August 15, 2016

Protestant, planter and guilt. Catholic, Gael and virtue.

Captain John Smith trading with Virginian Indians. Painting by Sidney E. King, National Park Service.
On Slugger O'Toole I wrote that being protestant is often a byword for outsider and guilt, while being Catholic is shorthand for Erin and virtue. In that I wrote:
"The fashionable narrative now really is that Catholic is Erin and virtue, Protestant is planter and guilt. Yet I can say, speaking as an agnostic Protestant, that I daily encounter crudely simple and brutally bigoted views from republicans who truly see my type as blood-sucking planters. If 800 years is within the parameters of debate, why no words for the brutal invasion and occupation of the natives of our sister island (Wales finds it origins in the old English word for slave)? 
And I ask, in the words of George Orwell: 
“Why is it that the worst extremes of jingoism and racialism have to be tolerated when they come from an [fior gael] Irishman?”"
I also noted what Hubert Butler, the southern Irish writer wrote in his 1954 essay, 'Portrait of a Minority':
"We protestants of the Irish Republic... a generation ago we were regarded dramatically as imperialistic blood-suckers, or, by our admirers, as the last champion of civilisation in an abandoned island... Our brothers in the north are still discussed in such colourful terms."
Fiona Kennedy wrote in the Irish Times series that looked at the role of Britain and British culture ‘Britain and Me’:
"When I was a child I learned from my grandmother that the Protestant heathens who lived next door had plundered and tortured us, ruined our language and culture and divided our country. 
My grandmother’s hatred of the British didn’t extend beyond politics. A few months after the death of Bobby Sands, the hunger striker, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer and my grandmother and I watched the fairy-tale wedding on television. She might have hated the British, but she loved their royalty. I was confused by this dichotomy but came to accept it. 
In 1981 my father attached a BBC aerial to our chimney. I am not quite sure why my father, who had absorbed his mother’s political views, allowed British propaganda into his living room, but I became a willing disciple of British propaganda as I watched Blue Peter, Jackanory and, later, Grange Hill and Top of the Pops. 
A few months after the Belfast Agreement was signed, in 1998, a horrific bomb shook Omagh. I was at Stansted Airport, on my way home to visit my grandmother in hospital, when I heard the news. She recovered from the stroke and told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to marry an Englishman. She would prefer if I married a black man than an Englishman. (The idea that a man could be both black and English didn’t occur to her.) 
Contrary to her wishes I married an Englishman in 2003. He, despite having no Irish connections, wanted us to move to my native country. My grandmother couldn’t help loving him and told him how happy she was that Charles finally got to marry Camilla. 
When we first moved back I thought I’d feel totally at home, but I had underestimated how anglicised I’d become. I missed the BBC, the Guardian and Brighton, where I had lived most recently. So much had changed in Ireland in the Celtic Tiger years. It took me a year to settle in. 
Ten years on our Anglo-Irish life is enriched by the presence of the two cultures. Our children are Anglo-Irish. They have visited Kilmainham Gaol and Buckingham Palace. They support Mayo and Manchester United. I feel totally at home at last and love life in the west of Ireland. I even read The Irish Times as regularly as I read the Guardian."
Newton Emerson wrote:
"As an unpopular people with an unfashionable cause, unionists live in an exceptionally harsh environment. One response to this would be a descent into victim-hood, like everyone else. But unionists are so unpopular that we cannot even get away with that, as revealed by numerous failed attempts."
Newton Emerson also wrote:
"If unionists want to stop being presented as bigots, they must actively present themselves as something else."
Henry McDonald wrote that unionism has been dangerously stereotyped and pigeon-holed in the “villain” category, Belfast Telegraph, August 10 2016:
"The challenge is on for fresh voices to emerge out of a community that for too long was dangerously stereotyped and pigeon-holed in the “villain” category."
There is a stereotype of what the Irish and northern protestant is like, as I looked at here. However there is a terrible ignorance by the south of those predominantly from the north who are pro-British and unionist.

John Stuart Mill wrote in Chapters and speeches on the Irish land question that while Britain ruled cruelly in Ireland, today's generation cannot be held responsible or atone for past misconduct. He wrote in his publication from 1870:
"The Irish were taught that feeling [disaffection] by Englishmen. England has only even professed to treat the Irish people as part of the same nation with ourselves, since 1800. How did we treat them before that time? I will not go into the subject of the penal laws, because it may be said that those laws affected the Irish not as Irish but as Catholics. I will only mention the manner in which they were treated merely as Irish. I grant that, for these things, no man now living has any share of the blame; we are all ashamed of them; but “the evil that men do lives after them”."
But Niall Ferguson wrote:
"Drawing up historical balance sheets is never easy. When it comes to British Ireland, it is especially hard. Even today, four centuries after the first plantations, the `Brits' are a long way from being forgiven for their sins."

However it has been suggested that we are living in the age of "perked-up unionism".
Also of note, Stephen Canning wrote on Conservative Home that 'Being a Conservative is now not just cool, it is positively in vogue'.

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