As ‘PEGIDA Ireland’ licks its wounds, Manus Lenihan uses the events to talk about hate and how to challenge it.
In this article we will imagine that there was, at some stage over the last few years, a group set up called “PAGOBA” – “Patriots Against the Gaelicisation Of Britain and America.”
The description of their facebook page would be: “Here at PAGOBA, we are not afraid to tell you the TRUTH. Even though the PC BRIGADE want to brainwash you with their multicultural madness into accepting PAEDOS and KILLERS for neighbours.”
PAGOBA’s posts would go on to justify this extraordinary claim.
They would point out that Irish people have refused to integrate with US and British society, building their own Catholic churches, setting up organisations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Orange lodges, founding Gaelic Clubs, Irish-language schools and GAA teams.
PAGOBA would explain how for decades, Catholic priests in Ireland and amid the Irish diaspora engaged in massive-scale sexual abuse of children, which was covered up. They would point out how in spite of this being public knowledge, a majority of Irish people still identify as Catholic. PAGOBA would claim this as proof that a majority of Irish people support paedophilia and rape, and that rape and violence are inseparable from Irish culture and Catholicism.
PAGOBA would share cartoons like these ones below, along with captions like this: “Irish extremists and PC liberals want to BAN cartoons that show THE TRUTH about Irish terrorism. We say, if you don’t understand our ideals of free speech, GO HOME. SHARE IF YOU AGREE”
PAGOBA would routinely share facts such as: and “Millions of Irish people have entered the USA since 1845 – they’re even taking over our police departments – yet if you say there’s a problem, you get condemned as a racist!” and “35 MILLION Americans are descended from Irish people – SOON WE WILL BE A MINORITY IN OUR OWN COUNTRY.”
Pagoba would demand that the borders be closed to Irish migrants – because “it would be naïve to think that NONE of the Irish so-called migrants are actually terrorists or paedophiles or Catholic extremists.”
America at this time was plagued by mass killings and school shootings. Each of these usually led to a debate on gun control and / or mental health. But on the rare occasions when Irish-Americans were found guilty, the discussion was totally different; the perpetrator’s ethnicity and religious beliefs were highlighted and discussed in great detail, and all Irish-Americans were expected to show remorse and to “do more to combat radicalization in their communities”.
The political establishment looked on PAGOBA with their noses in the air. They regarded it as not fundamentally wrong, but rather vulgar, “inappropriate”. They argued that Irish immigrants were, up to a point, good for the labour force, and a healthy addition to the breeding stock of the nation. In any case, the Irish would be thoroughly vetted and processed and, if they committed any crimes, deported. Still the politicians hardened their anti-Irish rhetoric in response to PAGOBA, and did not challenge its central claims. This is because the major political parties were overseeing massive inequality, plummeting living standards, and stagnant economies. Anger over this was mounting among working-class and middle-income people. On balance, the politicians and the super-rich were relieved to see public debate shifting away from the question of class inequality, and towards the question of how harshly Irish people should be treated.
Another reason the politicians did not greet PAGOBA with enthusiasm was that the majority of people in North America and Britain rejected it, especially those who lived in close proximity with actual Irish communities. But when these people raised criticisms of PAGOBA, they would be met with arguments such as:
- Typical liberal-lefty loony cultural Marxist in your self-righteous bubble, we do not live in a fairytale world, many Irish immigrants are CATHOLIC EXTREMISTS, TERRORISTS and PAEDOPHILES!
- Naïve multiculturalist PC types claim that the church is no longer as powerful in Ireland as it used to be – but they still have the most repressive laws against abortion in all of Europe, and the church is still in control of the vast majority of schools and hospitals. YOU WANT THAT TO HAPPEN OVER HERE?
- Not all Irish people are dangerous? Tell that to the 3,500 people who died in the space of 25 years thanks to IRISH TERRORISM AND ETREMISM!!
- Shame on the so-called “left” for being so soft and spineless about taking on catholic fundamentalism and Irish extremism. Irish terrorists collaborated with THE NAZIS! AND their leader De Valera sympathized with the German ambassador on the death of Hitler! And you make excuses for these animals!
- How dare you call me a racist! Irish terrorism and Catholic fundamentalism are not a race! They are a sick ideology, a cancer that endangers the whole world.
PAGOBA and its supporters were quick to point out the difference between Irish immigration and previous waves of new arrivals: “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants came to America, didn’t force their views on anyone, worked hard and didn’t expect anything to be handed to them.” Contrasted to this dubious assertion were the millions of Irish who had poured into North America since the famine: many were unemployed, many were alcoholics, they were having massive families, they were building Catholic churches everywhere they went, and kicking up a row over anti-Irish speeches and cartoons. Unlike the WASPs, said PAGOBA, the Irish just did not understand freedom of expression: “Irish culture is just not compatible with western civilization.”
In Britain the debate was different. There, anyone who knew the first thing about history reminded everyone that Britain’s rulers were, for centuries, responsible for keeping Ireland in a state of poverty and oppression that forced millions to migrate. These people were shouted down furiously: PAGOBA supporters condemned them for “making excuses” for vile acts of terrorism and paedophilia.
There came a day when PAGOBA organized simultaneous rallies in Times Square, New York and Trafalgar Square, London, calling for an end to Gaelic immigration. Only a handful of racists showed up: they were dwarfed by anti-racist counter-protestors of all creeds and nationalities. In spite of heavy police protection, some of the PAGOBA members came out the worse after violent scuffles.
PAGOBA was humiliated, but consoled itself by grumbling that the far left had thuggishly denied them their right to freedom of speech. This complaint was echoed even by some liberals.
Moved by this whole phenomenon, one of the anti-racists decided to write an article about it in a satirical, allegorical form. The premise was not completely watertight: there were weak points, as no analogy is ever exact. But by and large the article made its point clear: if you can find enough poison in your soul to whip up hatred against a certain group, whether it’s the inhabitants of a small island or one of the world’s biggest religions, it is quite easy to selectively highlight evidence that “proves” that this group is deficient or dangerous in some way. The real challenge is to engage with the complexity of real life, and to find ways to unite different racial and religious groups around common goals that improve conditions for everyone.