I have been thinking a bit more about the Paul Dunne piece yesterday
and I will admit to feeling, still, a little needled. It probably serves little purpose to "fisk" the entire piece. I don't mean to "cop out" but such a fisking would be a mammoth task given, not only the many specious assertions made, but the assumptions behind those assertions. Further it occurs to me that it anyone who is convinced by Dunne's rather hysterical screed is unlikely to prove amenable to reason.
I cannot, however, let certain things pass. I would like to apologise to any ex-pats if I gave the impression that Dunne's argument was necessarily weakened by virtue of the fact that he resides in Germany. This wasn't the precise point I wished to make.
Before I explain what I mean I need to explain a bit about how careful an extreme nationalist like Dunne is with his words. Those who are unfamiliar with the particulars of republican theology might easily miss certain weasel terms and evasions. Dunne's piece, along with his blog in general, is riddled with them. I am very conscious of them and react accordingly. Here are a couple not readily detectable:
1. "The six counties": Ok, this is a bit of an obvious one. The idea is that "Ireland" is the full 32 counties and any lesser is not a legitimate state. This does not only refer to the "six counties" of Northern Ireland but also the "twenty six counties" of the Republic. It is taboo in extremist nationalism to recognise the fact that partition has already taken place (going on about three quarters of a century now). A related term is "the North of Ireland" as opposed to "Northern Ireland". That one is quite easy to miss. It is important to recognise this evasion because when some extreme nationalists say "Ireland", they are not talking about a real place at all but a fantasy. In this fantasy, there is a "legitimate government" which is the 1919 Dail (which devolved its power to the IRA). This is the last time that an all-Ireland election was held. This, according to the theology, was the last democratic government of Ireland. Thus, since 1919, Ireland, as the fantasy has it, is "ruled" by the "provisional government" of the IRA Army council. The fantasy also states that "Ireland" remains at war with Britain.
2. "Green, White and Gold": This is a very easy one to miss. Dunne specifically claims that I'm not "loyal to the Green, White and Gold flag of Ireland" and for once, emulating the proverbial crocked clock, he is exactly right. That's because there is no such thing as the "Green, White and Gold". The tricolour, our national flag, has three easily identifiable colours: Green, White and Orange
. It was specifically designed to represent not just the "Green" Catholic tradition, but the "Orange" Protestant tradition also. It may seem abtruse of me to draw attention to this but the use of the word "Gold" is quite deliberate. The idea is that nothing should take away from the perception that the "settlers" of Ulster are an "alien" imposition on "Green" Ireland.
My intention here is to set the context for Dunne's remarks, particularly on what constitutes a "true Irishman" rather than to specifically criticise those who use these evasions. (As it turns out, plenty of people I respect use these terms)
Now, to explain my annoyance at being lectured in Irishness by the expatriate Dunne: It is quite easy to sustain this fantasy image of Ireland when you live abroad. That is not the same as saying that all expats have unrealistic fantasy images of their homeland. Rather that those who already wish to conjure up this "Ireland of the mind" - in which all "true" Irish people share this perception that we are at war with "our enemy" the British, who still "occupy" a corner of our land - will find it easy to avoid evidence which contradicts this view.
I was born, grew up, live and work here in real-world, prosperous, increasingly multicultural, 26 counties, Republic of Ireland, very near real-world, relatively thriving, 6 counties, Northern Ireland. There are plenty of things I could complain about but I am happy to live here. I put my money (including my coerced taxes!) where my mouth is. Thus, in no way is it accurate to say that I'm "anti-Irish". I have no interest in a whose-more-Irish-than-whom pissing contest but Dunne's claim of authentic Irishness is, in his own way, no less ersatz than that of the average lachrymose Boston drunk who has never crossed the Atlantic.
Oh, and by the way: I didn't argue that the famine was all the fault of the Irish, just that I have no patience for the self-pitying line that this was a tragedy inflicted on us by the British in the same way as the Holocaust or slavery. This was a tragic event but not the simple story Dunne would have us believe, (and I don't care how much
Historical knowledge he claims to possess!). By definition the ancestors of today's Irish people did not
die or emigrate. That much is beyond refutation. Thus neither Dunne or I can plausibly claim that tragedy as our own. Whatever claim Irish-Americans might have to victimhood under the famine, it is not one rightfully available to contemporary Irish people.
Suggestions to individual English people that they examine their conscience in this respect, apart from being pompous, are way off the mark. The fact is: take an English person at random, such as the author of the blog
who aroused Dunne's righteous scorn. The chances of an individual ancestor of hers having anything to do with the famine are non-existently slim, given the size of the English population and the level of immigration into the country. The chances of an ancestor of Dunnes (or even mine) thriving while others starved, are a lot higher. This is what I intend when I put it back to Dunne and it is not quite the same as relieving the British of responsibility, it is certainly the case that absentee governance exacerbated the problem. If anyone is going to bear responsibility for the actions of their ancestors, and unlike him I don't believe they should, then any random Irish person is more likely to have had a "culpable" ancestor than any random English person.
has picked up on this discussion and rather misleadingly titles the post "Famine Denial". This is not the case.
UPDATE: One last thing, anyone tempted to dismiss this as a mildly diverting inter-blog dispute, similar to the regular banter I have with Dick
, might re-read these sinister words of this deluded fantasist (and indeed Nazi apologist):
"A Jewish version of McGahon would be rehashing "Did Six Million Really Die?" on his little website -- or rather, he would be for a very short while, until he was taken care of. We have in our midst detritus no other nation would tolerate...Why do we have so many of these wretches in Ireland? ... It's pointless simply bemoaning this situation. These cancerous cells within the body politic are a danger to the life and health of the nation, and, just as a man riddled with cancer must destroy the alien cells or be destroyed himself, so we must rid ourselves of the enemy within if we wish to restore our national well-being. In that sense, the West British are unwittingly right in their belittling of the struggle against England: the enemy is also at home, and dealing with them may well now be the more important fight. "
[emphasis added] I think I can say that this is the first time I have received death threats. 1:01PM 2/12/03