Home Rule Is Caliphate Rule

 

Pastor James McConnell

Pastor James McConnell

Without getting all Freudian about it, is there not some sort of crude, even mechanical transference at work in the remarks of both Pastor James McConnell and Peter Robinson, vis-a-vis Muslims?

I am old enough to remember the now venerated old timer Ian Paisley issuing bloodcurdling sermons against the evils of Catholicism, singling out the Pope as the Antichrist, but covering his tracks when challenged by saying that it was not Catholics as such that he had anything against, but rather the religion to which they were enslaved. Paisley even went as far to disclose that he loved Catholics.

But as various former loyalist paramilitaries have admitted, this demagoguery delivered the impetus for them to imagine Catholics as a whole as the enemy, and to conclude, when it came to finding some scapegoat, that “any taig would do.”

The new dispensation in Northern Ireland means that this kind of Manichaean religious discourse can no longer use Catholics as its object and enjoy any great public support. Not least because Peter Robinson and other DUP figures go to GAA matches and such with Martin McGuinness, but also because the image of uppity Catholics out to uproot the lost tribe of Israel from their land has a lot less currency than it used to, as there are a lot more middle class Catholics around these days, and they don’t appear particularly dangerous.

It’s true that NI is still a sectarian society, and it’s hard to see how it could be anything else, given the nature of the current political settlement. But there is far less sectarian tension and fear, as illustrated by the lack of people getting shot dead. Many unionists are not enthused by the prospect of a united Ireland, but they’re hardly quaking in terror either.

What I wonder is, if the division between Catholic and Protestant is no longer a reliable marker of lines of confrontation, and even, in the political sphere, the division between nationalist and unionist, how does that shape the religious imagination of NI’s, er, ‘homegrown radical clerics’?

There must be some kind of anxiety about the fact that chest-puffing ‘Britishness’ has very little political content, and such clerics must be mindful of the germ of Scottish independence and how it undermines their sense of being different from their neighbours, or at least the way in which they feel and declare themselves different.

So perhaps the designation of Muslims as the new religious enemy is a way of cementing imagined ties to ‘the mainland’, in light of the fact that Muslims are now the main object of suspicion on account of Britain’s most recent imperial escapades and a press that demonises them.

The political credibility of the ‘liberal Unionism’ of the likes of Mike Nesbitt and even Basil McCrea is pretty thin; it has to do more with keeping things the way they are through misty-eyed evocations of things British, without ever articulating just what it is in political terms that they find so attractive.

Whereas Peter Robinson and his political allies in unionism still have to rely on support drawn from reservoirs of resentment, based on an expectation that “we” (i.e. the imagined unionist community) are all in this together and our political leader will see us right. Well, maybe there are limits to how convincing this sort of thing is when the spectre of Rome is not haunting Norn Iron.

And it is at this point that the gaze turns to the Muslims.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Home Rule Is Caliphate Rule

  1. Reblogged this on Political Pip Spit or Swallow its up to You and commented:
    The awful thing about what Ian Paisley Snr said about the RCC in Ireland i,s like him or loath him, how much of it has proven to be true.

    Islam is dangerous to women if it were a religion stuck in the middle ages that would be bad enough; its not its a political ideology and system. It should be condemned by everyone but particularly by women who take their hard won not quite equal rights for granted at their own risk and worse at the risk of all women.

    • completely disagree with your comment and find it extremely uninformed and dangerous. Islam is a religion, with its historical political side – like all other religions – and I hate all religions equally and don’t see a difference between them. I know it may be hard for some to picture a map of the world, probably because media has confused their tiny minds, but if you google it you will see that islam spreads across many countries, with many cultures and many forms of government. I lived in a muslim country for over a year and there was no violence against women, there was no Daily Mail spouted cliche’s happening. There was religions oppression of woman, no different to other countries, but this was only with fanatics, like in all other religions it was the minority (generally more uppper class) and NOT all muslims. I have many muslim friends, who practice, and are as liberal as anyone else in today’s society. It is plainly obvious to me that ALL religions oppress in some form or another, but to believe that all muslims should be painted with the one brush thats promoted from western media war machines is completely lacking any ability to think for yourself. What the RCC did in ireland didn’t happen everywhere, what the taliban does isn’t happening everywhere.

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