So the online current affairs website, The Journal, has published yet another opinion piece on the Irish language and the Irish-speaking community in Ireland, albeit this time in the novel form of a so-called “video documentary”. However don’t expect the unfamiliar medium to lead to unfamiliar content. No, when it comes to the indigenous language of this island nation the rhetorical rules of old remain the same: Irish baaad, English goood. Of course this is simply a modern form of “settler racism”, part of the poisonous legacy of several centuries of foreign colonial rule in this country. Never mind the anachronism, feel my contempt!
What we are dealing with here is the animosity of those who chose to live within a mental, cultural and linguistic “Pale”, and the disdaining of those who chose to live outside it (or god forbid, actually challenge it). So reach for the usual distortions and misrepresentations, the voodoo statistics and false equivalences, the implied calumnies and outright libels. Oh yes, the opinions expressed in the video are presented through a tone of studied tolerance, quizzical eyebrows, pained expressions and the odd occasional lapse into vulgarity to punctuate a point. However, if one strips the production of its fake reasonableness it becomes clear that what we are viewing is a #Brexit-style video for those seeking a #Gaelexit. And factually it holds just about as much sense and reason.
Thus the anglophone lobby’s favourite quote, the alleged government spend of €1.2 billion per year on the Irish language, can be laid alongside the £350 million a week extra for the NHS promised by the “Leave” campaign in the UK or Donald Trump’s pledge to spend billions of dollars on building a wall between the United States and Mexico. It’s simply not true, not in the British and American cases, and most certainly not in the Irish one. So please, don’t talk to me of Irish being a dying language, of a tongue on life-support, when you are the one standing there with the murder weapon in your hand. Even if you claim innocence, demanding that the plug is pulled on a victim too strong to die, so determined to hold onto life that you despair of them ever passing away, makes you just another accomplice in a linguistic and cultural homicide.
Sure, wouldn’t it make your great-grandparents proud of ya?