Wednesday 29 January 2020

Myers got it badly wrong - but let's not turn it into a witch hunt

Journalist and author Kevin Myers. Photo: Tony Gavin
Journalist and author Kevin Myers. Photo: Tony Gavin
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

I am writing in relation to the recent controversy regarding journalist Kevin Myers. Much ink has been spilled on the topic and I am simply adding to the copious amounts already written.

However, I think it is necessary to examine the unparalleled backlash to his words. Myers using the stereotypical analogy of Jewish people being wealthy and apparently tight with money was not only "filth", as described by JK Rowling, but it was also anti-Semitic. Further, the inflammatory headline of 'Sorry ladies … equal pay has to be deserved' was blatantly misogynistic. There is no other way of looking at it.

It was appallingly sexist and, unfortunately, in our current obsessive Trump era, something that is becoming far too normalised. Vanessa Feltz herself has branded his comments "vile" and "horrifying racism".

He individually attacked these women - this was not simply a generalist statement but, rather, a specific diatribe against someone. With the ghosts of Nazi Germany still lurking as the likes of Katie Hopkins brand refugees in the migrant crisis "cockroaches", it is fundamental this type of discrimination is publicly reprimanded.

Ms Feltz and the Jewish community are more than entitled to do this. Yet I cannot help but wonder … does this not stink of a witch hunt to anyone else? Or even white privilege? Yes, it is terrible and without doubt he deserves to lose his job. But when did it become acceptable for all of us to jump on the bandwagon and hurl abuse back at him? Yes, he is the creator of his own downfall, there is no denial of that. The Irish Jewish community has even come to his aid, this man who so hideously insulted their religion, saying: "More than any other Irish journalist, he has written columns about details of the Holocaust over the last three decades that would not otherwise have been known by a substantial Irish audience."

There is also, of course, the old adage that those in the public eye leave themselves open to criticism. And it is true he has written countless articles in the hope of provoking and insulting.

But it is a meek man we heard over the radio waves this week, a man whose own father suffered from a nervous breakdown. Myers told the interviewer he has not slept in two days. A man who has been portrayed as Machiavellian and heartless is still just that; a man.

Let us not wait to see how far he can be pushed.

Máiréad Leen

Address with editor

Name and shame Dáil tab dodgers

Politicians who have failed to settle their Dáil bar bills should have the money deducted from their salaries or pensions, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Mr Varadkar criticised both serving and former members of the Oireachtas who have left bar tabs, some of which have been outstanding for years.

Not telling the Taoiseach how to do his job, but surely the most obvious way to eliminate this problem going forward would be to deduct the money from their wallets when they are on the session.

Perhaps he could also have a sign erected at the entrance to the Dáil bar, stating: "Please don't ask for credit as refusal often offends."

Also, for those who have not yet paid their bills, why not "name and shame", as the Taoiseach has recently proposed for people who commit welfare fraud?

Seamus McLoughlin

Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim

All in the dark on global economics

An enormous amount of absolute rubbish is talked about the awarding of an honorary doctorate to ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen by the National University of Ireland. Such talk is rubbish because Mr Cowen did not contribute to the catastrophic collapse of economics in 2008, or to the so-called subsequent recovery, any more than his predecessors or his successors.

None of them, or the Governments they led and still lead, had a clue what was really happening to global economics. They all made a difficult situation much worse than it might have otherwise been, but their actions stem not from a lack of intent but from ignorance; an absolute failure to understand how advanced technology had changed economics forever.

An enormous mistake was, and still is, made by regarding what happened in 2008 as a "recession". It was no such thing. It was instead the first indication of the greatest transformation of economic conditions ever experienced. It is evidence of utterly changed economic conditions where ability to produce exceeds ability to consume, with consequential elimination of need and opportunity for growth, combined with enormous elimination of dependence on human labour.

This transformation is wrought by development of digital computing which, when linked to communications, automation, bio-chemistry, transportation and practically every facet of productive activity, has reversed the supply/demand and work requirement situation which prevailed since the dawn of history. Our problem is the failure to understand it or cope with its consequences.

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

Tapping into public mood on water

I see that Jerry Grant says the public accepts Irish Water must now invest money in water infrastructure (Irish Independent, August 2). While I agree with him on this point, I must ask the question, is that not what the public was saying when it said to invest in infrastructure first, not on meters?

Maurice Prendiville

Newtown, Waterford

Seeing red on Russia claims

I'd like to respond to Kev O Faolain's statement that "in Crimea, the ethnic Russian population who have lived there for over 1,000 years" (Irish Independent, Letters, August 1). Nothing can be further from the truth. Yes, in the mid-10th century, part of Crimea was conquered by Prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev, but that would support the Ukrainian, rather than Russian, ownership of Crimea, as the princedom of Moscow wasn't created until 1277, as a subservient vassal region to the Golden Horde, established by the Khan Mengu-Timur. The Crimean interior was under the control of the Turco-Mongol Golden Horde from 1239 to 1441 (the name Crimea originates from Turkic "Qirim"), while the coast was built by the Venetians, who seized it from the Republic of Genoa, until it was conquered by Ottomans.

The years 1441-1783 saw Crimea controlled by the Crimean Tatars, the descendants of the Khazars, not of the Russians, who emerged around the 15th century, from the Finnish tribes Muroma, Mer and Ves.

It wasn't until 1783 that the Russian Empire annexed all of Crimea. Even in the 19th century, the Russians were only one of many nationalities living in Crimea.

Ethnic Russians crop up in the history of Crimea much less than the Ulster Scots crop up in the history of Northern Ireland.

Grzegorz Kolodziej

Bray, Co Wicklow

Irish Independent

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