Like many people living in 2017, I find that everything is becoming increasingly more polarised. We are all products of our environment (I’m not sure who said that but I’m pretty sure it was a man with either a big hat or long hair). For the last several months, my evenings have been spent, mostly, in the company of my Dad watching news channels, reading the newspaper or listening to the radio. Previously, I got most of my political news from my good friend, Louis, over a can of beer. Both environments present slightly different “products”. I’m now a product of mainstream media. It’s neither positive nor negative. We can effortlessly switch between CNN or Fox or RT or even RTE (if we want something a bit more local).
After reading the above paragraph, you might be thinking,
“Oh shite, he’s gone political. He gets more than 10 readers and suddenly he thinks he’s the Pope and is now gonna waffle on and on about his own views. Well, feck that, I’d rather swipe across and read an article on BuzzFeed about hipsters”.
But, I implore you. Please don’t. I so rarely do this and I promise I won’t bore you. Previously I have resisted the urge to comment on things like Brexit, or Trump or the fact that Toblerone chocolates have gotten smaller (if you didn’t know that, for feck sake, open a newspaper). Why would anyone want to read about what I think? I’m not a critic, I have no political education, or experience and let’s face it (for anyone that has met me), I basically force my opinion on anyone after two glasses of wine. So they already know everything. But today, I discovered something that annoyed me.
Today, when we get annoyed, we do what any normal person would do. We put it on the internet. Unlike our ancestors who opted to do things like, going to war, taking part in a protest, or joining a trade union or a campaign for civil liberty, we can just click a button and add ( SUPER valuably) to a debate. We can update our status, change our profile picture and tweet and believe that we are changing the world. I am, of course, being sarcastic, but here I am, putting my views on the internet. It wouldn’t be a blog post of mine without a bit of self-mockery.
Here’s what annoyed me. You remember how everyone basically went tits up mental over the Trump ban. Remember that. He wanted to ban entry to the US to people from 6 ( or was it 7 ) predominantly Muslim countries. People were outraged. I was outraged. People said it was offensive. I felt that it was offensive. But said it was xenophobic. I said it was xenophobic. People said it was anti- Muslim. Eh, I was on the fence with that one. The top 5 largest countries in the world with Muslim populations were not included (Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt or is it Ethiopia, I’m not sure but neither were on the list). Moral of the story is, I was pissed off. The U.S had never done something like this. It’s sends a bad message to the rest of the world and is categorically unfair. It’s not what I thought the US stood for and it’s not my country stands for. Something like that would never happen in Ireland. We are a nation of immigrants, who were invaded several times, forced to flee our country in times of hardship or as slaves. We wouldn’t do something like that.
My mother is a nurse and was speaking to one of the doctors in the hospital today.
Mother – Ramadan is coming up soon, isn’t it.
Doctor – Yes. It is. Very shortly.
Mother – Is your Mother coming over for it?
Doctor – No. Not this year
Mother – She didn’t come last year either, did she?
Doctor – No she didn’t.
Slightly awkward pause (there’s never a completely awkward pause when Mother is involved)
Doctor – She can’t come.
Mother – Oh no. Is she sick.?
Doctor – No. She is not allowed to come.
Mother – What do you mean?
Check this guys! So this Doctor is basically a bad-ass. She used to work as Minister for Health in £$%^&. But left due to the war. Later that evening my mother repeated the conversation to me.
Mother – Did you know all that no one from £$%^& can set foot in this country. There’s a ban for the last 3 years.
Me – No. You must have got that wrong
Mother – That’s what she said.
Me – She must have got it wrong. I mean they would make it difficult. You need a visa and she probably has a history. But you can’t just say “Oh absolutely no one from this country in allowed in our country. That’s like, completely against international law.
This conversation would end up being extremely unique. In the sense that my Mother was right and I was completely wrong. You remember how everyone went basically tits up mental over the Trump ban. Remember that. He wanted to ban entry to the US to people from 6 ( or was it 7 ) predominantly Muslim countries. Oh, my country has already done that. We’ve done it to three countries – :@~()&&, ..,£%^%, and ^%$£&. It’s been in place since 2014 and the last country has only existed since 2012.
It’s not a ban on refugees. It’s not a ban on unaccompanied minors. It’s a complete and total ban on ANYONE from the country. There are exceptions, of course. If you work for an oil company or a beef purchaser, and you have previously been in our country, we may let you in. Everyone else… NO. And it gets worse. It’s not only that we won’t let you in, dude, we won’t even let you fly in. If you have a connecting flight (in which case, you move off one airplane and wait for the other one), we won’t even let you do that. You literally CANNOT set foot in our country.
You’re probably thinking, “God he’s really gone off on one here. He seems mad”. But I am mad. I’m so annoyed. All this outrage and disgust and what the US were doing, and hey, they were probably just taking a page from our book. And for anyone reading this, who is not Irish. Why don’t you take a look at your own country and see what rules apply there. Because apart from making people pay for plastic bags and duty free in airports, Irish government policy is rarely the first past the post in any situation. You can be sure, we simply just copied what many other countries were already doing.
An edited version of this piece will be sent to some of our national newspapers (whether they will actually read it, let alone print it, is another story). Also, we are handwriting a letter to our Minister for Justice to outline our pissed-off-ness and see WTF is the reason for it.
Now, maybe you’re reading and saying to yourself,
“Ok, so some nationalities are completely banned from your county, just because of their passport. I get it. But maybe there is some reason due to security or intelligence that you, Shane, typing in your brother’s bedroom, are not permitted access to”.
Well, Ok, good point. That remains to be seen. I don’t know why such a ban exists, but I know I’m pissed off. And I’m confused why everyone went crazy over Trump doing it when most of us, probably didn’t know, our own county does it too. It highlights, that maybe as “left, liberals” ( a polarising term, I know), we might not be as clued into shit as we think we are.
And please don’t interpret this as a “We need to lay off Trump and let the man do his job” article. Far from it. We need to criticise EVERYTHING and as the great Meryl Streep said “hold power to account, for every outrage”. Lets remember that Syrian refugees are still banned from the US, because they may present a threat to national security. And after the recent US bombing in Syria and killing an undisclosed number of civilians, I kinda think maybe the US is bigger threat to Syrian nationals. But like I said, we are all products of our environment. And from reading and watching the news that I’m seeing, it seems like no one gives that much of a shit about that.
Thank you for taking a moment out of your life for reading this (that is not AT ALL meant to sound sarcastic). I realise this isn’t the type of thing I normally write and if you’ve given the time to read all the way to end, I am very grateful. Still angry… but grateful.