You may have missed it, but a man set himself on fire, on the Australian Refugee “Camp” island of Nauru this week. The 23 year old Iranian was trying to escape his countries regime, for a better life. His self-immolation was seized upon by the (prevalent) anti-refugee voices that inhabit the hallways of social media.
Reading through some of the “comments”, I was struck by the volume of people who agreed with the “let him burn” sentiments. When I, foolishly, dipped my toe in the water I was apparently “schooled” by “men who understand the world” better than I and had my argument dismissed by the brilliant quip: “If you have a day job, stick to it, liberal sh1t”.
Now, I know it was my own fault for engaging. But the downward spiral of vitriol really did leave me more than a little disturbed. Keyboard warriors they may only be, but they represent a sizeable portion of young and disaffected men. Young men, who learn off lines and peddle bigoted apologist nonsense, in the hope of out doing each other’s obnoxious literary gymnastics.
The centre piece of this particular stream of human devolution, was that Iran was not a war zone. As in, “He’s not fleeing war, so he’s not a refugee”. I could point out Iran’s human rights abuses. I could point out Nauru’s human rights abuses. Feel free to click on them later. But first I want to deal with what one of the posters said to me. “Words mean things”.
Apparently, this epiphany came to him when I (again foolishly) pointed out the weakness of his “no war in Iran” comment. I stated refugees flee all sorts of oppression; that this man might have been fleeing the Iranian Theocracy having challenged it, looking for a democratic society. This blew the mobs minds. I was done for. Everyone knows (accept me apparently) that refugees only flee war. That “refugees are defined as people fleeing war”, and that “words mean thing.”
But we were both wrong…
This morning (foolishly) I read the Sunday Independent; another mistake, in a week full of them. It seems the obnoxious literary gymnastics has slipped from the comments section and run wild in the “opinion pieces”. It seems, the word Populism is a virus.
Nor is it just the Spindo that’s infected, it’s endemic. Everywhere you turn, journalists are decrying the demise of Irish Water as a “lack of vision” and a “surrender to populism”. You see what they’re doing? They’ve decided, probably with the guidance of sales marketers, that they need an angle of insult the electorate, without been overtly offensive.
Populism serves nicely. Real populism means appealing to the general population against the status quo. Real populism means appealing to hopes and dreams of people, in order to challenge vested interests.
But this is not the populism of the Irish Journalist. They’ve bastardised the meaning. If you substitute Democracy for Populism it becomes clear. Suddenly Colm McCarthy’s “surrender to populism” reads “surrender to democracy”. I could go on…
Populism is another buzzword, like proactive, granularity and fiscal space. Terms used to infer a superiority of the user, while deflecting from the actual issue. By calling us populist, they are insulting us. They are saying the majority of the electorate voted wrongly. That they didn’t heed the warnings of Independent News and Media et al, they failed to give us the stability of Chumocracy.
No, it’s worse than that, they are now saying even though you voted against Chumocracy, you’re going to get it anyway. That we wouldn’t want to be governed by a populist (democratic) government, and that way lies chaos, apparently!
Everywhere you read “populism” remember they mean democracy. They don’t want to call us fools to our faces. So they call us populist. They don’t want to admit they cannot explain why the majority didn’t fall in-line. So they say we were swept up in populist promises. They are spinning furiously. Words mean things. Populism means you voted against their best interests. Yes, words mean things, lots of things.
But, let them eat populism.
Tony Groves May 2016