Is it insulting?

During the week I wrote a post on an article Kevin Myers’ wrote in the Irish Times. Originally I was somewhat shocked by the nature of the article, and wrote a post criticising the logical leaps and outright nonsense in the piece.

But the more I read the article the more I am angered by it. Myers is making some very serious statements. Out of curiosity I looked up the terms of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. Here is the quote from the Statute Books, its definition of hatred is:

“hatred” means hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation;

The terms are:

It shall be an offence for a person—
( a ) to publish or distribute written material,
( b ) to use words, behave or display written material—
(i) in any place other than inside a private residence, or
(ii) inside a private residence so that the words, behaviour or material are heard or seen by persons outside the residence,
or
( c ) to distribute, show or play a recording of visual images or sounds,
if the written material, words, behaviour, visual images or sounds, as the case may be, are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred.

Is what Myers says “threatening, abusive or insulting” and “likely to stir up hatred”. I would say, at the very least, the words could be construed as insulting. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly Myers does say. I will highlighted sentences I believe to be abusive or insulting – either to a religion or group of people – and could certainly not be hyperbole.

Phrases such as “mealy-mouthed evasions and vapid pieties”, “the reactionary, learn-nothing left” are typical Myers polemic, that really add nothing to the argument – in fact having to insult the other side is a typical sign of losing the argument. Myers often resorts to insults, it takes away from any point he is trying to make. He goes on:

Now, finally, life has been good to us. So what kind of Ireland do we want in 50 years? Go back half-a-century and ask the people in Britain what they envisaged for their country. Who in 1954 would have thought that by 2004 places such as Burnley, Bradford, Preston, Huddersfield, would be nearly 50 per cent Muslim, as they now are? No one; indeed, even to have suggested such a possibility then, or over the next 20 years, would have invited the wrath of the ideologically pro-immigration left, with righteous denunciations of scaremongering racism.

What is Myers actually saying here? Is he saying that towns of nearly 50% Muslims are a bad thing? Is he saying that it is a goof thing? Neither really, but he makes a point later on that indicates something else.

Comparable demographics apply across much of mainland Europe, where there has been a rise of virulent anti-Semitism, largely centred within the immigrant Muslim communities.

So Muslims in Europe are largely to blame for anti-Semitism? Firstly is that true, and secondly is there not also a rise in anti-muslim sentiment within right-wing groups in Europe?

Nor is the issue solely one of importing the virus of anti-Semitism through the millions of Islamic immigrants. Muslim communities in Britain have so far produced three suicide bombers and 1200 volunteers for Taliban/Al-Qeada terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Moreover, in an opinion poll last year, 13 per cent of British Muslims said they supported the 9/11 attacks.

I actually believe that poll was done this year, but I’ll check it out. It is curious but 87% of Muslims did not support the attacks. And in polls such as that, I would imagine many people would say they supported the attacks – but would never actually physically do anything in support of them. So actually one could say that the vast majority of Muslims did not support the attacks – the same being through of non-Muslims.

Now I think we can reach the crux of Myer’s argument.

So, more immigrants, more diversity, will make Ireland a more interesting place. Good. We agree on that. But steady there. Who actually wants Athlone or Portlaoise, 50 years hence, to be what Preston, Bradford, Huddersfield are now? What happens if the children of immigrants insist on retaining the cultural norms of their parents’ homeland? Where stands multiculturalism when an immigrant culture demands the right to slice off teenage girls’ vulvas? Or insists on arranged marriages in childhood? Or the honour-killing of daughters who do not do their fathers’ bidding? Racism! This will never happen here! Will it not?

There it is. What he is actually saying is “who wants Muslims living in Irish towns”. In fact he is saying who wants Muslims in Ireland – period. Then he asks “what happens if the Muslims who come here behave like Musims”. By phrasing his sentences in the form of questions he is avoiding stating what he might actually believe – that he does not want towns where 50% of the population are Muslims. Is that a racist comment? Is it “likely to stir up hatred”? It could be argued that such sentiment might stir up hatred of Muslims and Muslim communities. It also demonstrates something else – fear.

To his conclusion, where he attempts to qualify his questionable remarks on Muslim communities, by saying:

No doubt, most Muslims will be what most Muslims are today – hard-working and law-abiding, and will be a cultural and intellectual asset.

Most Muslims did not support 9/11. If what Myers says here is true, then I really don’t know why he is so fearful of Muslims. Are the Muslims he talks about here the same Muslims that will keep their ‘cultural norms’, i.e. Islam, and ask for halal meet in the local butcher?

What’s the crux here? He appears to be saying that he does want Muslims in, then he doesn’t, then he only wants some, but not the unsavoury part. Yes we love Muslims, but we don’t want the suicide bombers.

Dick O’Brien pointed out that the same argument could be applied to Irish communites in Britain over the last few decades. A fringe element were bombers, intent on destruction, while the rest were “hard-working”. And they brought with them strange customs, at least strange to the Protestant majority, of believing virgin births and magical transformations of wine and bread into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

So how to sum up? Myers says

a) Do we want Muslims in Ireland in 50 years?
b) Muslims bring strange customs and beliefs, should we let them in?
c) Some Muslims will be fundamentalist
d) The customs of Muslims, such as arranged marriages, mean that immigration to Britain is now “unstoppable”.
e) We must stop people coming into Ireland, even though most genuinely want to work
f) In 50 years Irish Muslims might be fundamentalist

Perhaps the correct authority could decide on whether Myers’ article falls into the category of inciting hatred.

4 thoughts on “Is it insulting?”

  1. Gavin, for once I find myself in disagreement with Kevin Myers and I think he is wrong on his main point but I find it distasteful, especially considering your own recent contretemps with John Gray’s lawyer, to read you calling for the authorities to investigate him. Rubbish his column, “fisk” away but think twice if you really relish an activist “correct authority” to police “correct” speech.

  2. You must be mental to want to turn Ireland into a sewer. You’re clearly racist against white Irish, otherwise you wouldn’t want this group replaced by other groups. Sad, show some pride. You’re the type that would have allowed the British to keep Ireland, somehow condoning it as not that bad, or on some bizarre viewpoint that it would be somehow “racist” to kick the English out. Sad person you are…. wow.

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