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Urghhh… does he have to say stuff like this? June 22, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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There’s often a sense that Newton Emerson is attempting to have his cake and eat it in his columns. Never more so than with the following:

Since the election, remarkable levels of ignorance and hostility towards unionists have been revealed among the English left and the London media.

Unionists are unlikely to be bothered by this – the need to be liked is an Irish weakness. However, they should be concerned by the long-term implications.

Is the crack about ‘an Irish weakness’ a joke or not? It fits a pattern where Emerson says stuff about certain supposed character traits of Nationalists or Unionists.

Only the other week he wrote about Varadkar…

According to reports, Varadkar brings one final, personal gift to Irish nationalism. Sources claim he can be distant, private, impatient with glad-handing and awkward in social situations. What a breath of fresh air.

Any country planning to take one million unionists on board should get used to it.

Yeah. Because every Nationalist and Republican is glad-handing and unawkward in social situations. And every Unionist is dour and asocial.

Really?

I hate that rhetoric. It seems to me to be of a piece with mindsets that it seems to mock. Which reminds me…

Sometime in the mid to late 1980s I was on an Irish Defence Forces base where in the course of a Military History event amongst the great and the good was a female member of IIRC the UDR. We were talking and she was telling me about how easy it was to tell Catholics from Protestants (she was from her own testimony very decidedly from the latter category). How so I asked? What about myself? She looked at me and said ‘you’re 100% Irish Catholic, dark haired, etc…’ I have to admit I enjoyed telling her that I was from a background where my mother was originally English and originally CofE as were all her relatives into the distant mists of time etc. So I could only be 50% of what she was suggesting I was. Even assuming I accepted her premise which I didn’t. But again I dislike this sort of rhetoric that ascribes intrinsic and unchangeable traits to groups.

All that said Emerson is right to ring alarm bells on the broader issue. A pity that level of analysis isn’t matched by an ability to avoid those sort of quips.

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1. sonofstan - June 22, 2017

Somewhere, GBS talks about contact between the English and the Irish as being a conflict between dreamy fantasists and hard-headed realists – the English being the former and the Irish the latter.
I often think that the national stereotypes that natives adopt as their self-image can be, if anything, the very opposites of what they often are in reality. We Irish think we’re great crack but there’s no miserable sod like an Irish miserable sod. – the English think they’re charmingly eccentric while being amazingly conformist etc.

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Michael Carley - June 22, 2017

Hard-headed realists is right: people from small, weak countries can’t afford to be self-deluding, a lesson the English are now learning the hard way.

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2. Joe - June 22, 2017

I like Emerson. He was originally a satirist, no? And I think humour and satire is never too far away in his IT columns. And it’s hard to write humour right and a lot depends on the ear of the beholder.

Satire or no, I’d agree with him that the need to be liked is an Irish weakness.

A couple of weeks back he wrote a bit about a tweet some DUP politician had made about SF canvassing in Rathfriland of a Sunday. Yer man’s tweet was along the lines of “SF canvassers not welcome in a unionist town – especially on Sunday”. Newton’s line was that yer man was being economical with the truth. If he was honest he would have said “Nobody is welcome in a unionist town – at any time”.

Stereotypes are dangerous. I used to get annoyed at my nationalist da’s line that the protestants/unionists are a canny lot, they’ll be all on for a united Ireland once we can show them that they’ll do well financially out of it.

But I have to admit that with age it’s easier to fall back on stereotypes to confirm my biases!

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Ed - June 22, 2017

My main issue with Emerson’s columns for the IT has always been the fact that humour and satire are all too far away – a lot further away than he clearly believes himself. He seems to benefit from one of those ethno-national stereotypes himself: ‘ah sure, his jokes may not be very funny, but isn’t it marvellous that he’s trying to crack a joke at all?’

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3. Joe - June 22, 2017

“According to reports, Varadkar brings one final, personal gift to Irish nationalism. Sources claim he can be distant, private, impatient with glad-handing and awkward in social situations. What a breath of fresh air.

Any country planning to take one million unionists on board should get used to it.”

C’mon. Give the man a break. That piece above is funny.

Lads, yis need to lighten up a bit. He’s a Prod from the north. You don’t like him? He’s like Millwall, he don’t care.

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sonofstan - June 22, 2017

Oddly, I know a PFTN who never showed any interest in football of the non-oval variety until he moved to south London and starded going dahn Den

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Joe - June 22, 2017

How much of a real P from the N is he? Is he awkward in social situations? Canny when it comes to money? Hard worker? A bit direct if not blunt? Can he crack a joke?

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sonofstan - June 22, 2017

no,yes,yes,yes,yes

He can also speak Irish and play a few tunes

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Joe - June 22, 2017

Neither fish nor fowl. Not to be trusted I’d say.

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4. roddy - June 22, 2017

He would also be very right wing on economic matters and anti what he terms “the human rights lobby”.

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ivorthorne - June 23, 2017

Ah yes, the human.rights “lobby”. Out there promoting the interests of people with human rights and ensuring that they’re introduced into every aspect of every society. We need to do something about these special interest groups!

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5. Aengus Millen - June 23, 2017

I’ve been annoyed by multiple similar noises coming out of the north where unionists or supposed neutrals accuse the english media and people of being unfair towards the DUP. If they’re mad about the way the north is ignored by the UK then fair enough (though from a republican perspective I can’t get too worked up about it) However that doesn’t mean that criticizing the DUP for the genuinely fringe views they hold is unfair. These commentators keep saying that the english are ignoring the context of the DUP as if that justifies its retrograde views on women’s, LGBT or other issues. I for one hope the spotlight stays trained on the DUP.

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ivorthorne - June 23, 2017

+1

Mick Fealty is probably one of the worst offenders.

Look, the DUP have come a long way. But their elected representatives include ex-Loyalist paramilitaries and they hold views on gay rights, evolution, climate change and human rights in general that are at odds with the majority within the UK. They’re a perfect example of why the UK is NOT united on anything.

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6. Joe - June 23, 2017

I was in the pub with some good people a couple of nights ago. And this topic came up. The absolutely wacky far right dangerous views of the DUP on the likes of gay rights, evolution, climate change and human rights in general. And how at odds these views are with the great majority of people in the UK and the RoI and the West in general.
And the question I have is: The DUP gets what 90%? of the unionist vote. How many of their voters subscribe to their dangerous views on gay rights, their wacky views on evolution, their position on climate change etc? Surely there are lots of unionists up their who have the same views on these issues as the majority in the UK – yet they vote for the DUP presumably for one reason and one reason only i.e. the union.
Or am I wrong? Are all their voters as mad as the DUP itself and do they all support their positions on gay rights and climate change etc?

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ivorthorne - June 23, 2017

Well look at SF. It gets most of the nationalist vote and tries to justify certain historical actions that the majority of nationalists never supported.

I’ve always views the DUP as having an equivalent relationship with its voters.

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sonofstan - June 23, 2017

“The DUP gets what 90%? of the unionist vote”

Nothing like it – in the Westminster election two weeks ago they got 36% of the vote against just under 9% for the UUP; add in the TUV and Lady Hermon and that’s maybe 70% of the unionist total. In the assembly election where it’s less polar because of PR they got under 65% of the unionist vote.

I reckon the wacky views on creationism are about as relevant to the average DUP voter as what Jeremy C said the Gerry Adams in 1984 is to most Labour voters here.

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WorldbyStorm - June 23, 2017

Yeah, very true. I guess it’s also important to keep in mind that voters are different from parties – even parties they vote for. I think it unlikely that most DUP voters are young earth creationists or homophobes or climate change deniers. But they make a rational decision by the lights of the facts presented to them (even if we would differ) that the DUP will stand up for them and theirs in a way that best suits them. Again, it comes down to I’d never criticise a DUP politician for being a unionist, but I’d have no problem criticising them for being a climate change denier. And I’d have no problem saying Hermon is a pretty damn good politician and of relatively left inclinations in the context of the North whether she is a unionist or not.

Nor is it an insult or insulting or intended as such to unionists (voters in particular) to critique and criticise unionist politicians for non-unionist beliefs they might hold.

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WorldbyStorm - June 23, 2017

Actually, to give another example, I really dislike Kate Hoey, not because of her unionist instincts (though they are remarkably unnuanced and dismissive of nationalists and republicans and actually that would be an issue how people on either side engage or deal with those who take the other view, i.e. constructively, cordially or antagonistically) but because she seems so wedded to reactionary causes (such as fox hunting etc). She’s, of course, the BLP MP for Vauxhall.

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7. roddy - June 23, 2017

SF got the “majority of the nationalist vote” in 1918 on the back of actions in 1916″ that the majority of nationalists never supported”. Similarily it could be argued they never voted for much of what occured in the Tan war either.I also hope you’re not going down “the one sides as bad as the other”. road so beloved of lazy journalists and commentators.

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8. roddy - June 23, 2017

Hoey is also far from hostile to UKIP.

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WorldbyStorm - June 23, 2017

Very true. I often wonder why she is in the BLP. She must really dislike Corbyn.

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oconnorlysaght - June 24, 2017

She claims to like Corbyn, in, I think, a Guardian interview. I suspect she is just a mole who lives in a hole.

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9. roddy - June 24, 2017

She is from a part of Co Antrim where her present day accent would be virtually non intelligible to those she grew up with.I have always found those who change and gentrify their accents to be “wrong uns”!

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sonofstan - June 24, 2017

I don’t think that’s entirely fair, Roddy; we all code switch a bit. Like most Irish people here, I talk a lot slower than I would a home – otherwise they’d never follow. Equally, some people, without consciously meaning to, pick up the speech habit of wherever they are, or at least mix them with their native patterns. Which is not to defend Hoey for a moment from the more serious charge of being a Kipper in Labour clothing.

What’s sometimes weird is the way English people hear all Irish accents as basically the same: a student of ours from Belfast once told me that when her classmates tried to imitate her, they sounded like me!

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WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2017

Yeah, think that’s true re speech. Hoey a kipper in Labour clothing +1

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6to5against - June 25, 2017

My accent certainly did all of those things SOS. To the point that when I’ve been accused at various times of being a Nordic, a brit, a yank and a dub. And when I don’t venture near where I grew up I’m always asked where I’m from.

But the Reddy probably would consider me a wrong’un

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10. roddy - June 24, 2017

She is one of a long line of fake “leftists” who take a unionist line on Ireland and eventually show their true colours as right wingers.She joins a list that includes the likes of Bew and Fred Cobain up here and the Cruiser ,Harris and their ilk down south.

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11. roddy - June 25, 2017

“Reddy” is more incensed at people “gentrifying” their accents than for example adopting a north of England accent after living there for a long time.

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6to5against - June 25, 2017

Fair enough, Reddy.

Whatever about my accent, I really have to work on my typing.

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