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Gerry Adams' conceit that nationalist suffering is somehow similar to slavery is absurd

By Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 03/05/2016

Gerry Adams is left to face his media inquisitors alone outside Sinn Fein’s headquarters in west Belfast yesterday in the wake of his n-word tweet furore
Gerry Adams is left to face his media inquisitors alone outside Sinn Fein’s headquarters in west Belfast yesterday in the wake of his n-word tweet furore

Gerry Adams is many things, not all of them savoury, but a racist surely isn't one of them. So on hearing that the Sinn Fein leader used the most inflammatory racist epithet of them all on Twitter when describing himself as a "Ballymurphy n*****!", the charitable reaction would be to shrug it off as yet another social media storm prompted by someone famous carelessly saying something silly that they probably didn't mean, or which was taken out of context, or was simply expressed clumsily.

Then came the "apology".

A wiser man would have held up his hands, admitted he'd misspoken, and promised not to do it again, having the humility to accept that this was one day when his job was to shut up for a change and just listen to people with a more nuanced understanding of racial politics as they explained precisely how and why his tweet was unacceptable.

You never know, he might even have learned something. There's a first time for everything.

But this is Gerry Adams we're talking about, so, even in the course of conceding that he was wrong, he also managed to insist that he was right, and that, all things considered, he was the real victim here, adding: "I stand over the substance and the context of the point I was making."

Now, Houston, we really do have a problem, because the "substance" of Adams' argument was actually much more provocative than the n-word itself.

Words can come out badly, especially late at night when you're tired and watching a Quentin Tarantino film whose copious use of the n-word (113 times, to be precise) might easily numb one to its explosive potential to offend.

But if, having had time to reflect, the SF president still believes that it's fitting to claim some shared experience with members of a race whose families were slaves not that long ago, and who still suffer as a result of profound, deep-rooted racism, then he's not taking the experience of African Americans seriously at all, even while congratulating himself on feeling a warm fuzzy glow of solidarity with them.

Instead, he's appropriating their trauma as a political fashion accessory, before deflecting justified criticism of his crassness by doing an Ali G: "Is it because, being Irish, I is sort of black?"

Being Irish isn't remotely comparable to being African American. Growing up in a place where you feel socially, economically and politically disadvantaged isn't the same as slavery. There isn't even a word for Irish people that comes close to being as hateful as "n*****".

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that Gerry Adams has not only failed to "check his privilege", to use the popular phrase, but doesn't seem to be aware that he has it.

Republicans in Northern Ireland have long been known to self-pityingly compare their plight to that of Jews in Nazi Germany, while the SF president has in the past made other spurious parallels between himself and Rosa Parks, who only wanted to sit on the bus, not provide political justification for her comrades to blow it up.

But this latest incident is the most shocking insight yet into the mind of a man with such an inflated sense of victimhood that he is no longer capable of shame.

When men take it upon themselves to explain things condescendingly to women, it's called "mansplaining".

Adams is now effectively "whitesplaining" racism to black people by saying that he's been there too and feels their pain. Most people with an ounce of wit would be respectful enough not to say that out loud, even if they secretly thought it. Black history isn't his to play with.

The chorus of criticism won't make the slightest difference, of course, because, if there's one thing that can be said about Adams, it's that he just doesn't get it.

Whether sending a book to his niece dedicated to the man who abused her, or tweeting defiantly about his "sexiness" in the middle of a sexual abuse controversy, or pledging to "break" unionist "bastards", his response is invariably the same.

He blames those who call him out on his revealing blunders, rather than himself for making them.

It's always a plot by his enemies to misrepresent him and sabotage the party. This latest incident can be added to the long list of "Things That Gerry Gets Away With That Would Finish Off The Leader Of Any Normal Party". I

f supporters of Sinn Fein don't want to be regarded as members of a cult, they should stop playing the part so obediently by turning on everyone who dares to notice when west Belfast's answer to Kim Jong-Il disgraces himself once again.

Is there literally nothing anymore that Gerry Adams can do that they won't defend or excuse?

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