From top: Nigel Farage arrives at Trinity College, Dublin ahead of last weekend’s Irexit conference; Dan Boyle
If ever a picture spoke a thousand words it was that photo of crombie wearing Nigel Farage, with his Wolf from the Three Little Pigs swagger, on his way to the recent Irexit meeting.
The demographics of those who attended there were as telling. Overwhelmingly male in its composition, the men in question seemed made up of a weird coalition of an embittered older cohort, nestling with an angry and disappointed group of younger men.
The unifying theme was a common desire to shake collective fists at a society that had let them down. A society, that all too slowly, has been leaving behind its domination by a male, monochrome, homogenous group, the residue of whom now see themselves as society’s new victims.
The liberal in me thinks we should listen more to these tormented souls; seek to understand the landscape they inhabit. The social realist in me feels that the more time we give to placate the hate filled and the small minded, the more they are likely to believe that their views have validity.
The illiberal me is winning this internal argument. I have spent most of my adult life wishing such people, and their distorted views, away. They have lingered, and have re-established themselves, through misappropriating the language of freedom and tolerance. They seek freedom for others to be less free than them. They seek tolerance to be intolerant of others.
They seek to explain way their inadequacies through the blaming of others. Those of different skin tones; of different cultural backgrounds; of different religious or political beliefs; of different gender.
They fear difference wishing only to celebrate sameness. Only the tools of their celebration are hate and anger.
They find a solace with being among their own kind. Being in a collective emboldens their belief they are among ‘right thinking’ people. They are transferred, instantly, into a rotisserie of racists, a harem of homophobes, a melange of misogynists. At their most dangerous they become a falange of fascists.
As with most bigots what they often most hate about others, is especially what they hate about themselves – a perverse form of self loathing.
I no longer have the patience to be nice to those who believe niceness to be a weakness. I don’t want to hold any truck with anyone who seeks to divide and compartmentalise.
I live in a community within a city, part of a region, part of a nation, part of a wider World. A planet. All of which is, and should be shared.
Ignorance needs to be challenged, confronted and faced down. We should never condone its existence or that of hate. We should never give succour to any discredited version of a mythical past, or plans for a hateful future.
With all due respect to the late Spike Milligan, this Goon Show has run for too long. If the Goons participating in this version insist on following the likes of Nigel Farage, then he and they should prepare for some walking backwards (for Christmas) across the Irish Sea.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle
Top pic: Reuters
Dan Boyle’s ‘Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ published by the History Press is available at all good bookstores now.