Opinion

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'Trump should visit and people should protest - that's democracy'

Invitation: Varadkar says Trump will probably visit Ireland in June or December
Invitation: Varadkar says Trump will probably visit Ireland in June or December
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

If cutting off your nose to spite your face ever becomes an Olympic sport, then we can look forward to increasing our usually abysmal medal count.

The last week has provided a classic example of this very Irish trait and, as ever, it came from a rather predictable source.

When Leo Varadkar went to Washington last week, he was doing what politicians are supposed to be doing - pressing the flesh and trying to improve Ireland's opportunities.

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But in the solipsistic echo chamber that passes for left-leaning political discourse in this country, Varadkar may as well have been guilty of some strange form of treason.

He had, according to the angry letter writers in this newspaper, betrayed the people of Ireland.

The emotionally unhinged lunatics on social media were busy lathering themselves into such a self-righteous frenzy that I'm surprised their heads didn't explode like that guy in Scanners.

And, of course, the usual collection of lefty politicians were quick to voice their outrage.

We've entered a strange, post-Catholic society which seems to have swapped one dogma for another.

People who sneer at the idea of transubstantiation or other articles of Catholic faith seem quite happy to accept new ones, and most of these new articles of faith seem to revolve around Trump being the next Hitler.

The only thing that enraged our moral guardians more than Leo's visit was Trump's announcement that he would like to reciprocate.

The US president is due to visit Europe in June and then again in December and speaking to reporters in Chicago, the Taoiseach said he would probably make a stopover at the end of either one of those trips.

What was more interesting, however, was the moral certitude of people like Ming Flanagan, Richard Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy that the people of Ireland don't want Trump.

It takes an impressive level of gumption to have the arrogance to become a politician in the first place, but it takes an industrial vat-load of chutzpah to think that you can speak with authority for the entire country.

Yet speak they do. Endlessly.

They've been busy these last few days parping the usual talking points and shop-worn phrases with such a religious fervour that I was half expecting one of them to say "that would be an ecumenical matter".

The reality, of course, is that nobody speaks for all the country. Not the politicians, not the angry letter writers. Not even, dare I say it, the average newspaper columnist.

How can one person dare speak for 4.78 million people?

Of course, what they really mean is they don't want him to visit. But that doesn't sound quite as impressive.

It's also another example of how happily the left will sacrifice the rest of us on the altar of their own weird convictions.

It's often forgotten that we have received a large increase in visas since Tango One took office and he also promised to help us with our own undocumented Irish in America.

Are those politicians prepared to scupper whatever amnesty hopes the illegal Irish have just because Trump gives them a fit of the vapours?

One of the more baffling elements is how ill-informed or downright dishonest much of the debate has been.

Flanagan went on a night-time news panel recently and declared that "Trump said Mexicans were rapists". Except he didn't.

He was referring to the criminal gang MS-13, and the so called 'coyotes' who specialise in human trafficking and the gang rape of helpless female migrants. Similarly, we hear plenty about Trump's remark that "there are fine people on both sides" following the riots in Charlottesville.

Again, that quote is out of context - he was talking in relation to Confederate statues in the south, and his follow-up caveat, that the neo-Nazis "should be condemned totally", seldom gets a mention.

There are myriad reasons to look on Trump with contempt (his treatment of the media, his insane pettiness, the sense that he is simply out of his depth).

But be aware of the hypocrisy of those who try to paint him as inherently deceitful while doing exactly the same thing themselves.

If Trump really was that bad, why do so many people cherry pick his frequently ridiculous statements and then parse them in a way that he never intended?

Even more depressing is the complete disdain for democracy displayed by those who say they speak for the country.

What about the people who do want him to visit. Or don't they count?

This is a democracy. People have the right to protest and we should cherish that right with everything we have.

So let him visit and let the people protest as much as they want. But never trust anyone who says they "speak for the people".

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