Nobody can accuse MPs Me Wallace and Clare Daly, taking the easy route to popularity.
Inn Féin may have read the political mood and quickly discarded his soft stance on Putin. As recently as December, Sinn Féin’s sole MEP voted against a resolution in support of Ukraine’s independence, which said Russian build-up on Ukraine’s borders was a threat to peace in Europe.
But for Wallace and Daly, there can be no such reversals.
They stuck to their “principles” – and drew a torrent of criticism in the process — by being among the 13 MEPs who voted against last week’s European Parliament resolution condemning Russian aggression.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant urged people to have the courage to use their own reason and called this the motto of the Enlightenment. Wallace and Daly are certainly not afraid to use their own common sense, even in the face of near-unanimous public opinion, but how enlightened are their views?
And its resolutely independent and contrarian stance on this and other contentious global issues is admirable autonomy — or just perverse and ideological nonsense?
Certainly, the two steady friends have taken to some strange causes. Both have been staunch defenders of Russia on various issues, with Daly in the past condemning “relentless Russiaphobia” and arguing that support for opposition figure and poison survivor Alexei Navalny is part of an anti-Russian geopolitical agenda fueled by a military-industrial complex who needs an enemy to “justify their millions”.
Wallace, meanwhile, hailed China, saying it was doing a better job of addressing the concerns of ordinary people than Europe — Except that it’s not so good for the one million Uyghurs who are said to be held in counter-extremism centers.
He has also defended the appalling Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and questioned the conclusion of a report that the Assad regime used chlorine gas in a 2018 attack on the city of Douma.
Daly and Wallace were described as “an embarrassment to Ireland” when they traveled to Iraq to meet an Iran-backed militia — with Daly wearing a long black conservative khimar and speaking in glowing terms of the “beautiful” interaction at multiple checkpoints between humans and gunmen.
They were also punished in the European Parliament for undermining the EU’s work to promote democracy by traveling to Venezuela and Ecuador as unofficial election observers — a charge they deny.
Then there was Wallace’s infamous tweet after the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks: “So awful for the victims, but when will France end its role in militarizing the planet?”
Despite the flak, Daly supported her allies, later tweeting, “Unbelievable tragedy… casualties are on everyone’s mind but it’s always a good time to ask why or move on.”
Last week saw a similarly nuanced defense from the duo. They “wholeheartedly” supported clauses condemning the invasion, they said, but voted against the supply of military equipment and arms to Ukraine.
“Flooding Ukraine with weapons will not help Ukrainians. Instead, it will lead to a permanent state of conflict, as has happened in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria,” they said.
And while they unequivocally condemned Russia’s unprovoked invasion of a peaceful democratic country, they said that “both Russia and the West bear responsibility for creating conditions of instability and confrontation in Ukraine.”
Most observers will find ridiculous any attempt to establish equivalence between Russia and the West in terms of responsibility for events in Ukraine. But for Wallace and Daly, it seems to be the West — and in particular the “Great Satan” of the USA — is always at least partly to blame. In some cases, much more than just partially.
Is their alignment with, or partial defense of, authoritarian and unsavory regimes then simply a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?
There’s no doubt that Wallace and Daly genuinely believe in the positions they take — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t often seriously misjudged. Her line on Assad’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma is probably the most egregious example — until last week.
Some have speculated that the time they spent in Europe left them out of touch with their constituency and public opinion. But you’d have to live on the moon not to be aware of the strength and unity of public opinion about Ukraine over the last 10 days. And besides, none of them have ever been shy about speaking their minds.
This outspoken, contrarian approach has worked well with voters in the past, particularly in the European elections. The question is whether the combative combo has gone too far for voters this time with their stance on Ukraine. Not that it will deter Wallace or Daly in the future.
change Kant. Will not change.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/perverse-and-contrarian-wallace-and-daly-back-themselves-into-a-corner-41415639.html Perverted and contrary, Wallace and Daly back into a corner