What’s striking about this now infamous video of the Ireland women’s soccer team chanting “ooh, ah, up the ‘Ra” is how obvious it is that they have no idea what they’re singing.
It might as well have been a nursery rhyme, for all they know or care.
Even when forced to apologize, they seemed to have no real understanding of why this had sparked so much offense from many at home. It was more like they were in a sticky situation and just wanted to get out the other side as soon as possible.
Still, some insist that the fault is not theirs but society’s.
“Perhaps it is time to update the history curriculum in Irish schools to include a chapter on terrorism on our island,” Fine Gael TD Ciarán Cannon suggested on Twitter, asking, “Not their fault, ours?”
Canon was right. But if the fault is ours, maybe it’s because we care what footballers say, sing, think or do in the first place.
The only thing footballers have to do is play football, just like actors only have to act well and singers have to sing. None of them need to know history or politics. That was once understood.
Only recently have athletes and other celebrities become spokespeople for every subject under the sun. The nature of modern fame dictates that being beautiful or talented is no longer enough. You also have to get involved politically. It usually ends badly.
But just because it’s foolish to expect anything better from them doesn’t mean they should get a free pass when they cross the finish line.
These young women are all in their teens and twenties. You are part of a generation that is absurdly sensitive to insults. A generation that controls language to the nth degree and ruthlessly “erases” anyone who violates its values.
At universities, this generation is happy “no platform” speakers with whom they disagree – they literally don’t allow their opponents to speak, using public shame and harassment to bully people for minor infractions like using the wrong pronoun, or for petty words, being fired from her job, lewd jokes. Armed with deadly buzzwords like racism, sexism, homophobia and their current favorite, transphobia, young people today see triggers for offense everywhere.
You name it, they’re offended by it.
Yet we are expected to rush to the defense of this generation when they find themselves at the mercy of the judging beast that created them. Welcome to the club. This is your world now.
However, it is those who tried to defend the Irish football team by saying they did not understand the context of the pro-IRA chant because they were not alive during the riots that deserve the most criticism.
These women are adults. Stop infantilizing them. They live in the same world as the rest of us. They have eyes, ears, brains. Just because something happened before you were born doesn’t give you a get out clause if you know and care about it.
At the same time, it is important not to let the topic become even more toxic than it already is. Unfortunately, the story has become partisan as unionists lodged complaints with police in Scotland, where the game took place. That was unnecessary.
There have even been calls for the team to be kicked out of the World Cup or for certain players who chanted “up the ‘Ra” to be expelled from the roster. That would be ridiculous.
The players have apologized. It has to be accepted. Demonizing them won’t help create a better atmosphere. But it’s still important to ask how it is that pro-IRA chanting chants are not only considered acceptable, but are so unobtrusive that alarm bells don’t ring.
What the footballers were doing, whether they wanted it or not, was normalizing attitudes that should be taboo in a tolerant, pluralistic country. But they didn’t do it in a vacuum.
They did so in a political and cultural context in which a surreptitious reference to the Provisional IRA’s assassination campaign is being deliberately implanted by a party that has for decades been the political wing of the same terrorist organization.
A lot of young people now seem to find the IRA “cool”. No doubt there will soon be t-shirts with the face of Martin McGuinness for young people to wear to festivals in the years to come, as is the case for mass murderer Che Guevara.
It’s ironic that young people – who we’re constantly told have denied older generations a unique wisdom and insight on everything from climate change to gender fluctuation that we need to listen to respectfully – seem so gullible that they can’t see that they are being played cynically for sinister political ends.
But the care goes way back. The US lesbian activist and conservative commentator Tammy Bruce wrote a book with the title back in 2001 The New Thought Police In it she notes, “Young people in their late teens and early 20s don’t just wake up one morning and decide that burning books would be a fun thing to do. The conditioning begins early and in ways that may at first seem harmless, or perhaps even appropriate.”
Likewise, young people in Ireland did not just wake up one day and start warming to the IRA. The roots were laid carefully. Sinn Féin has managed the IRA’s image for the long haul, and they were lucky with Brexit, which restored hatred of the Brit to a respectable middle-class pastime – a phenomenon many politicians were too slow or complacent to recognize.
In this context, pretending that chanting pro-IRA slogans is just harmless venting or a bit of cockiness is playing into bad hands.
Watch as many Republicans rushed to hail the video as footballers taking a stand against British colonial history, as if it stemmed from deep folklore rather than a wholly contemporary trend.
Former Sinn Féin propagandist Danny Morrison even predicted last week that “up the ‘Ra” “would now enter the mainstream lexicon as a mantra to stand up to established authorities, to express rebellion and in a different sense than visceral expression of triumph over misfortune”. .
He’s clearly excited at the prospect of “up the ‘Ra” becoming a 21st-century version of the civil rights slogan “We Shall Overcome.”
There could be no more telling example of how Sinn Féin seeks to bring its twisted thinking into the mainstream than by making false comparisons between peaceful civil rights campaigns and the bloodiest terror campaign in Western Europe since World War II. Those who content themselves last week with apologizing for the inexcusable of feeling sorry for the Ireland women’s team should beware where that can lead.
As a US psychologist recently observed, “As humans we are such social beings, we are so attuned to the signs or signals that we don’t belong.”
Exactly. Now imagine you are a trade unionist in Northern Ireland. What sign or signal is being sent to them by normalizing pro-IRA chants? It’s like they don’t belong. Are not welcome.
That should be the message of the old republican movement that came before the Belfast Accords and would end up on the dustbin of history.
Rising poll numbers are reassuring Sinn Féin they can safely return to old habits and don’t have to pretend anymore. Why should they behave better when they get their hands on the reins of the state?
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/its-those-who-defend-the-ira-chants-who-are-most-to-blame-42069515.html The main blame lies with those defending the IRA chants