The Narrow Minded Bigotry Doesn’t Come from Kevin Myers…
Irish American News, September 2017
Well, of course, if there was any REAL Justice in this sad old world at all, then Irish journalist Kevin Myers would not only have been sacked from his position with the Sunday Times, he should have been strung up. Hung from the highest tree, I tellz ye, after being chased down the street by all right-thinking, free-speaking folks waving lighted torches, brandishing pitchforks and dancing around like something straight out of Salem during the witch trials. What he said was unforgivable, as you will know if you’ve been following the Saga of Ku Klutz Kevin and his dreadful, awful, utterly deplorable anti-Semitism.
Except…wait; can I be a dissenting voice here for a minute? May I go so far as to suggest that maybe Myers isn’t being pilloried simply for his supposedly outrageous comments? That maybe… just maybe… this is a case of payback with a vengeance? A lot of people don’t like Kevin, you see; and they have obviously been waiting in the long grass for just the right occasion to put the boot into him.
The seventy-year-old Myers has been writing an opinion column since around the turn of the century – the previous century, it sometimes feels like. Sometimes I agree with what he’s saying. Sometimes I don’t. And sometimes he actually makes me want to pull my own teeth out with a rusty pair of pliers. But he’ll generally give you a different take on something and he’ll always make you think.
His take on Irish history has often been called ‘revisionist’, for instance. Now if you use the word ‘revisionist’ in terms of Western movies and sling in the names of Sergio Leone or Sam Peckinpah, you’re paying a compliment; but use that word in conjunction with Irish history and the Tribe of the Perpetually Offended are up on their high horses, fingers pointing at the grumpy guy who can’t stick with the official narrative. The giveaway on what Myers is doing SHOULD be in that they are usually called ‘opinion pieces’. And whether or not you agree with him then it has to be said that generally he has actually given you an informed one, as opposed to some of the Barstool Philosophers you can hear in your local any night of the week.
However, it was a bridge too far at the end of July when Myers penned a piece on why he thought that women were getting paid less than men. There was a bit in there to offend everyone (well, at least those who aren’t having a good day unless they’ve found SOMETHING to offend them) but most of the ire was centred on the fact that he singled out two women who WERE paid on a par with men: BBC presenters Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman. In the section that damned him to Eternal Hellfire he wrote:
“Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity.”
Pretty innocuous, I would have thought. To me, it even read as a compliment. (Then again, as someone notoriously bad at handling money I would have been happy to have him say this about me, even if he did mention my religion.)
What I found most…oh, I’m trying to be kind here…unseemly were the sheer levels of bile that were turned on him. The piece was pulled almost immediately on both sides of the Irish Sea; Myers was given the bullet from his job; and blood was smelled in those waters.
“Undiluted anti-Semitism and misogyny” screamed the Financial Times, whilst in Ireland the Sunday Independent worked itself into a right old frenzy as it trumpeted: “London society burns Myers – but why did the Sunday Times publish toxic rant?”
London society? Heck, why don’t we just doff the cap and tug the forelock whilst we’re at it?
As expected, the ludicrous Vanessa Feltz went completely OTT, calling the article “blatantly racist” and as of today is still rabbiting endlessly on and on about how damaged she is feeling; on the other hand Claudia Winkleman, as of this writing, has not seemed all that bothered.
Oh, there was blood in the shark tank, no question of that. There was unmitigated gloating that was more offensive to me than anything Myers EVER wrote; and columns of his dating back years were pulled. And yes, you read that correctly: columns that were deemed fit for publication nearly a decade ago were deleted whilst those who should have been defending his right to free speech – his fellow journalists – raised a glass to the uppity git getting his just desserts handed to him. Again, I find the taking of pleasure in a man losing his livelihood just a wee bit offensive; but that’s just me.
To complicate matters, the Irish Jewish Council took his side, and quite rightly so. Chairman Maurice Cohen stated that: “More than any other Irish journalist he has written columns about details of the Holocaust over the last three decades that would not otherwise have been known by a substantial Irish audience”; and added that it was his “curmudgeonly, cranky, idiosyncratic style” that had led him to “ a real error of judgment”. He went on:
“The knee-jerk responses from those outside Ireland appear to care little for facts and pass on (along with media outlets) falsehoods about his previous writings without verification. This has been exacerbated by a thoroughly misleading headline being sent around the world that is wholly unrepresentative of the article to which it refers.”
I would add to Myers the name of another fearless Irish journalist, Ian Doherty, who regularly takes a pro-Israel stand. And that’s a position I agree with. For all its faults I tend to side with the only democratic country in that area – itself home to many thousands of Arabs, a fact often brushed aside—which is surrounded by those who have stated that they want Israel wiped off the map.
It’s not a popular opinion in Ireland, where only a few years ago no less than 61 Irish academics wrote to the Irish Times asking for a complete global boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education. I’d have to wonder why the names of, say, Saudi Arabia or Sudan or China weren’t mentioned first. But I’m not a learned professor.
Four years ago the Teachers’ Union became the first in Europe to agree to boycott Israeli academia. Seriously, what the hell is that about? Passed unanimously, of course. Wouldn’t want teachers of all people to think for themselves, would we? That might not suit the European Union, no great friends of Israel.
Or how about the recent nonsense with various Irish city councils voting to fly the Palestinian flag? And nearly having a fit when it was suggested that the Israeli flag be flown alongside – you know, for a bit of balance, like.
Openly supporting terrorists now, are we? Charming.
Myers is no anti-Semite; but you wouldn’t have to scratch far beneath the surface in Ireland to find plenty who truly are.