Friday, June 19, 2009
A week on from screaming headlines all over the globe, what are we to make of the anti-immigrant pogroms in Belfast?
It made for perfect headlines for the world's media. To the outside eye, the North of Ireland has always resembled a boiling pot of irrational hatred and sectarianism.
Logic dictates that if these neanderthals are prepared to kill each other, despite sharing language, culture, skin colour and a God, what wouldn't they do to foreigners?
And that's what we got, all over the world, last week. Endless handwringing articles about a 'return to hatred', hectoring PC sermons from fingerwagging commentators in other countries, multiculturalism 'experts' warning ominously about the slide toward Nazism.
It always helps to return to the facts, and on this occasion, they didn't really get aired at all (although fair play to some of the local media and indeed Myles Dungan on RTE for eventually getting round to reporting the facts.)
So what happened? Same as everywhere else in Europe - a load of Roma gypsies moved into a nice area and made shite of it. Robbed, begged, intimidated local elderly people, and howled racism when asked to stop.
Wellington Park and Wellesley Avenue are NOT some Loyalist shithole full of 'For God and Ulster' meatheads. It's a mixed area next to the university and always has been. Go back two decades and it was probably one of the few areas of the city where a foreign face could be seen. Many Chinese and Indians live in the vicinity, as do many foreign students.
It's a nice, peaceful residential area, and it's not the sort of area that would easily accommodate a family of thieves, living in squalor 30 to a house, intimidating the locals.
Now let's deal with the lies. No one put copies of 'Mein Kampf' through any letterboxes. No glass bottles rained down on the 'anti-racist' march. No organised campaign by Loyalist terror groups or the BNP or Combat 18 or any other far right group took place. There is, in fact, no evidence of ANY FORM of far right or racist involvement whatsoever.
The only organised element in these whole proceedings where those of the sinister far left Socialist Workers Party. These demented Trots, none of whom come from or live in the area, saw a bandwagon to jump on and did so with gusto.
They organised an 'anti-racist' march through the area, pissing off all the locals and attracting abuse from drinkers at a local pub. Petrol on the flames as far as the Roma were concerned, I'd imagine, but far be it from the Socialist Workers to think of others. They had an issue to hijack after all.
So they lied to the media about being struck down in a hail of bottles that never happened. They lied to the media about copies of 'Mein Kampf' being put through letterboxes. They lied to the media about the involvement of a who's who of far right organisations. Not a word of any of it was true, but the media lapped up the headlines and repeated them unquestioningly.
There is a Polish shop on that street, but no Poles came out even for a minute to show solidarity with either the bussed-in Socialist Workers or the Roma. However, plenty of Romanians could be found protesting AGAINST the Roma.
How so? Well, who knows the Roma better than their compatriots? Who suffer more from being confused for Roma than other Romanians? Who are most upset at the good name of their country being dragged through the gutter by the behaviour of Roma gypsies than Romanians? And so Romanians were also involved in the protest against this particular clan of gypsies.
Where are we now? The world's base opinion of Northern Ireland is once again confirmed thanks to the clever media spinning and lies of a tiny coterie of crazy Trots. A bunch of thieves who should be facing charges are instead hiding in churches and claiming to be the victims of racism, while they await free flights home.
The losers are the good people of South Belfast, and a special neighbourhood that always accommodated everyone, even at the height of the Troubles. They have been maligned, and libelled, and lied about.
The winners as always are the Roma. More free food and clothes and accommodation and someone else to pay for their flight home from the squalor they've made in yet another foreign town.
And in two months time, they'll be back, in Belfast or Dublin or Galway or Leeds or London or Paris or Naples or Munich or Valencia, squatting in a house they don't own, fifteen or thirty of them, living like animals and creating a hygiene problem for the neighbours, who they will threaten with their big knives even as they beg from them and steal from the local shops.
Until once again, either the authorities will take their children into care and arrest them or deport them. And so the merry-go-round spins again.
The people of South Belfast are not the problem. Romanians are not the problem. Racism is not the problem. Far right organisations are not the problem. Policing is not the problem.
The Roma are the problem, and that problem was deliberately and disgracefully compounded by the pondlife of the Socialist Workers Party, a political movement of such extremity that they do not dare run candidates in elections.
Belfast has suffered many pogroms in the past. My own family were burnt out of an area in the Seventies during one of the most dangerous ones. The Thirties also saw some horrific pogroms too.
And of course, in the furore about the rights of thieving foreign gypsies to intimidate local communities, we have all seemingly forgotten how a Catholic man was kicked to death in Coleraine, his wife and a pregnant woman assaulted too, only a few weeks back.
That's a REAL pogrom, but 'Loyalist bootboys still murdering Catholics for kicks' isn't as sexy a headline as 'Race riots in Belfast' even if it has the benefit of being true.
But this week saw a new chapter being written in Belfast - the pogrom that wasn't. Despite the lies and the headlines, I think that's progress.
Related posts here and here.