Posts Tagged ‘racism’

No foothold for racists

antipegida-rally1I was thrilled to stand on O’Connell Street on Saturday 6 February as part of a large coalition of people, Irish and migrants, who congregated in front of the GPO to say no to racism and Islamophobia and to counter Pegida Ireland’s plans to hold its inaugural meeting. Pegida stands for ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident’ (in German Patriotische Europaer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes). It was established in October 2014 in Germany, where thousands of neo Nazi fascists have since marched in opposition to Muslim migrants, though the ‘Islamisation’ of the West is of course a figment of the racists’ imagination as Muslims remain a small persecuted minority throughout the West.

Like all far right groupings, including Identity Ireland, Pegida presents itself as defending European values and providing a legitimate opposition to migration. However, it’s worth remembering that the German term Abendlandes derives from The Downfall of the Occident, a 1918 book penned by one Oswald Spengler, whose racist ideas about the division of history into discrete cultures fed Nazi racial superiority that led to the extermination of millions. Read the rest of this entry »

Race and the lessons of 1916

insurrectionAt the end of Easter 2016 week I feel somewhat 1916-ed out. I spent the week watching Insurrection, the wonderful day by day series about the 1916 Rising produced and directed by my late husband Louis for RTE in 1966 and which was re-broadcast for the first time only this year, fifty years after it was made. I also attended exhibitions and other events, and strolled the festive streets of Dublin. Despite the attempts by our right wing (non) government to write out the revolutionary Rising leaders in favour of reformers such as O’Connell, Parnell, Redmond and Grattan, Dublin did itself proud, with streets festooned with flags and shop windows, from banks to souvenir shops, displaying copies of the 1916 Proclamation and pictures of the 1916 leaders.

Historians encouraged us to remember not only the Rising, but also colonial violence and the fact that Ireland was the first small nation to rise against the British Empire. The events made me reflect on the revolutionary zeal of the republican and socialist leaders of the insurrection and wonder what Ireland would have looked like had they not been executed by the British.

The celebrations made me reflect on post 1916 Ireland, left to De Valera, who kept the island divided and collaborated with the Catholic hierarchy to create a reactionary, priest-ridden, anti-women, pro property owners and anti-foreigners Ireland. Read the rest of this entry »

No foothold for racists

antipegida-rally1I was thrilled to stand on O’Connell Street on Saturday 6 February as part of a large coalition of people, Irish and migrants, who congregated in front of the GPO to say no to racism and Islamophobia and to counter Pegida Ireland’s plans to hold its inaugural meeting. Pegida stands for ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident’ (in German Patriotische Europaer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes). It was established in October 2014 in Germany, where thousands of neo Nazi fascists have since marched in opposition to Muslim migrants, though the ‘Islamisation’ of the West is of course a figment of the racists’ imagination as Muslims remain a small persecuted minority throughout the West.

Like all far right groupings, including Identity Ireland, Pegida presents itself as defending European values and providing a legitimate opposition to migration. However, it’s worth remembering that the German term Abendlandes derives from The Downfall of the Occident, a 1918 book penned by one Oswald Spengler, whose racist ideas about the division of history into discrete cultures fed Nazi racial superiority that led to the extermination of millions.

The European far-right regards Europe’s refugee crisis as an opportunity to publicise its anti-immigrant message. During the last months of 2015 there were 208 rallies in Germany, up from 95 a year earlier, and Pegida members set fire to refugee hostels, instilling fear in the million or so migrants who have reached Germany mostly from the war-torn Middle East. Racist rallies were also held in Calais, home to thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty, in Amsterdam, Prague and Birmingham. Wherever they go, Pegida members –holding flags and chanting nationalist chants – attack counter demonstrators who support migrants, attack centres where provisions for refugees are collected, throw stones and bottles. Pegida members often complain that by preventing them from marching, they are deprived of freedom of speech and right of protest against what they see as legitimate targets.

Since the 1930s when the precursors of Fine Gael, the Blueshirts, described by Look Left magazine as ‘the most serious fascist movement to emerge in Ireland’, had 48,000 members across the Free State, and apart from some insignificant attempts by tiny groups such as the Immigration Control Platform and Identity Ireland, Ireland has not had a significant extreme right wing political party. Judging from government restrictive migration policies and the ongoing incarceration of asylum seekers in direct provision hostels, as well as Ireland’s reluctance to play its part in admitting refugees from Syria, some say that Ireland does not really need an extreme right party. Yet the establishment of Pegida Ireland was a step too far. This was why the anti-Pegida coalition, led by groups such as Anti-Racism Network Ireland and the European Network against Racism amongst many others, decided to mount the counter rally last Saturday.

We were guided by several important principles, among them the need to hold the space of the 1916 Rising for inclusion and against racial hatred. Thus most of the rally speakers were members of ethnic minorities and migrant communities, all of whom spoke of their sense of belonging to an inclusive republic that they and their children call home. Although we invited all political parties to endorse this inclusivity, only representatives of minority parties spoke, while the government parties preferred absence. In the presence of many supporters, the largely peaceful rally claimed the streets of Dublin as our own, and yet again, managed t prevent the extreme right from setting up its stall on the 1916 scene.

Short plays about (racist) Ireland, 4

August 2015, my local bus stop

Elderly Man: You write for Metro Eireann, don’t you?

Me: (Thinking ‘great, here’s someone who enjoys my articles’) Yes.

EM: They pay you?

Me: No.

EM: You pay them?

Me: No.

EM: So why (do you write for them)?

Me: Oh, it’s a newspaper read by many migrants and members of ethnic minorities; I enjoy writing for it on a voluntary basis.

EM: Oh yes? Who owns Metro Eireann?

Me: Chinedu Onyejelem… (EM puzzled)… A Nigerian journalist and entrepreneur.

EM: Oh, entrepreneur, is he? He makes money out of ME then, doesn’t he?

Me: Not much…

EM: How much?

Me: (Beginning to loathe this conversation) I don’t know, and I don’t care… and anyway, what is it, a police interrogation?

EM: Oh no, but we live in a country where we speak English… You said ‘not much’, so you must know how much he makes…

Me: (getting truly pissed off) Would you excuse me (turning my back on him but remaining on my spot)

EM: (keeps silent for a while… then comes after me) You Jewish?

I remain silent.

EM: You Jewish, aren’t you?

I take a photo of him on my IPhone.

EM: Why are you taking my picture? What are you going to do with it? Report me to the police?

Me: Oh no, you have done nothing wrong… apart from being a pest…

EM: So I am a pest now, am I? Am I a pest now? (by which stage I have moved away from him, but he continues to stare at me; when I ignore him, he buries his face in a newspaper, but seems to go on mumbling to himself)

11 June - Remember the Citizenship Referendum?

citizenshipno2Remember ‘citizenship tourism’? Remember ‘pregnant on arrival’? Remember when Dublin’s maternity hospitals were allegedly packed to the brim with ‘non national’ women arriving at the last minute to have citizen children? Remember the 1990 Fajujonu Supreme Court case, giving migrant parents a legal right to remain in Ireland to provide ‘care and company‘ to their citizen child? Remember the 2003 Lobe and Osayande Supreme Court appeal, ruling that ‘non-national‘ parents were no longer allowed to remain in Ireland to bring up their citizen child, privileging the State‘s right to deport and the ‘integrity of the asylum process‘ over citizen children‘s rights?

On June 11 a group of activists is marking the 2004 Citizenship Referendum in which the government of Ireland asked the electorate to put an end to birth right citizenship entitlement granted to all people born in Ireland since 1922 in favour of blood-based citizenship rights granted only to children born in Ireland one of whose parents is a citizen, or entitled to citizenship.  Why are we doing this? Our main aim is to remind people of the Referendum and its effects: it was a sloppy piece of legislation, rushed through and using moral panic in relation to migrants ‘taking over’ and usurping Irish citizenship, the result of which was a two-tier citizenship and the creation of people with fewer rights than Irish citizens.

Read the rest of this entry »

12/18/2017 Migrant Activism and Integration from Below in Ireland

Edited by Ronit Lentin and Elena Moreo Palgrave MacMillan, 2012...read more
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