By Shane Flanagan
The idea of the Echo Chamber of social media is often trotted out to explain electoral sins these days. Yet, one can argue that the Echo Chamber exists within the mainstream media too such is the hysteric nature of the reaction to Trump’s supposed “Muslim” ban. The ban is like Trump himself, unorthodox, blunt and would vaguely make some sort of sense if somehow reformed. But, the overreaction of some within Ireland is also dangerous, with many suggesting that Ireland burns its bridges with the States through the action of Enda Kenny cancelling his St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House. Such action in my view is reckless and would only lead to an empty moral victory. Tactless diplomacy like this bears no resemblance to the political reality of that which we find ourselves in, as quite frankly we need Trump more than he needs us.
Ireland and Brexit
Firstly, there is the issue of Brexit. Brexit is the revolution that few in political circles in these isles actually wanted or expected. Its impact is an uncertain integer that could vastly affect Ireland’s fortunes in the coming decades not to mention the situation in relation to Northern Ireland. It is in our interest to work for a soft Brexit, something which doesn’t seem likely to happen without great effort. Also, we have the issue of our economy being built to a large degree on American corporate investment. This is something that many in Ireland want to continue. With any other American President such a thing wouldn’t be such a worry, but Trump is a fanatical, indigenous protectionist and has talked about slapping 20% taxation tariffs on products being shipped back to the States through Mexico to discourage foreign investment, so God knows what he is capable of regarding our situation. Also, the situation of undocumented (read illegal) Irish workers in the States is precarious, to say the least.
The reaction to Trump’s actions has largely been irrational. Yes, no doubt Trump’s ban is crude, however, all of the countries involved do have citizens that undoubtedly pose a danger to the United States. Of course, this doesn’t mean everybody. But can we really say that Trump was wrong or lying when he referred to the degree of verification and surveillance work required to keep track of all those coming to the United States is too overwhelming? And if we are offended by the over-cautious actions of American intelligence officials then we are out of touch with the political reality of the so-called “War on Terror”? I also find most objections simply quite empty. Is how the States decides to vet people entering their country really any of our business? I don’t really believe so. Were such people bothered about the illegal smuggling ring recently exposed at Dublin Airport or too concerned with the fates of the apparently a hundred or so a year people that have recently been entering our country without any checking what so ever? At a guess, most of these were probably young women smuggled into the gross sex trade barely policed in our philosophical basket case country. Yet the issue was quickly forgotten.
This is not to say that those objecting are not coming from a good place, broad intolerance is wrong. Yet, this is a complex situation. Even in an existentially philosophical way, restricting entry into a country due their religion is not necessarily morally aghast. The United States can simply not continue to survive as a nation set up of immigrants. And although a vocal minority and the media worldwide have hollered loudly at Trump’s actions, I suspect that the majority of Americans stand by his decisions, they, after all, did elect him. Trump has already shown himself to be capable of surviving many a scandal that would have marooned other less “charismatic” politicians and the Left are making a mistake by being so immediately censorious of his actions. Something which I believe they are going to pay heavily for come election time in four years.
For now, we should pursue our own interests, because in truth we need friends in the coming Brexit negotiations and I don’t believe were going to readily find allies among our European partners. We cannot afford a return to the borders of the past both metaphorically and otherwise on this island and must, therefore, tread carefully. Bizarrely, Enda Kenny could be an ally in this aim as a man of no particular political persuasion or charisma. The perfect diplomat for a country stuck between a rock and a hard place.
If you want to follow Shane’s work, try these out;