Tea, Sympathy and Donkeys

I can…. I c-c-c-can… *woah*…

Deep breath there Brady, you can do it. 

I can see, well kinda see… ah, what the hell: 

I can kinda see Leo Varadkar’s point.

There.  I said it.  I can see Leo Varadkar’s point.  Was that so hard?

Oh man, you will never know how difficult that really was.  Me, agreeing with Mr. Smiley Tonsils Varadkar, the man who never ever saw a photograph of himself that he didn’t instantly fall in love with.

Yet what do you want the guy to do?  Rewrite the Constitution? 

Not a bad idea, come to think of it, considering that the Constitution was written at a time before we had people like the charming Lisa Marie Smith on the scene.

As of my writing this, Lisa Smith is under detention and will be questioned by the United States after being captured and detained as an enemy combatant with a United Nations-designated terrorist group.

Now, I know that I’m living in an age when we’re supposed to feel sorry for everyone.  This is a ludicrously touchy-feely era when we are subtly being trained to  forget about the feelings of those affected by utter outrages and are supposed instead to try to understand the motivations of those who perpetrate or are apologists for those same outrages.

Lisa Smith is no victim, you can be damned sure of that. She is a grown woman of 37 and has made her own choices.

She chose to become a soldier in the Irish Army.  Just stop for a moment and think about that:  at one point in her life she chose to serve and to protect the country that she was born in.

She also chose to convert to Islam in 2009.  And good luck to her if it had only stopped there. Each to their own, I always say.

But it didn’t stop there, did it?  She also chose to become more and more extreme.  Far too extreme in fact for the vast majority of decent Muslims.

She chose to marry and move to Tunisia where she had a child with her husband.  And as her extremism and interest in Islam grew she chose to leave the husband and leg it over to Syria (as you do) where she moved onto someone else and had another child.

This is a woman who has lived one hell of a life.  Dictated by her own choices. Seriously, you want me to pour the tea and sympathy now that she finds herself detained by the Americans and might be feeling a bit homesick? 

This is my context:  I chose to leave Scotland in 1977 and travel across Europe.  In 1979 I visited Ireland, fell in love with the place and stayed.  Despite my misgivings about ALL of the damned bloody power systems that we all live under, I LOVE this country.  I’m not the kind of person who joins in with anything, to be honest; but… if I had chosen to join the Irish army it would have been for a country and for people that I love and care about.

Because we can say what we want to here.  I love books and movies and theatre and I’m not looking for permission to pursue my enthusiasms because I already have that. 

I’m lucky.  I am very, very lucky.  I don’t live in a country where my simple pleasures are hemmed-in. 

But I DO live in a Brave New World where some wish to see my simple pleasures taken from me.  I DO live in a world where the books and films and plays that I read and watch would be denied to me if certain others were in charge.

And Lisa Smith represents one group that would take those from me if they could.  I am under no illusions about that.

Through my work, I’ve also been privileged to see how things are in other parts of the world, having travelled and worked in places from Mexico to Panama to Africa and a couple of dozen other countries.  But it’s always going to be Ireland and its people that I love to the core.

So I don’t get people like Lisa Smith.  Sure, I’m probably considered old-fashioned at this stage and I could give a monkey’s cuss about that – hell, let’s be honest and say I’m a dinosaur in this Brave New World – but I can still recognise a traitor when I see one.

Yeah, I know: ‘Traitor’.  Old-fashioned word from an old-fashioned man.  But what else are you going to call someone who does what she has done?

Yet I can also see why Leo Varadkar has said that Smith will be allowed to return here with her son.  With the law as it stands, what else can he say?

God, we are soft.  Those who are not only against our easy-going way of life but would spit in our faces whilst actively working to take it from us , those  are the ones we are told to embrace when it all goes pear-shaped for them in Syria or points East and they want to come back.  Having abandoned a decent country like Ireland, they want to come back when times get tough.

I don’t want them back.  No harm to them, but I don’t want them back.  They’ve been radicalized and I’ll be damned if I tolerate one of these dangerous, easily-led headcases living in the same neighbourhood as me.

And if Varadkar could speak openly I’m sure he’d be of the same opinion.  But he can’t. And his hands are tied.

God, it never rains but it pours.  Damned if I haven’t been feeling a bit of sympathy for transport minister Shane Ross as well.  Can it get any worse?

Lord Ross of Stepaside got himself into a spot of bother recently for saying that Sinn Fein’s Imelda Munster was ‘like a donkey in the last race at the last fence’; and cue the predictable outrage.  It’s really come to something when those who have entered the rough-and-tumble world of politics suddenly become shrinking violets over something that really isn’t much of an insult in the first place.  After all, this is pretty mild compared to some of the things that have been thrown at the Shinners over the years.

I was going to try to say something witty about it, but on hearing the news that is just coming in as I write, concerning the appalling terror attack on a mosque in New Zealand, I just no longer feel like it.

And warped white supremacist lunatics like Brenton Tarrant are a timely reminder to people like myself of the flip side to what I was saying earlier.  These people had as much right to go about their simple pleasures as I have to go about mine.

As a fellow human being I can only grieve with and for them.  What a world we have created for ourselves.  Sometimes I despair; I really do.