Jeremy Clarkson and Oisin Tymon
Further to the alleged racist and violent assault by BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson on his Irish producer.
Padraig Reidy, Irish born-journalist in Britain, writes:
…The queer thing about anti-Irish racism (and its partner, anti-Catholicism), is that a hell of a lot of British people are in denial about its existence (trust me, Irish people are not). It was, certainly, worse during the “Troubles”, but there is a mistaken belief that the Troubles was the sole reason for anti-Irish feeling.
In truth, of course, it is a hell of a lot more complicated than that. Ireland was one of the first colonies: justification for all colonisation, then as now, is partly found in the dehumanisation of the conquered.
The Irish, with their distinct laws, customs and language, were not really fit to rule themselves (how often is that sentiment echoed today?); we were not diligent, we were not to be trusted: they were, as Mr Clarkson would allegedly have it, “lazy Irish c**ts”.
Every so often, a well-meaning British liberal friend will either a) declare matily that “we’re all the same” and what the hell was all that fighting about, eh? or b) inquire archly about whether, considering the decades of quasi-theocracy the Irish republic endured, and the apparent corruption of the political system, was the whole independence thing really worth it?
And every time, you remind them: yes. We were a colony. We were stripped of land, language, identity. We were routinely demonised and patronised.
…we were not, and never would be viewed as equals by the British establishment. Every Irish person in Britain knows the little nod, the little wink. More often now it is disguised as affection, or indulgence (“Oh, you funny people” is always implied).
But the undertones are the same: feckless, violent, drunken. And occasionally, someone like Clarkson, who, as better writers than I have pointed out, is simultaneously at the very heart of the Establishment while feigning to rail against it, will let it all spill out, in full vitriol.
And we’re back with an image that easily resonates with Irish people: an English toff assaulting a “lazy” Irish lackey for not doing his bidding. What we hoped we’d be able to leave behind.