The awful Amnesty Pence disco flop

Sometimes when RTÉ News covers a protest it deems worthy, the camera work gives the game away. Amnesty’s cringe-worthy disco to protest against Mike Pence was a case in point this week.

Despite plenty of advance notice of this marvellous opportunity to protest the awfulness of the Trump administration, almost no-one bothered to show up.

There were flashy disco balls, stripy flags, and placards with multiple messages but so few dancers that the disco didn’t need to move off the pavement. The handful who did arrive in their best dancing shoes shuffled awkwardly about, wearing bizarre cardboard Mike Pence masks.

It seems that that despite the non-stop hysteria about Trump from the Irish wokerati, not that many people actually think that the Vice President is so evil that they need to protest his visit to Ireland.

Of course, that didn’t stop the media giving the event extensive and wholly positive coverage. Nobody mentioned the miserable turnout, since that might have punctured the indefatigable efforts of the establishment to persuade everyone that liberal intolerance is the prevailing and only permissible view in this new, shiny and progressive Ireland.

In fact, the Irish Examiner gamely tried to put a whole different spin on the fiasco, claiming the protesters “turned out in force” to “shine a light on an agenda of hate”. This is the kind of daft hyperbole that has become the norm in Irish journalism these days.

The Irish Times said the disco “drew a crowd” and listed a plethora of organisations involved including Amnesty, Extinction Rebellion, the Union of Students of Ireland, Dublin LGBTQ Pride,  the ICCL, the Irish Refugee Council, the Young Greens and “other activist groups”. Even with the full staff cohort of that long list of organisations attending, the gig didn’t manage to draw 100 people. Maybe some of them bunked off to go shopping.

But the camera doesn’t lie, even if tries.

RTE, the public broadcaster who is looking for an increase in the €190 million it already receives annually from the hard-pressed taxpayer, posted a video report on Amnesty’s disco.

Most of the shots in the report were super-close-up or featured two flags fluttering in the wind. This is what you use to illustrate a protest when the crowd shot would just embarrass the crowd.

Now, in fairness, it doesn’t really matter what kind of turnout Amnesty gets at its daft disco against Mike Pence. At this stage they have absolutely no credibility as genuine human rights defenders.

In the last week, for example, Amnesty Ireland posted dozens of giddy tweets about Pence, and precisely one tweet about protesters getting beaten into the ground in Hong Kong. The main issue that seems to concern the organisation now is ensuring that babies can be killed before they are even born.

Ever since Amnesty changed its policy to campaign for abortion it has been losing members, support and, worst of all, its purpose – the mission for which it was founded. You can’t claim to be a human rights protector and then lead campaigns to end the lives of innocent children. This makes no sense. As human rights abuses go, dismembering children must be one of the worst infringements possible. And as innocent victims go, unborn babies who can’t even raise their own eyes to defend themselves must be the most helpless victims imaginable.

Amnesty’s unswerving support for abortion has caused the organisation in Ireland to oppose the right to protest, a cornerstone of Amnesty’s mission – and even to argue against the right of doctors to freedom of conscience, the whole reason for Amnesty’s foundation by Peter Benenson in 1961.

Straying so far from their mission might yet prove to be a costly mistake, as parent group Amnesty International has now announced it expects a £17million shortfall in its budget for 2020, necessitating redundancies for more than 10% of staff. This comes on the heels of a major audit and review of the organisation which found it had a “toxic” working environment where staff felt bullied and intimidated.

There are some things that even disco heels and glitter balls won’t compensate for.

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