The Sindonistas have swapped one form of tribalism for another.
The propaganda frenzy of the Sindonistas was as painful as it was predictable. President McAleese’s unwise foray into 1916 territory got them revved up but the recent Dublin riots sent them into almost manic overdrive. One relatively minor adverse consequence of the Dublin furore was the propaganda bonanza it presented to unionist and Southern revisionist spinmeisters. Interestingly enough the former have been relatively restrained and balanced seeing (correctly) a Southern state defined more accurately by the brave young man and women of the Gardai than by a lunatic fringe composed in no small part of invasive northerners. On the other hand one relatively benign consequence was that Kevin Myers’ mind was finally being taken off 1916. The Sindonistas, however, (of which group K. M. was a member in spirit,up to a point, even though he operated at the time from D’Olier Street) stuck their snouts in the newly replenished trough with almost indecent haste.
First out of the traps was Eoghan Harris with his muezzin-like call for collective national self-flagellation on national radio before the smoke had barely cleared and and serious reportage from journalists at the scene could afford a full picture. The riots were used by him to tar the South with the brush of sectarianism. By his mad logic the 1995 Lansdowne Road riots indicated an understream of fascism in the British body politic and Holy Cross signalled a closeted mass of Ulster Protestant child victimisers.
The recurrent Sindonista flaw of double standards was again apparent. From my fairly extensive readings (and I find their psychology endlessly fascinating) of most of the Sindonista output there was a general comparative silence about Holy Cross with a tendency towards tangential references. Not so with the Dublin disturbances which had to be milked to the nth degree to validate personal prejudices and spin-off pet theories.
Harris is nevertheless interesting and makes for an intriguing psychological deconstruction. His life history reveals an interesting metamorphosis from doctrinaire Marxist through to Official Sinn Feiner, FG adviser, UUP adviser, archrevisionist, and Bush apologist. All the hallmarks of a serial ideologue.
Having read his writings for years I see slow drift from objectivism and a creeping intellectual sclerosis where unionist equals ‘goodie’ and nationalist ‘baddie’ and also a curious process whereby the credibility he attaches to relevant material (viz. Peter Hart/Meda Ryan) is directly proportional to the extent to which this material substantiates his own prejudices.
He has made frenetic attempts to give wings to the canard of southern anti-Protestant sectarianism and Hell hath no fury like a Sindonista when this is flatly contradicted by actual Southern Protestants. Specifically I remember some years ago an unfortunate group of Southern Protestant Irish Times letter writers who tried to make out their Catholic co-nationals were not such a bad lot being labelled by him as ‘Uncle Toms’. The ‘Uncle Tom’ concept, in other words that they are spineless sycophants trying to keep in with their Catholic co-nationals, is regularly pressed into service by Mr Harris to explain away Southern Protestants who spike his ‘sectarianism’ leitmotif - and this in what now is one of the most openly self-critical societies in western Europe and the Mecca of the radio phone-in angstfest. He still seems to have remnants of Marxism swirling around in his subconscious - i. e. his penchant for psychopathologising those who disagree with him. The Marxists have the concept of ‘false consciousness’ to explain away recalcitrants. Mr Harris uses the concept of ‘Uncle Tom’ spinelessness to dismiss all those awkward ROI-loving Southern Prods. The revealing irony is of course that he is probably the most hostile (towards ROI Protestants) commentator around being that he regularly demonises the broad mass of this group who fail to show the desired level of grievance.
Where Harris uses expressions like ‘Uncle Tom’ and ‘happy Protestants’ Ruth Dudley Edwards uses ‘tame clerics’ – in which group I presume she includes the Reverend David Armstrong - a Cork-based minister who faced down threats and intimidation to take a stand against sectarianism when resident up North.
I read her book ‘The Faithful Tribe’ in the hope of getting fresh insights into Orangeism - instead getting a pretty lame attempt at whitewashing. Her objectivity, and therefore her credibility in calling for collective nationalist mea culpas, must be in serious question in view the clear disdain she holds for Northern nationalists:
The 500, 000 odd nationalists aggrieved at being trapped on the wrong side of the border after partition were described in ‘The Faithful Tribe’ as ‘terrible losers’. She described the West Belfast nationalist community as being ‘as brainwashed as North Koreans’. And an opportunity is rarely missed to stereotype NI nationalists as shifty circumlocuters.
Among the first to the ramparts in defence of Trimble’s ‘sectarian ROI’ tirades she has been sadly lacking in cogent supportive arguments for this contention and has had to do the best she could with trivia like the Angelus.
I often wonder if the Harris/Myers/RDE troika’s 1916 idee fixe relates to the distaste of Caliban on seeing his own image :
Here we have an unrepresentative and self-appointed cabal of superlative political propagandists who have taken control of a major communication centre and and are using this as a springboard to brainwash the nation with their particular exclusivist orthodoxy.
Now what does that remind you of?!
There is an amusing irony about the Sindonista regime. There is also a serious side. A small camarilla, fanatically determined and persuasive, but at the same time tunnel visionary and fixated have hijacked and corrupted the whole ROI-based anti-SFIRA agenda like the McCarthyites in 1950’s America screwed up mainstream anticommunism. Indeed there are similar elements of witchhunting –the McCarthyites looked for reds under the bed - the Sindonistas for anti-Protestant sectarians - past and present.
There is a described condition called ‘addiction transfer’ (e. g. reformed alcoholics becoming morbid overeaters). Similarly the Sindonistas have simply morphed from one form of tribalism to another.
Their intellectual dysfunctionalities are vaporously seeping into and emasculating rational anti-provisionalism. The creeping Sindonisation of the anti-SFIRA agenda means that those who would otherwise buy into it will be put off by their mantra of misbegotten contrition. Or if the Sindonista worldview becomes predominant it will lead to the effective marginalisation by the ROI of NI nationalists - the adverse consequences of which were all too clear during the Stormont era.
The virus of provisionalism has seeped into the body politic North and South and needs to be confronted by media analysts who can see all dimensions of a situation and who are untrammelled by the need to exorcise old ghosts and by the shackles of juvenile manicheanism. Indeed it could be argued that the negative spin-off from the Sindonista barrage perversely contributed to the SF electoral rise in the South.
Thinking over the insidious progress of the provisional virus against the background of Sindonistaism a statement from one of my old medical school lecturers springs to mind over and over again:
‘For God’s sake keep the patient out of the clutches of the quacks’.