Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The G8 leaders are here because we're still Here

Barack Obama: we own him
Barack Obama: we own him

One of the many irritating features of Northern Ireland is our passion for lecturing other countries. Our unions gathering at City Hall to indulge in anti-Semitic diatribes and pro-terrorism causes elsewhere contrasts with the equally thick 'plague on all your houses' approach they bring to domestic politics.

The point missed by so many people who congregated in Belfast's Botanic Gardens at the weekend and threw a party to protest against starvation – yes, I don't get it either – is that the world leaders meeting in Enniskillen yesterday and today aren't here because they are seeking out some haven of tranquillity to hide out from righteous protesters.

They are in Northern Ireland out of charity. Not because we are a model of peacemaking and right thinking. But because we remain a pariah in the world of civilised nations, because of how we butchered one another. They are here as part of our normalisation.

Attaching to the rather modest parade in Belfast city centre on Saturday was the usual gang of tiny pressure groups and disaffected mobsters, whose own racism is so comically transparent they don't realise that to barrack Barack Obama when Vladimir Putin is in town requires an explanation the outcome of which will not be savoury to read. Especially when it is his country – the one which bankrolls famine and disaster relief worldwide – which takes the bulk of the vocal abuse.

And his traitors who are lauded.

But that's because our protesters here are discreet, polite, decent fascists. If it's big issues that intrigue us, if it's global matters which exercise our conscience now we don't have to hide behind convenient paramilitary proxies who do our murdering for us, we are deliciously selective in our opprobrium. Mugabe, that dark angel of the left for 40 bloody years, overturns democracy yet again in Zimbabwe but no protesters pass the tin around for his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai.

Turkey in disarray? Not a single open-toed sandal has taken to the streets in support of those with western ambitions in Istanbul and no mustering in support of the call for a general strike.

Confirmation of Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people? Not a peep from the righteous.

Wrong causes. Wrong workers. Wrong people. Wrong countries.

Much better for the Chelsea tractor communists of south Belfast to demonise 'Cameron' and 'Obama' than have any view at all on Putin or Francois Hollande.

No. We live in a country which has no name – referred to in some places consistently as 'the north'; or simply as 'north' – as in 'North house prices on the rise again'. And by others as simply 'Here', as in 'There is Team USA, Team GB, Team Ireland, we need Team, er, Here'. We live in a country where, only two weeks ago, we passed a law to keep killers out of government but only unelected ones. We have 'commentators' who talk about sectarianism and wag fingers at democratic leaders of countries which have prayed nightly for decades to their God in thanks that they didn't have people like us living within their borders.

We have a country of sectarians but it seems they never write columns or work in broadcasting or teach in schools or be anyone we really know and like. Sectarians are always on the other side. Simple. Except they're not. The sectarians are us. The people who should know better but don't, the people who are educated, well-off, well-paid, well-heeled and who still have no friends from the other side. People who always exclude themselves from the diagnosis of poison because, don't be ridiculous, I am a nice person. And so are all my friends.

We have pundits who shake their head at our government because 'the state is sectarian'; so that even when the IRA and the DUP is in a power-sharing agreement, it is still a poisoned state. The IRA, absurdly, becomes for these people, a guardian of British 'divide-and-rule' politics. Yes, that's the IRA, that is. For others – especially the so-called new unionists – the DUP have sold the pass on the union. Yes, that's the DUP, that is.

And the liberal salad crunchers, those who can never find a party to represent their sophisticated and highly refined political views so who fall back on Alliance, actually stumble into the norms of dissident analysis. Listen to them, the next time you can stick it.

They will be the people arguing for the police to beat people off the streets, except when the people are on the right side.

The discreet, polite, decent fascists of, er, here.

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