C: Gript

If the East Wall was middle class, would it be called “far right”?

Did you know that, in Ireland, there are two kinds of objection that a person might make to an unwelcome development in their area? Which one it is depends, almost entirely, on whether your area is middle class or working class.

Let us begin with the case of Josepha Madigan, Ireland’s Minister for Culture and the Arts and making middle class people feel superior. This is a leaflet she circulated to constituents in 2015, opposing the construction of a halting site for travellers in the impeccably middle class area of Stillorgan, in her constituency. “A Waste of Valuable Resources”, says she:

Now, let’s be frank: The good people of Stillorgan are many things, but they are not penny pinchers. Those who suspect that the objection to traveller accommodation in the area was truly that the cost was simply too high are, I’d argue, deluding themselves. No, what we have here is that classic of the genre: But of course we support more accommodation for travellers, but this area wouldn’t be suitable.

Anyway, we all know what was going on there. When it comes to Ireland’s middle classes, Ireland’s politicians find reason after reason to excuse and cloak genuine bigotry as something else – something more noble.

But what of our working classes? Consider these three reactions to the events this week in East Wall, and see if you can spot what they have in common:

If you didn’t spot it, here it is: In all three cases, the hapless people of East Wall are being manipulated. The Taoiseach seems to think that the local residents are unwitting pawns of Vladimir Putin. The local Fine Gael Councillor thinks Donald Trump is inspiring events. The idiot Social Democrat is certain that the locals are pawns of the dastardly “far right”.

To understand this, you must understand the attitude: The Irish media and establishment genuinely – very genuinely – does not understand that it is legitimately possible to have an alternative view on an issue like immigration to the one they hold without the person expressing the view being one of two things: Stupid, or evil.

The “Evil” is easy enough to spot: Vladmir Putin is evil. Donald Trump, it is agreed, is evil. The “far right” are evil.

But what of ordinary people who express these views?

Ordinary people cannot be classed as evil. That would be to go against the entire mythology of the Irish state, which has always held dear to the notion that it exists because of a rebellion of the ordinary people against the hated British Empire. All our politicians brag that they represent ordinary people. The ordinary people cannot be wrong.

But they can, of course, be misled, and seduced, by evil.

And so if you are an ordinary person from the East Wall, or anywhere else, and you are at an anti immigration protest, you cannot by definition truly believe it. You are simply the victim of some dark force which has penetrated the uneducated fog of your brain and twisted you to their plots.

The irony here, of course, is that Ireland – and especially Dublin’s – working class communities are vastly more tolerant and multicultural than those places where our ruling classes live. There are many more migrant families living happily in the East Wall than there are in Foxrock. Historically, working class communities have been vastly more welcoming places for newbies than the leafier suburbs have been. But all of that counts for nothing, to our betters, once you speak up and say you’ve had enough.

Then, you’re too stupid to understand. Too woolly-headed to see through the fog generated by “the far right”.

There’s a pattern here, and you see it elsewhere: Consider the “Hate Speech” laws currently being brought in, for a moment, if you’ll indulge me.

The whole premise of hate speech laws is that words can induce people to hate migrants, or gay people, or trans people, or women, or whoever it may be. But ask yourself, who is it that will be induced to this hate?

Do we think that, to pick random examples, Hazel Chu and Ivana Bacik would ever hear a speech from some radical, denouncing immigration, and suddenly feel inspired to hate migrants? Of course not. Hazel and Ivana are much too smart to fall for anything like that. They don’t need protection from hate speech because they’re smart and educated enough to see through it.

The people who they think are dumb enough to “hate” are… people like the residents of the east wall. Stupid people. Uneducated people. People not smart enough to make up their own minds and distinguish between hate and not-hate.

This is, as I wrote last week, the animating belief of the Irish ruling class: You’re too dumb. You drink too much. You smoke too much. You don’t do enough for the climate. You hate migrants. You didn’t go to University. You can’t be trusted around women. You can’t be trusted with your local area. You can’t be trusted with free speech.

It is elitism, and in Ireland, elitism is out of control.

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