I know it’s quite pointless to respond to click bait editorials and randomers on Twitter and Facebook but it appears that my Country has somehow placed me in the uncomfortable position of defending America.
I don’t want to defend America- the entire nation is objectively terrible. Their entire Government is so corrupt it functions like an oligarchy, it has one of the worst child mortality rates in the West, their greed is so rampant that they can’t even keep schools open and they’re so stupid that they think free healthcare is a bad thing. But here I am, defending them.
The reason of course is that I’ve noticed an uptake in Xenophobia towards America from the Irish, the irony of course is that it originated as a response to America’s very own Xenophobia.
I’ve actually had a lot of conversations with people who’ve grown a keen distaste towards America. While I was in Catalonia I recall one conversation in which my colleagues were talking shite about how the American Government had shut down, but I reminded them we’d be a little hypocritical criticizing them considering we haven’t had a Government in well over a year.
I’ve actually talked to people who blatantly refuse to visit the country so long as Trump is President, as if he’d be lurking around each and every corner. They later clarified that if they did go they’d only visit the coasts- citing that the rest of the nation is “too dumb to deal with“.
Now personally I have a lot of issues with this perspective. Mainly because it implies that people from Rural areas are somehow inherently dumber than their City counterparts. That’s just horseshit- there’s idiots and racists everywhere, some are just louder.
Also, have you ever been to a City? The people are all incredibly impolite. They’re stuck in tight spaces, constantly bumping into eachother and everyone is in a rush so they’re always in a perpetual state of anger- angry people aren’t nice. Their country counterparts on the other hand are, for the most part, fairly polite. In fact the American South is known for their kind manners and hospitality… alongside the Racism and Incest, they’re not perfect.
I remember this Comedian Corey Ryan Forrester was talking about growing up in Georgia and he realised that his school calendar referred to Martin Luther King day as a “Snow day” other schools of course refer to it as “Martin Luther king/ Robert E Lee day” which of course is arguably worse since it’s equating a Civil Rights champion with a Racist General who fought to keep Slavery.
Some of my favourite Comedians are from the American South, they’re self described “Liberal Rednecks” like Trae Crowder and Drew Morgan. Who, as you guessed it, are Rednecks who believe in Liberal policies and social issues.
Now they’re very critical of the South, both Culturally and Politically, but they take grievance at the notion that the South is somehow inherently evil and that they were so unfortunate to live there. Sure, there’s a lot of assholes but there’s also a lot of good decent people- a lot of whom you won’t agree with politically but never the less are very warm and friendly people.
And we ought to come to the realisation that just because someone holds a political belief you disagree with that doesn’t necessarily mean that person is a bad person (unless of course that person is a religious fundamentalist, fascist or straight up ethnic cleanser advocate) most people are quite moderate with their opinions. I’m friends with both Gay people and staunch homophobes, both are decent people and while I really disagree with the latter I can still be civil with them. They don’t want to throw them off rooftops, they’re just uncomfortable with two people of the same sex holding hands.
But for clarity I can’t stand Guys who are vehemently disgusted by Gay men but are fine with Lesbians cause of their goddamn Porn fetish- I’d like some consistency in your bigotry please.
Also just because you agree with someone on a political issue does not mean that they are a person who you would like or that they are in fact a good person- Harvey Weinstein abhores the NRA but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s a goddamn sexual predator.
Then of course there’s the weird scenario in which you’re politically opposed to everything that individual stands for, but at the same time you can get along with them and even become quite friendly- even if that person is critically abhorrent, your interactions with that person could justify a sense of respect.
It’s kind of like how Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly had great respect for one another, despite the fact that Bill is a Serial Sexual Predator. Or like how former senator Al Franken and Lindsay Graham are friends, despite the fact that Lindsay is a Neo-Con War monger. Or like how Mharia Black and Jacob Rees Mogg really like eachother, even though Mogg is physically repulsived by the fact that she’s a Lesbian.
Life is weird like that, I once met a Presbyterian Reverend called David Latimer who was friends with Martin McGuiness, despite the fact that McGuiness was a major player in the IRA.
Personally I’m a lot more sympathetic to the American South than I am to the rest of the nation, because in many ways Northern Ireland is the Bible Belt of the British Isles.
I mean the reason that people are called “Hillbillies” is because the Southern States were colonised by Ulster Scots (Irish people who were the descendants of Scottish Collonizers) many of whom of course were apart of the Orange Order- a sectarian organisation celebrating King William of Orange- or “King Billy” and these colonizers in America typically lived among the hills- hence the name. Rednecks are Northern Ireland’s contribution to America.
Religion plays a keen role in both areas, Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK to outlaw Gay Marriage and Abortion and the American South have repeatedly attempted to erect monuments to the Ten Commandments, in one case a Mayor in Florida passed a law in which they Banned Satan from their town. Their politicians love to act holier than though, Religious fundamentalists despite the fact that many of them are Closet Homosexuals, Sexual Predators or Petty Criminals. Our Politicians are similar, many of them Homophobic adulterers, Pro-Drug Criminalisation despite their links to Drug Dealers and a fierce hatred of the IRA which they constantly bring up, but always seem to fail at acknowledging their own links to paramilitaries.
I think Roy Moore and Ian Paisley would get on like a house on fire, ideally that fire would be in Hell.
There’s obviously a few differences, mainly the Gun Culture and unlike the South, in Northern Ireland the further away you are from the cities and the large towns the less racist you tend to be. Seriously, I’ve overheard Farmers from buck-fuck-nowhere have nuanced and informative discussions on topics such as the Refugee Crisis, while in Derry I’ve overheard two people openly discussing their conspiracy theories revolving around George Soros- one of them happened to be my barber.
In America, and practically everywhere else, it’s different. The people in the cities tend to be less Racist than their country counterparts, granted that doesn’t mean there are no Racists in the City but they’re a minority and a lot more quiet about it compared to their Country Counterparts. This glaring difference between peoples leads to a Country vs City divide, that’s why you’ll find that the cities in the South are far more liberal than the rest of the Rural areas. Little blue islands in an otherwise red sea, but again that’s not so true either. America isn’t as Red or Blue as it is Purple, the purple being the people who aren’t political junkies and have no issue hopping the fence whenever they vote.
I remember volunteering for the Foyle Film Festival and I attended this talk with Jim Sheridan (Director of “In the Name of the Father” and “The Field” and “Get Rich or Die Trying” with 50 Cent) he talked a pile of shite about how JFK’s biggest mistake was to go to the South (He got shot in Houstan, Texas) because it was too racist and politically different than him- so he basically argues that a US President shouldn’t dare venture into a part of his own Country because they dislike him and should have just ignored them all together…you see the issues with that, right?
The most insulting part was when he said that he wouldn’t organise a Film Festival in the South, and that No one in the American Film Industry would even dare to think about doing that because the audience is too different and wouldn’t go for all these Foreign Films and Dramas. I nearly fucking got up and slapped him when he said that. I mean look at this cunt, he’s talking at a Film Festival in a Former Sectarian War-zone- but staging a Film Festival in Atlanta is too unrealistic for him???
Safe to say I didn’t enjoy the talk, and from his reviews its safe to say people don’t really enjoy his movies.
What initially compelled me to write this article was two editorials from the Irish Times, the first one I was quite disappointed by. It was written by Fintan O’Toole, one of my favourite Columnists but he wrote this pathetic shitpile called “No, Taoiseach, Irish values are not American values” in which he responded to Leo Varadkar’s cringe worthy attempts to suck up to Trump.
He took issue with the Taoiseach saying; “American ideas and American values that spread around the world meant that a young boy growing up in Ireland, with an Indian father and an Irish mother, could dream of one day becoming the leader of his country, believing that the time would come when people would be judged on their principles and their ideals, on the content of their character and the quality of the work, and not on their sexuality or the colour of their skin. These are our Irish values today . . . These were American values before they were ours.”
Fintan argues that this whole diatribe is horse shit since Leo’s parents met via the NHS, a Health Service that is fundamentally Anti-American (cause it’s a wee bit Socialist) and Varadkar himself got a Medical Degree that was far cheaper than the American Equivalent- and then of course he lambastes Americas position on Immigration bringing up the classic “They were mean to the Irish, remember?” which of course is true.
I’m always irked by anyone saying “[Insert Group] Values” because that implies that we’re all a hive mind or at the very least have no differentiating opinions from one another whatsoever. A person can refer to their “Christian Values” when discussing why their Pro-Life, but another Christian can be Pro-Choice. It’s the same thing with American Values, what one American can value another American may not- that doesn’t make them less American, it just means they believe in different things.
I mean I’m Irish and I value the importance of a United Ireland, but a person from County Clare may not. That doesn’t mean they’re less Irish than me, they just have different values.
And in all honesty it’s important to remember that the American people is not the American Government. Over 62% of Americans want Free Healthcare, their Government does not- because it’s run by Insurance Lobbyists. Over 60% of Americans want Tuition Free Colleges, their Government does not because the people who fund the Colleges want a return on their investment in the form of tuition fees- turning an Education Platform into a Business.
America is quite divided upon the issue of Immigration but so are lots of other countries, Fintan O’Toole actually criticized Varadkar on showing so much concern for the Illegal Irish Immigrants in America but not the Illegal Immigrants currently in Ireland. the MRCI accused the Government of “hypocrisy” after it voiced strong support for the Irish undocumented in the United States following president Donald Trump’s decision to end the Daca programme which gives temporary legal immigration status to people who arrived in the US illegally as children, noting there was “nothing like Daca in Ireland”.
So we have our own issues with immigration and how we treat immigrants in general, which means that Irish people celebrating this comes off as a little redundant;
The point of course was to remind Irish Americans how it felt to be under the threat of Xenophobia and Racism, which according to many people on Twitter they have sorely forgotten;
Ok, this actually pissed me off. Do you have any idea how many Irish Americans are big time Lefties? Let’s go through the list;
Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Bill Maher, Rose McGowan, Jimmy Fallon, Harrison Ford, George Clooney, Grace Kelly, Ben Affleck, Lisa Kudrow, Joe Biden, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chris Matthews, JFK, Bill Clinton- fucking Barack Obama has Irish descent.
And if you were to argue; “Oh, these are just celebrities- the regular civilians are much worse” then explain how places like New York and Boston, places with the highest level of Irish descendants in the country, voted overwhelmingly for Hilary Clinton in the last Presidential Election?
That brings me to the second editorial, written by a Columnist called Una Mullally, with an aptly named article; “Irish America does not represent modern-day Ireland” which is true. Irish America doesn’t represent Ireland, Ireland represents Ireland.
She talks about the Gay liberation movement in America and how New York used to forbid Gays from attending the St.Patrick’s Day Parade and how the Irish Americans were very Homophobic, which isn’t saying much since practically every ethnic group- especially those who live in poverty and are very religious- are quite homophobic. But because they’re Irish and we have Gay Marriage and a Gay Taoiseach that means we’re better than them.
Which is bullshit, considering that although we’re the first nation to legalize Gay Marriage by Popular Vote- six Northern Counties still make it illegal. Following that up with the fact that the European Court of Human Rights had to force Ireland to decriminalize homosexuality in the first place. In 1988.
Now you could argue that it took so long because of the Catholic Church’s stranglehold on the Irish Government and Society, but that doesn’t excuse it- especially since Super- Duper- Catholic nations like Spain had it decriminalized in 1979 and Italy had it decriminalized almost a Century earlier in 1890.
And do we all understand that having an Openly Gay Taoiseach doesn’t mean we’re not Homophobic? It’s as ludicrous as saying that having a Black President means that America no longer has a problem with Racism.
My point is this; we like to make fun of America, hell, I love making fun of America. But as tempting as it is to feel superior to Americans, we must avoid thinking of them as monoliths. Thinking of people as if they were all connected via a hive mind leads to deadly streams of thought. If you think that all Muslims think like Terrorists then the idea of Syrian Refugees coming here for the sole purpose to kill you becomes much more plausible.
We must not meet Xenophobia, Bitterness and Ignorance with our own Xenophobia, Bitterness and Ignorance. We must meet it with nuance, empathy and kindness- despite how hard it is we must treat people like individuals and avoid at all costs that “Sins of the Father” mentality that torments understanding. We have to remember that the American people and the American Government are not at all the same thing.
America is a very stupid country. Their food is stupid, their movies are stupid, their celebrities are stupid, their politics is irredeemably stupid- but at the same time their delicacies are phenomenal, their films are great, their politics is still stupid- but they have some great politicians, great civil rights activists and great speakers.
For that I think we need to stop looking down on America and start looking at ourselves and where we think we should go, but unfortunately America is very fucking loud so this entire article may prove to be redundant- maybe, but I hope not.