The Real Problem in Europe

A rather formidable writer here at AT has written a synopsis on Hibernian anti-Semitism in Ireland, but I fear that he has misidentified the problem.  By defining the problem in particularistic Irish idiosyncrasies, the author woefully understated the core psychosis driving the anti-Semitism in Ireland – and more importantly, all of Europe.  To cure a problem, one must make the right diagnosis.

Ireland is far from unique in its anti-Semitism, and that is the more important issue.

G. Murphy Donovan, on American Thinker, wrote:

British influence may have been formative, yet a monolithic Catholic Church was dominant in Ireland for over a thousand years. Many Irishmen like to think of Eire as the land of “saints and scholars,” the most Catholic country in Europe. Many an Irish anecdote reveals, however, a darker side of Gaelic tribalism.

To lay a large part of the blame on an Irish strain of Catholicism, and Gaelic insularity, is off the mark.  These things existed, but they no longer operate with their former fury.  Catholicism is all but dead in the Irish Republic, while Calvinism is dying out in the North.  The contest was always nationalistic at the core, anyway.

I remember reading in college that the historian Roland Bainton stated that the Catholic experience in Ireland was a nationalistic reaction to the British.  Churchill admitted that a good portion of the problem was traceable to the sins of Cromwell.  Indeed it was.  Cromwell's semi-genocidal rampage through Ireland in the name of a Calvinist deity may have killed around 40% of the Gaels.  The Irish looked upon England the way many Jews look upon Nazi Germany.

In the Republic of Ireland, which is today free of British rule – though not British banks – Catholicism is on its last legs.  Catholicism survives in the North as a nationalistic response to continued British rule.  Oddly, if the pro-British Protestants of Ulster wanted to destroy Catholicism in Ireland, restoring Ulster to the Irish would be the most effective way to do it, as then Catholicism would hold little attraction to the Gael.

The Irish see themselves as victims of colonial oppression, which they were.  Only a fool could deny that.  That historical oppressor was the British, who for the latter half of that colonial period comprised supremacist Protestants.  But what about the first four centuries of that colonial period?

The Irish tend to gloss over that before the Norman British invasion in 1169, the Irish were not so much Roman Catholic, but rather Celtic Christians, affiliated with but not under the direct rule of Rome.  They allowed married clerics and had a mix of lay and abbot rule in their congregations.  Roman practices had made some inroads in the South, but the irascible Gaels were not yielding fast enough to centralized ecclesiastical hierarchies.

In 1155 AD, Pope Adrian IV, the only English pope, issued a papal bull, the Laudibiliter, to Henry II awarding Ireland to England if the English would only Catholicize the Irish, and get the Gaels to pay Peter's Pence to Rome.  At that time the English were strong Catholics, while the Irish practiced an all but extinct form of Christianity, which, ironically again, was closest to modern-day Anglicanism.  In 1169, the Normans invaded Ireland under the ruse of intervening in a civil war, and by 1171, Henry II took over using the papal bull as his authority.

The first British effort at religious coercion was quite effective.  By the sixteenth century, the Irish were solidly Catholic.  However, by the time of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, the Irish were rebelling against British tyranny; and when England decided to go Protestant – essentially to return to the state of Christianity that the Irish had practiced in the 12th century – the Irish had had enough.  They would no longer budge.  The opponents had flipped sides in religious allegiances, but, as noted, the core issues were cultural, linguistic, and national differences.  Yes, national.  The Irish may have been tribal, but they always thought of themselves as Irish, and they longed for a return to the rule of their high king from their ancient capital at Tara.

The irony of this is enormous.  The Orange (pro-British) Protestants of Ulster decry the pope at every breath, but they are in Ireland only because of a papal decree.  If they really hated the papacy, they would restore Ulster to the Irish and could live to see Irish Catholicism die out almost overnight, as its nationalistic raison d'être would evaporate.  Tell them that British rule is the pope's work, and one might expect a fight.

Conversely, the Gaels, who bemoan English tyranny and what it did to Ireland, should sever any connection to the papacy who sent the then Catholic Norman English into Ireland in the first place.  Some historians claim that history only fuels hatred in Ireland.  Actually, neither side seems to know its history at all.

And that is the root of the problem. Not Catholicism. Not Protestantism.  Rather, ignorance.

The Irish now see the Palestinians as an oppressed people who suffered under British and later Jewish rule the way they themselves did under England.  The very analogy indicates a total lack of knowledge.  History has been flipped on its head.

In reality, the Jews want Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) back the way the Irish want Ulster back.  The Palestinians are to some extent a foreign entity in the same way that the Plantation British were in Ulster.  Judea and Samaria – with Jerusalem and Hebron – were the religious center of Jewish national life.  Armagh, in Ulster, where Patrick supposedly built his diocese, was the historic religious center of Ireland.  The Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and the Orange settlers in Ulster were both later arrivals in someone else's national territory.  The Highlanders in Ulster might be Gaels, but they often took the Irish side in wars, and the English did not trust them.  Since most of the Orange were Lowlander-English, they were not Gaels, but a mix of Viking, Norman, and Saxon – that is to say, outsiders.

The real historical analogy was not lost on the Jews, though.  Yitzhak Shamir took the nom de guerre of Michael after the IRA's Michael Collins.

... the Irgun was re-organized “on IRA lines”, according to Walton, by Robert Briscoe, father of Fianna Fail TD and Mayor of Dublin Ben Briscoe, who travelled secretly to Britain in the pre-war years to meet and advise Irgun representatives.

It was not until Colonel Gaddafi offered weapons to the IRA that the Irish switched their "narrative."  I won't get into idiocies of accusing the Irish of Nazi sympathies.  Too many Irish fought in Allied armies, while the Irish government was slightly pro-Allied, detaining German aviators but returning Allied aviators who landed in Ireland.  The better analogy was similar to the Finns in their war against Stalin.  The Finns wanted back the Karelian province stolen from them by Stalin.  The Irish wanted Ulster back. 

For the Irish to see the Palestinians as their analogous compatriots is to flip history on its head, which, we have already established, is just par for the course among the Irish, irrespective of religious affiliation.

This leads us, again, to the root cause.  Into this vacuum of ignorance comes the leftist offering his anti-imperialist narrative, which is tailor-made for any Irishman.

And not just for the Irish, but also for Lutheran Protestant Norway, for Calvinist Scotland, and for secular France.  The left is parasitical.  It steps into the vacuum of historical knowledge – which no one teaches in school for fear of offending anyone – and offers a competing narrative.

Norway is not Catholic, yet it is equally anti-Israel, if not more so, along with the rest of Scandinavia.  One cannot accuse the Scandinavians of being under the thumb of the pope.  They have a history of anti-Catholicism in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

The Norwegians bristled at how they were once under the yoke of Sweden, and the Scots still bristle over the loss to England at the Battle of Culloden and their consequent loss of independence.

Even the Ulster Orange are bizarre in their thinking.  A few initially took a pro-Israel position because they assumed they were a chosen people like the Jews, when actually they are analogous to the Palestinians.  In fact, the anti-Jewish British forces in Mandatory Palestine were often filled with the same Black and Tans who earlier persecuted the Irish.  Today, some Ulster Orange cavort with Neo-Nazis.

Every summer since the first Drumcree siege in 1996 English Nazis have come over to Northern Ireland and been billeted in the homes of [militant Orange] members in Portadown and the Lower Shankill.

In fact, it seems some in Ulster are now becoming pro-Palestinian.  A non-sectarian Ulsterman, Gary Spedding, was recently deported from Israel.

You cannot blame this on Catholicism – whether you like or detest Catholicism – nor can you blame it on Protestantism, nor on Calvinism, which has its own problems.  It seems to cross denominational lines.  The Irish are no worse than the rest.

The blame falls squarely on a leftist ideology, which, like a cancer, takes over the narrative and replaces historical truth with fiction.  This is what is driving the lie.  This is the common denominator among Catholic Ireland, Lutheran Protestant Norway, Secular France, Calvinist Scotland, the Presbyterian Church USA, American Jews like J-Street, etc.

These groups are anti-Semitic not because they are this or that denomination.  They are anti-Semitic because they are leftist.

Mike Konrad is an American who writes on many issues.