Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Language of Republicanism

Who can fail to be struck by the rudimentary form of communication espoused by the presumptive republican candidate in the current US presidential race? In the New York Times‘ report of his reaction to the London Mayoral election we read, ‘Trump said he was pleased to see Khan elected’ – with further quotations from the candidate along these lines: “I was happy to see that [Khan’s election] … I think it’s a very good thing, and I hope he does a very good job because frankly that would be very, very good. You lead by example, always lead by example. If he does a good job … that would be a terrific thing.”

Donald Trump - US Presidential Candidate

Donald Trump – US Presidential Candidate

Leaving aside the artless note of condescension and the fudged conception of ethnic, religious, and civic identities behind it, the inanity of that attempt to drum up support for the last whisps of the America Dream considered as a political ideology fit for plutocrats and wanna-be plutocrats seems to reveal Trump’s conception of political office as a form of self-endorsement for the second-generation migrant. From that standpoint, it seems then that Khan and Trump have something in common and it is only fresh migrants that Trump disparages.

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Dublin 1916: “Is this real? My ideal?”

1916 Re-play

“Drawn by the ideals of 1916, many women signed up to the republican cause. Photograph: Delia McDevitt” (Guardian, 25 March 2016)

For friends who have some insight into Irish history – hey are very many – the images circulating in today in 1916/100 are often to be taken with a mental salt-cellar from which large pinches can be regularly applied. This is a case in point. My source is a Guardian article on past disappointments and present challenges facing Irish feminism in the Republic for which the Irish Volunteers fought in 1916. It appears that their egalitarian expectations of the new state were disappointed by the actuality that emerged after 1922 and some, at least, might have been better off under British law, or else living in Britain where Olivia Leary’s aunt removed themselves – to be followed by here in latter years when she came to note as a brilliant anchorman and interviewer on British radio and TV after a stellar career in Dublin. (She was married to Paul Tansey who sadly died in 2008.)

The picture shows some lady-revolutionaries purportedly participating in the 1916 Rising and holding British Lee Enfield rifles of the .303 caliber variety which were standard in that period and much sported on the Western Front. It happens that the only arms of this description to reach the hands of the Irish Volunteers were those captured in actions such as that on Mount Street Bridge and sundry other places where they gained an advantage over the government forces, freshly disembarked from the Holyhead-Dunleary mail boat. On the photographic evidence, for a certainty, the guns disembarked at Howth were of Germany manufacture and dispatched to Ireland from a postal address in Hamburg.

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Israel and the Colonial Dilemma


Palestinian Refugees, 1948

I was talking off-line – well, on FB messages – with a Jewish Irish-studies colleague and friend who fears that the identification of Zionism with Jewishness is becoming all too commonplace in talk about the Israel state today – not least on my Facebook page. I infer that he holds that state to be culpable of many excesses and that much of its purported “reaction to Hamas” is indefensible – if so, a credible position on his part, and I expect a personal burden too. One would wish it were not necessary to castigate the country with which one’s ethnicity and traditions are so often associated – though what the world knows as “Jewish” is often “British” or “American” and (albeit it in lesser numbers for horrific reasons) continental European as well. There is room here for the hyphenated forms “Jewish-American” and so on. All of this is a stimulus to further thought, and here it is for what it is worth.

Irish-studies folks are generally “on board” for a post-colonial interpretation of their subject area, Ireland – the country in which it is obviously grounded – but also any other country world-wide which has, or is currently, experiencing the woes of colonial invasion and imperialist subordination, or simply hegemonic repression in the sense of untrammeled cultural influence – all of which are variations on the theme of “colonialism” as this is understood in academic and wider walks of life today. In this view, the act of invasion and dispossession is a primordial crime which kick-starts major forms of social and political psychosis, if – more happily – with many interesting and appreciable cultural results. Well and good.

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