Trump’s #Charlottesville reaction highlights the need to stop using ‘left’ and ‘right’ to describe political spectrum

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

Before I start on the theme of this article, have you ever seen a US president more obsessed with his predecessor?  It has gotten to a stage where he just throws his name into his statements without any real context.

Anyway…you have no doubt read volumes on what happened in Charlottesville and it is not my wish to delve too much further into the horrific events, at least not here.

What I want to point out is something I feel is crucial for the progressive platform to gain more followers, and it is a very simple one.

Rumour has it that human civilisation once believed premises like the earth being the centre of the universe, or at other times that it was a flat plain as opposed to a spherical planet.  Maybe such misconceptions don’t effect people’s everyday life, but then again it’s hard to have a philosophical grasp on existence when you don’t even have the fundamentals correct.

So what I’d like to challenge is the way we label political ideologies as ‘left’ and ‘right’, because it suggests some kind of balance between the two.  On the most basic level, what we call the left represents a society that is fair to everyone while the right does not.

But to properly understand where the conflict comes from you first must appreciate how it started.  Whether you believe in evolution or creation, there must have existed a time when the human race had no elitism.  Then as it became clear that certain resources were more valuable than others, some people took control of them and were selective about those with whom they were shared.

Over time those who had control over the resources got better and better at holding on to that power.  Countries with tyrannical leaders simply run roughshod over their opposition, while those which claim to be democracies use a variety of tools to make sure elections go the way of the ruling classes.

Donald Trump became president on the back of one of these tools, ie supporting a specific group of voters he felt could help get him elected; in this case middle to lower class white men who felt that the civil rights movement had somehow discriminated against them.

Because this movement provided votes for the Republican party, it is considered to be on the ‘right’.  And because the obvious racist and fascist leanings of this movement, it has become fashionable to label them as ‘alt-right’.  Even with this distinction though, the fact that it is called any kind of ‘right’ seems to lend it equal status to whatever is called the ‘left’.

As the mainstream media fully supports the left-right paradigm, the President can claim, however wrongly, that he is being fair to ‘all sides’.

What we who have been shoved on the ‘left’ of this pseudo-spectrum must do is renounce it.  A society that purports to be fair to all citizens is not half the argument.  It is the only one.   Of course we won’t all agree on how it is to be achieved, but given we believe in fairness, chances are the discussions are going to be devoid of such words as ‘fire and fury’.

Anyone who feels they have to ‘tone down’ their views to somehow ‘be fair’ and ‘not exclude the conservative opinion’ is basically validating the very argument that conservatives want.

The white men who marched on Charlottesville are bigots.  Nothing they feel was ‘taken from them’ was really theirs in the first place.  To offer them any sense of legitimacy is not being fair, it’s not being balanced.  It is turning back the clock on American society to a time when the ruling classes needed only the crudest, most basic tools to hold on to power, as opposed to the more intricate ones they use today.

Progressives need to stop allowing themselves to be defined by a scale that doesn’t really exist.

#IANWAE

 

 

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It’s not about Jobstown, Paul Murphy nor Joan Burton. It’s about what side you’re on.

The date was September 17, 2016.  I got the Luas with my wife and our two young children to Heuston Station, which was one of the meeting places for the latest Right2Water march.  We all set off towards the centre of town, and there were thousands gathered in just our section and the various groups from around the city were to converge at St Stephens Green.  

As we walked along the quays, I’d say it was probably around Ormond Quay, a man walked up to my wife as she pushed the buggy carrying our then 17-month old daughter and stuck a microphone in her face.  Behind him was a cameraman with his device pointing at her.

“So why are you marching today?”

“I don’t want to talk.”

“But I thought you cared about water changes?  Why are you marching then if you don’t want to talk about it?”

To be clear, I am paraphrasing the man, but that is definitely the gist of the exchange.

Needless say I wanted to throw him into the Liffey.  On a more sensible level, I wanted to give him a piece of my mind.  My wife does not feel comfortable in those situations.  And why should she.  All she wanted to do to lend her support for something she believed in was march, and it is as much her right not to talk as it is to talk.

How dare you confront a peaceful protester in this manner?  Would you not at least ask permission for the interview first?  Identify yourself and the broadcaster or publication for whom you are reporting first?  This is what I wanted to say to the man.  But I knew it wouldn’t come out that way so I took her hand and led her away from him.

I don’t want to give the impression that I go to these marches all the time.  That’s not because I’d be ashamed if I did, in fact it’s more to the contrary…I’m ashamed that I had somehow managed to be elsewhere each and every time such activism was going on, no matter how much I believed in a particular cause.  My “excuse” for the past year or so has been that I have been more interested in the US Presidential campaign plus my online time has been taken up by running a monetised sports blog.

None of that really matters, though.  You either show up for events like this or you don’t.  And on this day I honestly thought showing up was enough.  I should have been more prepared for a moment like this one.  I should have known to confront this asshole with a clear head and using accurate language to give him a proper soundbite and I should have also known to use my phone to record my own words as well.

Anyway, here’s my point that relates that incident above to this article.  

Do you believe my recollection of what happened?  Or do you think I’m exaggerating the reporter’s aggressiveness and/or lack of professionalism for the sake of the cause I was marching for?  Your honest answer to that question is very important when it comes to contemporary Irish politics.

Something else happened to me on the day of that protest.  As we waited at Heuston Station for the march to start, I was handed a placard.  I looked at it. It read “Jobstown Not Guilty”.  I handed it back to the man.

The reason I wouldn’t take it was not that I was opposed to the Jobstown cause, rather that on this particular day, while I did know about the incident in question involving then-Tánaiste Joan Burton, I was unaware of the specifics of the pending legal case, and also the organisation to back the defendants.  

Basically I didn’t want to be going around with my children holding a placard for a cause I knew little about.  And truth be told, in the short amount of time between receiving the placard and handing it back, I didn’t have time to check whether or not it was somehow connected to Sinn Féin, which was my greatest fear.

Since then of course, I have gotten to know more and more about the #JobstownNotGuilty cause.  Again because of other distractions, I never managed to get too involved in the activism, but you can be sure I was delighted when the defendants were found not guilty at the end of June.

Was the delight down to my thoughts on the actual events which transpired on that fateful day in Jobstown in November 2014?  Of course not.  I wasn’t there.  My delight stems from the fact that this was way, way more than a court case.  This was actually the coal face of modern Irish society.  People’s approach to the topic could not illustrate more where they stand with regard to the “haves vs have-nots” nature of public opinion these days.

And am I a fan of Paul Murphy?  I can’t answer.  I don’t know the guy personally.  But I do know that he was elected by the people of Dublin South-West on a ticket which couldn’t more clearly define his mandate if it tried : “Anti Austerity Alliance”.

I have certainly read multiple attempts to smear him though.   Like this op-ed by Philip Ryan in the Irish Independent over the weekend.

Paul Murphy really fancies himself as Ireland’s modern day Nelson Mandela with a megaphone

Here’s a thought…instead of slagging the man off for his megaphone, why not ask yourself why he feels the need to use it?  Or better still…give him the megaphone YOU’RE using.  Let HIM write a piece in the Indo and let your readers form their own opinion?  

No – it’s much easier to hide behind your column and slag the man off along with half-truths and tenuous associations.

And while we’re on that subject…a few points.  The pro-establishment media are very concerned with the fact that a water balloon was thrown.  So much so, they make it sound like it was a Molotov cocktail.  If that’s the extent of the violence that took place, then that’s surely enough to question the general narrative for starters.

They are also very concerned with the fact that Joan Burton is a woman.  Why?  She was the Tánaiste at the time.  It shouldn’t matter a jot what gender she is.  There was nowhere near this level of hysteria when President Higgins had a similar in-car experience a couple of months later, although the mainstream coverage was still very much anti-protester.

And as for “kidnapping”, well that one’s easy.  The court has decided it wasn’t.  Therefore it wasn’t.

But we had the ultimate side-taking just recently in the Dáil by our new Taoiseach.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fnewstalkfm%2Fvideos%2F10156467130447907%2F&show_text=1&width=560

Asked by Deputy Murphy if there would be a public inquiry into false statements made by gardaí throughout the course of the trial, Varadkar replied thus…

Deputy, you had a fair trial…

…so we’d best leave it at that.”  Had that been the Taoiseach’s point, even it it meant brushing Murphy off on the Garda thing, I would have understood to an extent.   Remember…“Taoiseach” is supposed to mean “leader”, and one every bit as much of the people who voted for Murphy as those who voted for Fine Gael.

But he couldn’t resist going on…

…you were acquitted, but that doesn’t mean that your behaviour was right.  And it may well be the case that you weren’t engaged in kidnapping, but it was thuggery.

…and his good buddies at BlueshirtFM, aka Newstalk, were on hand to provide plenty of “huzzah!” for his clearly biased opinion.  No fear of asking a Solidarity representative on to provide some kind of balance.

The Jobstown trial and all the pro-establishment opinion surrounding it is not about what took place that day.  It was about framing the narrative of Irish political discourse.  The country was brought to its knees by the actions of the government, the banking sector and the construction sector and one by one the public are expected to pick up the tab.

Whatever you may think about Paul Murphy, he is merely the latest focal point for the establishment to attack through various means.  If it wasn’t him it would be someone like Brendan Ogle.   Or Mick Wallace.  Or Ruth Coppinger.  Or Clare Daly.  The way this country is set up right now, it’s remarkably easy for those either wishing to suck up to the establishment or afraid to appear “too left” to play the man (or woman!!!) instead of the ball.

And what is the ball?  It’s the true political discussion, one that is not being had anywhere it matters.  It’s not about Fianna Fáil vs Fine Gael.  It’s not even about “haves” vs “have nots”, at least not precisely.

It’s about three distinct groups….those who speak for the “haves”, those who speak for the “have nots” and the most important of all, those burying their heads in the sand, making countless excuses for not getting involved.  Much like I tend to do.  At least I find the odd hour or two to voice my opinion here, though that of course is nowhere near enough.  JLP

Follow the Jobstown Not Guilty Facebook page here

#IANWAE

A view on the Jobstown trial by Keego

Editor’s note – Apologies once more for this site remaining idle for so long…demand from other projects has been too strong of late.  We will get back to it soon.  In the meantime we are grateful to Keego for offering this post.  We have our own take on the Jobstown trial here at FPP and we hope to post on it soon.


 

I had planned on taking the summer off from furiously writing down thoughts on various topics. The plan was to be thought free for a few months as thinking about and reading the news was overloading my already fragile brain.

There was a Trump, a Brexit and a commissioner who appeared to enjoy her commisionary position a bit too much and is willing to do anything to keep it. But there was one issue that made me reach for my vintage dell Netbook (not my best investment) to vent and ask you your opinion on the topic and that was the trial of the jobstown 7. These were a group of people who protested against then Tanaiste and all round unlikable person, Joan Burton.

The coverage of this trial annoyed me, the way the protest was organised annoyed me and nearly everyone involved in the protest on both sides annoyed me. So I thought I would vent into your brain in the hope that you could either correct or agree with me.

Firstly, before we get started, a little about myself might help. I am pro protest. It is healthy and when used correctly, massively effective in sending a message to government. And I think that is where we start. From the moment the news hit the stations about an ongoing protest in Jobstown in Tallaght, it appeared to be an unorganised mess.

When a protest is organised it is near unstoppable. When something is unstoppable then things change. No doubt that there is a massive list of things that need to change in Irish politics, and this could have been a massive dent in that list.

Instead, the people surrounded Burtons car and shouted abuse at her, banged on her windows and all round intimidated her. There are pictures of her smiling in the car, but that is irrelevant. There is zero context to that photo, was it at the start of the protest? People sat down in front of her car not allowing it to move off. This is beyond stupid. If I sit down in front of a car of someone I don’t like, I get run over.

The garda siochana arrived and this is where it gets a bit murky. Aside from locking an old lady in a car and shouting abuse at her, the Garda were limited in what they could do. The geography of the area meant that the way out of this situation necessitated moving the Tánaiste into another vehicle. With the crowd at fever pitch, she felt that this would be unsafe.

And that is the first point. Whether you think that Joan Burton could have opened the car door and walked out or not is not the issue. She did not feel she would have been safe enough to do so. This is a logical response to being shouted at and intimidated for the preceding time.

I had a conversation with someone on twitter about the above point. He stated to me that she could have left anytime she wanted to, she just had to ask the Garda for help. Maybe I have been hit in the head too many times, but if I need to ask a Garda for help to get out of my car then there is a safety issue in progress, or is that a bit unfair of me?

The entire protest was leaded by Paul Murphy of the People Before Profit/Solidarity/Will protest for headlines party. Megaphone in hand he chanted slogans that riled up the crown and made any chance of a quick and safe ending to this protest a near impossibility.

Skipping forward a bit to the outcome. There are 2 massive issues arising from this. Firstly the government went full on in chasing the people who organised it. Dawn raids where a semi regular occurrence for a time. Nothing good happens at dawn as we all know! When the Garda go in heavy handed like this it plays into the hands of the protestors. Immediately, anyone who is hearing the news asks ‘what are the Gardaí/government trying to hide/cover up’. Again this is a healthy response. Even with my dislike for Murphy there was never any need to knock on his door at dawn. It was done for headlines, it was done to send a message and it makes the Garda/Govt look exactly the same as the people they are chasing.

That being headline hunters.

It comes to pass that the Garda who were there on the day of the protest couldn’t get their stories straight, or couldn’t remember the same story at the same time. As soon as this happens the case gets so filthy that the Jobstown 7 where always going to walk free. And in walking free became martyrs/celebrities for the left. This was what made me write this piece. I would be a left leaning person, I believe in taking care of everyone, I believe in being fiscally conservative but I also believe in having a plan. Murphy et al do not have a plan that works. They have tremendous sound bites, tremendous slogans but nothing of substance that will help anyone.

This protest shows the bad judgement of Murphy. Instead of planning, even if this was off the cuff he should have planned ahead. He was happy to stand by while people locked an old lady in a car and shouted abuse at her. Imagine if instead of that, they lined the streets and slowly turned their back on the Tánaiste, in silence. That would have been power and would have made for footage that would be shared on social media for years. Instead they acted like the kids in Berkley College when someone they don’t agree with comes to speak.

If you don’t believe in your beliefs enough to put them forward in an adult way then you are just a dreamer without a plan.

So, with the Jobstown 7 walking free. This means that protesters can shout/spit/imprison people who do not agree with them. It means you can say anything you want to anyone and have no repercussions.  It means that it is not about the idea, it is about the force and loudness with which you shout yours out.

This is not a good thing. This is not what Ireland should be about in 2017.

In closing I would like to repeat. I think protesting is the most powerful tool we have as citizens, especially with the voting system the way it is. But we need to be smart, we need to be productive in the protesting. It is not about who is the loudest, it is about who has the best idea for this country.

Please share this with Murphy and his party, I would welcome an opportunity to speak to him about it. I’ll even buy the coffee. I am not saying this so I can shout at the lad, I genuinely want to understand his thinking because it is so far away from mine, even though we would both be called loony lefties!

Do tag me in the sharing of this post @nkeegan on twitter

Can you dispute any of these ten points as basic human rights?

1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FREE.
2. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HEALTHY.
3. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE BRILLIANT.
4. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SAFE.
5. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE LOVED.
6. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE COURAGEOUS.
7. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE ALIVE.
8. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE TRUSTED.
9. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE EDUCATED.
10. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

What is your reaction to those ten points?

  1. Is it something like  – “Yes, they all make sense.”
  2. Or is it something like – “No, that’s bullshit.”
  3. Or is it something like – “Hmmm….tell me what the source is first?”

If it is the second one, fine.  Off you go.  You’re welcome to this site, but you probably won’t find anything you want here.

If it’s the third one, fine – here’s the source.

Now you know the source, is your answer 1 or 2?

Just a thought for the day.  Hat-tip to The Edge of Sports podcast.

Sorry we haven’t been posting much lately.  We hope to get back to it soon.  JLP

#IANWAE

Article in Journal.ie clearly written to provoke comments from “I’m not racist but…” brigade

Here’s the story…as part of Ireland’s agreements as part of the international community, 80 refugees, mostly of Syrian extraction, are to be accommodated in a refurbished hotel in County Roscommon.

For the most part, we here at FPP see that as a good thing.  It’s not perfect, there are negative connotations, but given all that has been happening in the world, that a place is being found for these people where hunks of metal are not being dropped from the sky on a daily basis has to be seen as a net blessing all round.

So when you report on that, we think the “80 lives made better” thing is the best starting point.

Now…to get a clear picture of what is going on, of COURSE you look into how the locals feel about it.  Of COURSE you interview local people and representatives.   And of COURSE you seek out the response from the Department of Justice and the Roscommon County Council.

However, assuming there are language and logistical barriers preventing you from speaking to the refugees themselves, we believe you should ALSO interview the Irish Refugee Council, or Amnesty International, or some other such organisation who generally act as the first responders from Irish society towards such people when they arrive on our shores.  Maybe get a little perspective on what it must be like for them?

According to this article in the Journal, the 80 refugees are not the story.

Council meets to discuss housing of refugees in refurbished hotel

The important narrative, apparently, is that the locals don’t like the way THEY have been treated.

Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins, a Ballaghaderreen native, says that “a number of questions need to be answered” with regard to the move.

They go on to interview a Fine Gael councillor, as well as two Fianna Fáil councillors (FF have 8 of 18 on the council by the way – FG 3, SF 1, IND 6) .

Like we point out, those viewpoints are all fine, but they are not the full story.  To be fair, the article does end like this…

TheJournal.ie has contacted both the Department of Justice and Roscommon County Council on the matter.

…yet they still posted an article that purely focuses on the reaction of a handful of right-leaning councillors.

You can imagine the kind of comments that will appear below an article like this.  Posted at 10:30am Friday, by 3pm there were 182 comments, like these…

The plan is to get in as many Muslims as possible until Ireland becomes as unstable and divided as Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, basically any country with a high Islamic fundamentalist presence. God help any of you with female kids.

Screw our own people, leave them on the streets, but look after the foreigners, that’s the humane thing to do. What the hell is wrong with this Country?

There is a cruel irony here, where sending refugees to a hotel in Rosscommon somehow makes it okay. There are absolutely no prospects of them ever finding employment, so they might be better off back in Syria where they came from and at least can fend for themselves and regain their dignity. They certainly won’t have much dignity around here.

This makes my f**king blood boil

Let’s house 80 ” refugees ” in a newly refurbished hotel …..

Meanwhile the government issue a court order to remove irish homesless people from an abandoned building …

How does this make sense ???????

Now to be fair, there are some comments going the other way…

Lots on here on about homelessness. No humanity at all

If ye feel that strong on irish homelessness open yer own door welcome in the homeless. Id say 0% of ye would. So shut up on about innocent people who didnt choose to be bombed beheaded shot HOMELESS imprisoned for nothing risking lifes spending all there money drowning trying to save there familys

Do you think 5 years ago they would choose to be in this situation and end up thousands of miles from home in ballaghaderreen.

Ps the mayo border is nearly 13 km away

…but the way the article has been presented views like this are guaranteed to be in the minority.

#IANWAE

Our favourite Progressive video of 2016

Seems a bit unfair of us to award a title like this, as there were so many candidates throughout the year from such great sources as The Young Turks, Democracy Now and The Majority Report….and let’s not forget great Irish offerings like Gemma O’Doherty’s independently-made documentary on the Mary Boyle case.

But still, we’re going to go for this one from Lee Camp (or as we call him “Geeky Jesus”) from Redacted Tonight.  In under ten minutes he brilliantly captures the misguided nature of the conservative mindset and gives us a few laughs in the process.

Just two things to say about the Irish budget 2016

  1. The mainstream media in general seems more concerned with who gets an extra fiver than they do with the fact that this is essentially a coalition budget between Fianna Gael and Fine Fáil.  (Not a typo)

  2. Whatever about the Lansdowne Road Agreement I cannot wrap my head around the fact that nobody is talking about a protest march surrounding the fact that the politicians are getting a pay rise.  Here at FPP, not only do we think they are morally obliged to waive it, no TD who supports it should receive any political capital for doing so.  It’s like showing up to work on time…you shouldn’t get credit for something that everyone expects of you.

We haven’t been posting as often of late.  We hope to get back to our post-a-day schedule soon.