Do not live in an echo chamber of your own politics, of your own likes and dislikes projected back at you. That is the most important thing any politically engaged person can do. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of only reading, watching or listening to those news and current affairs’ sources you agree with, be they “old” or “new” media. It is especially true of the internet where far too many of us cocoon ourselves within insulating layers of partisanship. Never to be offended, never to be annoyed, never to be challenged. The latter point is the most important. It is only by holding our beliefs to the fire that we can craft and shape them, discarding the weak and the untenable, hopefully emerging with something stronger at the end. Simply put, if as a republican you cannot expose your mind and intellect to those thoughts and ideas which run contrary to your own without loosing your Fenian faith then your beliefs are only shallow deep and were always likely to evaporate away.
That is why I pay close attention to the anti-republican press in Ireland, whether explicitly unionist or paraunionist. It is why I am not afraid to step down into the mire of right-wing or alt-right thought and expression, be it from corporate or independent sources. To buy or read a copy of the egregiously right-libertarian and partitionist Sunday Independent newspaper is to gain an insight into how one’s political rivals think. Unpleasant as that may be. Likewise with the Belfast Telegraph or other pro-union publications. So, my advice to all republicans would be, follow rational or mainstream figures on the ideological Right, especially on open platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Keep an eye on what the British-apologist or unionist writers and journalists are saying or promoting. Watch them passively or engage as you wish but at least know their arguments and claims. Or how else will you ever counter and defeat them?
Furthermore, have the courage to change your mind or recognise a fair point when you see it, regardless of its origin. None of us are “all right” or “all wrong” nor can individuals be crudely labelled or characterised as black or white. We live in shades of grey. Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them, and if your political opponents are the ones who teach you then all the better. You won’t make that same mistake again. Be generous in your assumptions and do not presume malign intent in others where none exists. Respect and politeness can take you a long way. As can finding the common or neutral ground which exists between all human beings. One of the best online conversations I have had recently was with a dyed-in-the-wool Ulster unionist utterly opposed to my politics but who was a huge – and frighteningly knowledgeable – fan of JRR Tolkien. We quickly discarded the argument about the history of the northern conflict and instead spent three hours debating the nature of Tom Bombadil and the socio-political geography of Arnor in the Second Age of Middle-earth.
All of which waffle brings me to the video below, from the American independent journalist Tim Pool but featured on the YouTube channel of Sargon of Akkad. The latter name is the online non de plume of Carl Benjamin, a British “content producer” and occasional provocateur who is much admired by the alt-right in the United Kingdom and well beyond (Americans are impressed by his middle-class English accent which they automatically equate with intelligence). Sargon publishes regular, almost weekly, video clips which analyse selected bits of the news from a position that is critical of the political Left. The channel, despite claims to the contrary, is very much a Trump-friendly affair which perhaps tells you all you need to know. However it does make for entertaining viewing, in the manner of Glenn Beck during his manic heyday on Fox News (though in fairness, Sargon is rather more studied in his partisanship).
The reason I am mentioning all this is the guest video by Tim Pool on Sargon’s YouTube channel which presents some interesting thoughts on the corporate press and independent news media. The reporter, formerly of Vice and Fusion TV, carries his own political baggage with him but the argument he makes is well worth a watch. Again, one can disagree with someone and much of what they say but still find things worth thinking about. Even if at the end you still disagree.