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Saturday 22 July 2017

Amnesty boss condemns 'Irish Times' for article

Donald Trump’s strategist Steve Bannon has alt-right links. Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Donald Trump’s strategist Steve Bannon has alt-right links. Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The head of Amnesty International in Ireland has strongly criticised 'The Irish Times' for publishing a "fawning" article on the racist alt-right movement.

The piece published by 'The Irish Times' caused a storm of controversy after it included a list of derogatory and offensive terms the white nationalist group uses to describe black people, women and people who may have changed gender.

The movement came to prominence due to its support for US president-elect Donald Trump.

Mr Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is a former executive chairman of Breitbart News, a website aligned to the alt-right movement.

Amnesty executive director Colm O'Gorman described the article as "dangerous", "unbelievable" and "just extraordinary".

He said the outlet had published "what effectively is such a fawning piece about an ideology and a movement which spends most of its time preaching sneering hate".

Writer Nicholas Pell has caused a storm
Writer Nicholas Pell has caused a storm

"For a start, if you want to convey what the ideology of the so-called alt-right is about, you need to name it for what it is," he said.

"It is a white supremacist, misogynistic, ultra-conservative ideology that wants to put women and minorities in particular kinds of boxes and that wants to assert some view of white male dominant power as the norm and acceptable order."

Mr O'Gorman said it was "grossly irresponsible" to give "space to somebody who gives a fawning description of an ideology that is hateful and deeply misogynistic and xenophobic".

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) said it received 37 complaints.

"The complaints are a reflection of the public opprobrium 'The Irish Times' has provoked in giving a platform to a blogger with far-right sympathies and uncritically furnishing readers with a lexicon devised by the far-right," said its Ireland director Shane O'Curry.

Irish-based US writer Nicholas Pell, who has been published by the 'Washington Post' and 'Playboy', said he had "no regrets" about his piece and did not care if people believed him to be racist.

He said he was "not alt-right" but some of his views overlapped with those of the movement. "Mostly my overlap with them is seeing the establishment on the left and the establishment on the right take one on the nose."

In a blog post, 'The Irish Times' opinion editor John McManus defended its decision to publish the article on the basis that it would inform readers.

He said the piece decoded the language used by the movement and gave a clear indication of its thinking.

However, he accepted "some of the language in the piece has clearly offended people". He said this was not the intention and that the news outlet had been unambiguous in its opposition to what the alt-right stands for.

Irish Independent

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