing as it does with the import of such techniques into the “sound bite” politics of Clinton and Blair.The documentaries are available on YouTube:

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks for the link,Seaan,will follow up.
    Re instinct , I wrote that on the understanding that it doesn’t ‘just happen’ but a construct.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d fully agree Granni (wearing my Jungian hat with seven years of part time training behind it) that instinct is developed as a construct, but it is the unconscious processes we draw from to construct instinctive reaction which are actually being monkeyed with by marketing and advertising experts co-opted to political campaigns.