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Metro Herald Letter: Irish-Speakers Are “Nazis”

A letter published by the Metro Herald newspaper calls Irish-speaking citizens of Ireland “Nazis”
A letter published by the Metro Herald newspaper calls Irish-speaking citizens of Ireland “Nazis” (Íomhá: Metro Herald 2013)

The Metro Herald is a free newspaper published in Ireland with both print and electronic editions, and distributed principally in Dublin city. On the 4th of November 2013 on page 11 of the newspaper under its “Mailbox” section it published a letter from a correspondent where he described the Irish-speaking community of Ireland as “Nazis“.

“Having moved house recently, I found myself at the unfamiliar bus stop checking the times and route. Guess what? All the bus stops were listed in Irish. It’s the same for the 15 other Dublin Bus ‘information’ boards I’ve since checked. So much for the majority of users who either don’t speak the language, or those who don’t know every placename in Irish. Talk about bowing to the Gaeilgeoir Nazis.

Aaron”

There are extensive laws in this country covering discrimination and incitement to hatred. I’m calling on all readers of An Sionnach Fionn to make an official complaint as stated in the procedures outlined here by the Office of the Press Ombudsman. The first action is a letter directly to the editor of the Metro Herald asking for a printed apology in the newspaper for the publication of a reader opinion liable to incite hatred towards Irish-speaking citizens and communities in Ireland. The address to send the letter to (marked “Confidential – not for publication“) is:

“The Editor, Metro Herald, 1st Floor, Independent House, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1”

I am further asking for emails to be sent to the Herald Metro at “info@metroherald.ie” with the following text:

“To The Editor,

Is it the policy of the Metro Herald to publish letters from individuals inciting hatred or discrimination towards Ireland’s Irish-speaking community as appeared in your publication in the 4th of November 2013 edition under the “Mailbox” section on page 11? Does the Metro Herald agree with the description by the letter-writer of Irish-speaking citizens or Gaeilgeorí as “Nazis”? What steps do the editorial team of the Metro Herald intend to take to rectify the publication of a statement expressing bigotry towards a sizeable minority of the nation’s population? Will you be issuing and publishing a formal apology to your Hibernophone readers while reviewing your editorial guidelines?

Furthermore does the Metro Herald support the provision of bilingual public signs in Dublin in accordance with the Official Languages Act of 2003? Does the Metro Herald accept that this is a legal requirement that Bus Átha Cliath is obliged to fulfil, along with many other regulatory requirements? Does the Metro Herald have an editorial position that opposes equality of treatment for Irish-speaking citizens with their English-speaking peers?

I await your answers with interest.”

In addition the newspaper can be be reached at its Facebook and Twitter profiles if some prefer to contact it via these platforms.

Please, I urge as many people as possible to help put a stop to the petty and casual bigotry that Irish-speakers and their families experience in Ireland both through the local and national news media. If we act we can stop it – if we fail to act then we will continue to allow ourselves or others to be victimised in this manner.

(With thanks to An Lorcánach)

24 comments on “Metro Herald Letter: Irish-Speakers Are “Nazis”

  1. Have you considered that the author of this complaint was not saying “Gaeilgeorí are Nazis or Nazi-like”, but was using the increasingly common, but trite, “grammar nazi” usage of “nazi” to mean someone who is deemed (by the user) to be excessively interested in X, be that grammar, the Irish language, sustainable food, etc.
    This doesn’t seem to me a good example of the negative (or as you might describe it hate-) speech directed at Irish speakers. Many of your other citations are more convincing.

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    • Acutia, in another context you would have a point. The letter writer could indeed have been engaging in some commonplace hyperbole with no greater intent behind it. However in this context I believe it is clear that he intended it as a pejorative and one with a clear discriminatory purpose. Calling Irish-speakers “Nazis” or “language fascists” is now a common part of the lexicon of Anglophone bigotry in Ireland. It is not intended to be tongue-in-cheek or somewhat disapproving. It is the rhetoric of hate.

      While the author of the letter may not have literally meant that Irish-speakers are “National Socialists” or members of a Neo-Nazi party he is clearly using the term in a pejorative sense. Which is how the vast majority of English-speakers would read it. What it illustrates to me (and I hope to others) is the common and commonplace culture of Anglophone supremacism, with its own brand of choice terms of abuse, that pervades Ireland’s popular culture. That a newspaper would publish such a letter, unedited, say’s much for the general views of the media.

      What if the letter had read: “Talk about bowing to the Homosexual Irish Nazis“? Or “Talk about bowing to the Afro-Irish Nazis“? Or even “Talk about bowing to the Jewish Nazis“?

      Would that line have ever seen the light of day in a major newspaper in Ireland? I doubt it.

      Yet, when the object of hate or derision is an Irish-speaker…

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      • I’m not sure you’ve convinced me, but I think I see the general Metro context clearer now.
        Though, I may have to clarify for myself this spectrum you outline i.e .

        As you might have guessed, I’m not an Irish speaker (though I am bi-curious, so to speak). In no way do I feel myself the target of this type of public speech, which could mean my response is possibly too disengaged to be able to sense “Aaron’s” implied intent.

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        • Your commenting engine stripped out a bit from my comment which I guess it though looked like HTML It went like this:
          “Though, I may have to clarify for myself this spectrum you outline i.e. negative – exaggeratedly critical – pejorative – abusive – discriminatory rhetoric of hate.”

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        • That’s fair enough, acutia. It is perhaps something you have to experience as a constant, a sort of background noise, to be aware of it when it occasionally changes to a higher crescendo.

          I’ve talked here (as have others) of my own experiences of having an Irish language forename and surname. On one hand it is silly humorous stuff without malice that you can take in good grace and even take part in. On the other it is unapologetically discriminatory stuff done with real antipathy. Its a mixed bag.

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  2. Sinéad Rohan

    No offence, acutia, but ‘Metro’ has form on this issue as it has (as far as I can remember) allowed mainly anonymous public correspondence using “Gaeilgeoir” as term of derision against Irish language speakers as many Irish people do – http://url.ie/jvrj – As far as I can tell the free-paper has printed emails/texts from the occasional Irish language enthusiast which unsurprisingly are predominately by non-Irish schooled readers. Sinéad

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    • John Mitchel

      “Irish language nazi” is a commonplace term used by regular callers to local radio, with the ‘Metro’ writer unable to separate ineptitude (Dublin Bus electronic signage) – along with poor service/ rude drivers generally (as seen from a letter in today’s ‘Metro’) –*from* Irish as a language: An Ghaeilge can’t be blamed! Do we blame the Spanish and Portuguese languages for the genocide of millions in Latin America since the fifteenth century? Or, in this instance, the German language for the rise of National Socialism? [Gave wrong e-mail address before: Corrected]

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  3. Perhaps someone should simply buy this idiot a map of the bus route(s). If no such map exists then he may have a point. For that matter are there any Gaelic editions of local town maps, street maps etc. ?

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    • The thing is most public bus signs in Dublin are bilingual or in English alone. The electronic bilingual ones consist of rolling LED text, Irish to English (or more correctly often Anglicised or translated versions of the original Irish), then back again. So the claim that he was lost is nonsense. All buses in Dublin carry route names in bilingual signs. So does most public transport in Ireland.

      Yes, bus route planners and maps exist. Official and unofficial Android and iPhone apps exist giving bus routes, numbers, times, etc.

      What he meant was that he simply objected to Irish being on the signs full stop 😦

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      • John Mitchel

        Reply from Alan Caulfield, editor of Metro (full text forwarded to …):

        “There was undoubtedly hyperbole on the writer’s part which you found offensive. We draw the line at racist, sexist, homophobic, hateful or otherwise abusive letters, but I think this person was just exaggerating to make a point and did not fall into these categories”

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        • Well done, John, you got further than me. Zero reply so far. Will mail you back. Since when has “Nazi” been an acceptable form of “exaggeration”? It is clearly and purposely an offensive term of abuse.

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      • OK, fair enough. Pity you didn’t do a proper job and ditch all the English names when you got indepencence, instead of just the few with ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ in them. Even English people can copt with DúnLaoire etc. 😉

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        • an lorcánach

          well, you’re wrong marconatrix: most irish people deliberately avoid pronouncing ‘dún laoghaire’ correctly (with the gaeilcised ‘doon’ – ‘done’-deal!) — personally i would have preferred keeping the placenames (and now long lost buildings) and instead jettisoned bilingualism, after all, when given a choice, where in this inferior-complex ravaged land would someone say “áras an uachtaráin” instead of “the presidential lodge”?

          “rhetoric of hate” – nicely put sionnach: was mentioned already here how pervasive this is – was told earlier as well that there was a disappointing response to postings placed this morning for the twitterati…. the white noise of hate has become too familiar and acceptable to the majority of irish speakers, apparently! @

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          • Yes, I noticed the sparse response by Irish-speakers themselves on Twitter, normally the great communicator for this kind of crowd-sourced protest. However two people I talked to by email, new correspondents, told me they supported what I was doing but that they were reluctant to do anything to help because they were afraid of the consequences. One said she thought if she posted something on Twitter to @MetroHNews it might effect her job if colleagues saw it. They might think she was a trouble-maker. The other indicated that he was worried he would be labelled a “RA-head”.

            Maybe that is common?

            Irish-speakers are so used to pleading, to the béal bocht, that they rarely demand, rarely show an dorn iarainn.

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        • Marconatrix, I always pronounce Dún Laoire with the “lw-” sound in “Laoire”. It confuses the hell out of most people 😉

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  4. an lorcánach

    spinelessness — — individuals perhaps are excused but government funded agencies like conradh na gaeilge, tg4, rté-r.na.g?! — — jobs aren’t designed to last thanks to european unionist ‘flexicurity’ – the real question is how long before this follows on towards its natural conclusion where people just don’t care what happens – beyond tragedy! @

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  5. Tá sé deanta agam, a Shéamas

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  6. I read this in the Metro-Herald at the time, it shocked and annoyed me at the time but being in transit at the time, I’d forgotten about it soon enough after reaching my destination.This reminded me and I opted to send the following message to their Facebook page:

    “To whom it may concern,
    3 days ago (4th of November 2013) the Metro Herald published a letter referring to Irish speakers as “Gaeilgeoir Nazis”.
    I appreciate that the complaint about purely Irish-language signage may be valid, and that Dublin Bus information boards should be visible in English. This does not excuse the statement “Talk about bowing to the Gaeilgeoir Nazis”.
    I speak Irish fluently and I enjoy the use of it where I can. This does not make me a Nazi. Not only is the charge of Nazism leveled against the community of Gaelgeoirí utterly false and offensive but it also trivializes the real suffering brought about by Nazi ideology and its followers.
    Is mise le meas,
    [My Name]”

    I sent that as a private message. It occurred to me afterwards that it may have been a better idea to post it publicly on their wall but as I’d sent the message, I decided to await their reply before doing anything else. No reply as of yet.

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    • an lorcánach

      There’s a picture submitted by a reader in today’s ‘Metro’ – admittedly the editor didn’t have to include the caption but he must have thought it something of a peace offering (can’t upload it here using fón póca but issue is found at metro-herald website by entering an email address)

      If only Joseph Stiglitz could speak beagánín Gaeilge…. national inferiority complex will destroy us all! @

      http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/green-light-for-plan-to-make-road-signs-more-irish-29736922.html

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      • an lorcánach

        Must have missed it but there was a reply in yesterday’s ‘Metro’ by Ian Mac an Ghaill — probably a technical glitch with the new bus signage that it didn’t go on rotation but judging from original letter to the free-paper, he already had prejudicial issues about language signage and Irish in general @

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  7. The writer of the letter is named, “Aaron”, eh? Interesting name. I wonder what ethnicity he belongs to. If “Aaron” doesn’t like the Irish language and culture, I’m sure he would feel more at home if he moved to Tel-Aviv, New York City or London instead.

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    • If you are going to judge Irish citizens by their name in this day and age then you are as bad as those who discriminate against Irish citizens who have a “Ó”, “Mac”, “Uí”, “Ní”, “Nic”, “Mag” or “de” in their surname.

      Aaron’s words are enough to condemn him without resort to silly inferences.

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