A ‘tide of silliness’

Ireland is not a particularly radical country. Despite its much lauded passing of a referendum last year which opened the institution of marriage to homosexual couples, its electorate has shown itself to be a fairly conservative one. That vote was passed more on a wave of sentiment cooked up by a powerfully funded lobby and a notoriously biased media rather than by any deeply thought-out radicalism. The same electorate in a general election this year thrashed its socialist Labour Party and sent its fellow-travelling coalition partners, the Fine Gael Party, limping back into parliament. It took it longer to form a makeshift minority government than on any other occasion in the history of the state.

The frustrating thing about Ireland is that while it is at heart conservative, it is pathologically ashamed of being so. It has no popular conservative media voices, no political party which is not terrified of being called conservative, and the left-wing minority in the country have organised themselves in the media so that conservative voices are immediately either mocked or intimidated when they speak. 

A few voices are heard in the media which question this unthinking subservience to the left in Irish public opinion and one of them was heard this weekend in the Sunday Independent. This was the voice of columnist Eilis O’Hanlon writing about Ireland’s strange attitude to the United States of America.

Donald Trump is certainly an unusual presidential candidate – if he succeeds in becoming the Republican choice. His speeches and comments have on occasion, on many occasions, appeared to defy rational analysis. But that defiance bears no comparison to the irrationality of the fear and ill-boding generated by the response to his candidacy. Nowhere is this more prevalent that in Ireland.

O’Hanlon writes of the rising tide of silliness which has allowed Salon magazine to compare the growing popularity of Trump to that of Hitler in the Weimar Republic, and connects this to an artificial row in Ireland last week around whether government ministers would or should meet him when he visits his golf club at Doonbeg in Co. Clare in a few weeks. 

She is not surprised by any of this. Why not? She explains:

She writes that Richard Boyd Barrett, leftest of the leftists, speaking in the Dail on the issue, had hit on the one topic that tickles the fancy of every middle-class social justice warrior – the iniquity of the United States “war machine”. They’re as obsessed with America as Sinn Fein is with the Brits, and even they’ve toned down the rhetoric these days, having learned that it doesn’t travel outside the republican heartland. She continues:

The Left doesn’t need to bother, because, as Barrett said in the Dail: “Everybody recognises what a dangerous man Donald Trump is.”

Well, obviously not everybody, or he wouldn’t be running neck-and-neck with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the polls, but certainly everybody who matters in Irish public opinion.

People in this country have always had an innate bias towards democratic presidents, from John Kennedy onwards. If we had a vote, Hillary would be the runaway winner.

It’s still worth examining how “dangerous” Donald Trump really is, however. Taking 1993, the year that Mrs Clinton’s husband first took office, as a base, what dangerous things has Donald Trump done in the intervening years?

Let’s see. He presented The Apprentice. He bought, and later sold, the Miss Universe organisation. He built Trump Tower. He launched Trump Ice bottled water. He bought some golf courses. He was inducted into the World Wrestling Federation Hall of Fame. He appeared on Sex And The City.

In the same period, for her part, Hillary Clinton was fully supportive at her husband’s side as he launched bombing raids in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yugoslavia; as a senator, she backed war in Afghanistan and Iraq; as Secretary of State under President Obama, she pushed hard for the so-called “Afghanistan surge” and was a key mover for the failed US intervention in Libya which exacerbated the migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean.

Whether she was right or wrong to take these positions is not the point (Clinton herself later said that her support for the Iraq War was a mistake). The point is that Hillary is, by any reckoning, a hawk when it comes to military action, whereas Trump is a businessman who has never signed a single order for any action that led to bloodshed.

Yet it’s he who is called “reckless”, “dangerous”, “terrifying”, frightening”, despite also saying the US has “destabilised the Middle East”, berating the coalition forces for lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and using Libya as a warning against further action in Syria.

Many of the remarks he’s made about US foreign policy and Nato could have come from People Before Profit.

So who’s the real “warmonger” – Trump or Clinton?

Read her Sunday Independent article here.

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