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.
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