Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ian O'Doherty's 'unnamed journalist' was absolutely right

Published 26/07/2016 | 02:30

Far-right politician Geert Wilders Picture: Reuters
Far-right politician Geert Wilders Picture: Reuters

Ian O'Doherty might look in the mirror when addressing the "Outragerati" from his lofty pedestal of historical accuracy and its sensible interpretation. In his hubris he assumes the right to rebut that which he deems "unworthy of rebuttal" as he fillets an unnamed Irish journalist for comparing "the plight of Muslims in Europe today to that of Jews in the 1930s", calling this a "disgusting minimisation of the Holocaust".

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I'm one of the "Facterati", Ian, and, for historical accuracy, the systematic extermination programme known as the Holocaust did not commence until 1941, but its seeds were being laid throughout the '30s, and many parallels with that time sadly pertain today.

My work takes me to Germany for a week or more every month where I see first-hand the evolution of politics and society over the past four years. I have friends working in the education and integration of Muslim refugees. I see day-to-day life on the streets and hear the opinion of Germans, both pro- and anti-immigration/EU, etc.

I see the posters of political parties and the graffiti on the walls. I see the newspapers and TV full of Trump, Brexit and "terror".

I see unemployed German youths in search of direction, and I meet Muslim immigrants on the train who arrived so full of hope, and I see the resignation in their eyes.

Meanwhile, democratically elected governments pass more "emergency" legislation in response to attacks from a crazed terrorist faction, while sinister political forces are gathering momentum with the mantra that Islam is the problem. Geert Wilders is one of the leaders of this movement, and his views on Islam make him a bigot according to my dictionary.

And now the EU's would-be next member and new best friend, Turkey, who we have entrusted with relieving us of the refugee problem, is turning into a most frightening place in response to the recent coup.

So, yes, Ian O'Doherty, there is a "strange sense of impending doom" about, and we do seem to be "on the cusp of something big". It's called Totalitarianism, and the unnamed journalist you criticised is absolutely right.

Paul O'Neill

Newcastle, Co Wicklow

Isn't it ironic?

Colette Browne is quite right to point out the irony involved in Milo Yiannopoulos's playing of the victim after having been banned from Twitter soon after accusing 'Ghostbusters'-reboot actress Leslie Jones of the same thing (Irish Independent, July 23).

But she seems to be blind to the irony in her own piece, in which she spends much of the article characterising Yiannopoulos as a hateful, right-wing troll.

I'm left wondering, is this not more of the same insult-hurling and mud-slinging which she is decrying?

It would seem that to merit the charge of 'hate speech', you must be a conservative commentator who has criticised one of the sacred cows of the liberal left.

In the case of Yiannopoulos, it was his criticism of feminism in general and the latest 'Ghostbusters' reboot as a feminist vehicle in particular.

His criticism of Leslie Jones's character as a racist stereotype was something picked up by a lot of reviews - including those lauding the feminist dimensions of the work.

That he likened her or her character to a man should surprise no-one, least of all feminists.

Surely the core doctrine of feminism is that men and women are essentially interchangeable and any differences are only superficial or socially conditioned.

Self-confessed liberals should be the last group to get behind an attack on free speech, but the live-and-let-live attitude only goes so far.

Twitter, as a public platform for airing views, will pay the price for taking the side of those it deems better at playing the victim.

Mark Hickey

Irishtown, Dublin 4

An 'ill-judged' comment from Liz

Liz O'Donnell's lecture in her article (Irish Independent, July 22) telling us all that a "degree of normality has descended on the UK after the bedlam of the last few weeks" and that the Brexit decision does not have implications for the Good Friday Agreement is, to quote herself, "ill-judged".

The UK referendum result says essentially that the English have not only decided to tell the rest of the people of Europe but also the rest of the people on these islands to take a hike.

That vote for Brexit, therefore, has the capacity to do any or all of the following: Break up the UK, break up the EU and reinstall the border in Ireland.

Given that the interests of Scotland and those of Northern Ireland are now in total opposition to the self-defined interests of the English, the consequence could be the disintegration of the United Kingdom.

Liz O'Donnell's lecturing notwithstanding, therefore, the implications of Brexit are serious for the Good Friday Agreement and being in denial about what constitutes normality is of no help.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin

Intelligence defeats terrorism

In America Donald Trump is turning up the heat in the debate on terror by attacking France and Germany for being too soft and not rising to the challenge.

Under a Trump presidency, the citizens of both nations would therefore be subject to more intense security scrutiny on entering the US.

The best form of security is effective intelligence. Elaborate but meaningless footage of the police and army scrambling around in hot pursuit are presumably intended to reassure everyone that the bad guys are on the retreat.

Generally they are long gone before the first TV news crew arrives to beam the images around the globe that are meant to soothe all our fears.

Neither Mr Trump's raucous bluster nor the ineffectual floundering of the police and military as they seek to project an image of robust authority and natural order are greatly helping matters.

If you want to combat terror you need to know where your enemy is.

You need to know how they think, and you need to have preventative measures in place. Should these fail then you need to have effective reaction forces at the ready.

Over recent weeks, there has been very little evidence that any of this is happening in Europe.

If you look further afield at the weekend carnage in Afghanistan and Iraq, you can see how these failures are having an even more appalling impact on civilian populations.

The only effective way to defeat terror is to remove the threat and that involves a multi-faceted intelligence-driven approach, which no amount of rhetoric or posturing can replicate.

Ed Toal

Galway City

Irish Independent

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