Written on: 14. 4. 2021 in the category: Uncategorized

Sanctimonious O’Toole in the Gutter Again

Share this now:

It’s generally advisable to ignore the opinions of your enemies. But sometimes, one has to ignore the rules of common sense and give some publicity to your foe.

I’m talking about Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times. In a career that has for years been distinguished by its disingenuousness and the rank dishonesty of its argumentative rhetoric, he has seldom plumbed the depths that he did with his vilely dire column about Prince Philip this week, headlined “asylum-seeker and citizen of nowhere, but rich and white.”

This is typical of O’Toole’s habit of conflating intellectually unrelated issues, which on this occasion even referred to the genocide of the Jews. In a survey of recent British history, he said: “In October 2016, high on the fumes of Brexit, the then prime minister…. Theresa May attacked those who “have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road”. She warned that “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”.

He re-interpreted her words as follows: “May was invoking a trope used against Jews by both the Nazis and by the Stalinist Soviet Union: the rootless cosmopolitan.”

This is simply astounding. To have compared Theresa May – apparently “high on the fumes of Brexit” – which she had opposed – with the anti-Semites of the Third Reich and the USSR is an honour perhaps never before conferred upon a British prime minister. You can argue that May was wrong (and I would not) in her observations of the “citizen of the world”. But she did not use the term “rootless cosmopolitan,” and you cannot intellectually or morally suggest that her opinions can in any way be linked to the murder-machines of Auschwitz and the Gulag archipelago.

To do so is worse than defamatory. It makes her a retrospective handmaiden of The Final Solution. But such artful misrepresentation is what O’Toole routinely does, and the Irish Times routinely allows him to get away with it.

Four years ago, he joined the (highly-successful) lynch-mob against me, inventively alleging that I had said that a successful woman must be a ‘monstrous harridan’, a term I have never used. Of the pay-controversy in the BBC at that time, I wrote: ‘Of course, in their usual, pitifully imitative way, Irish tabloids have tried to create a similar controversy here. That’s impossible, because of the ubiquity of Miriam O’Callaghan and Claire Byrne across the airwaves.’

O’Toole’s version of this runs as follows: ‘Myers tells women to forget equality and man up – but then complains about the ubiquity of Miriam O’Callaghan and Claire Byrne on the airwaves.’

As you can see, a complete fabrication; a process he clearly understands thoroughly when we look at his next words about the late prince.

“So why is Prince Philip’s rootlessly cosmopolitan background of so little concern to the culture warriors of the right? The answer is in those baby blue eyes……”

There we are; a straightforward accusation of racism. As confirmation, he continued…..

“You don’t have to look very far to confirm this. Think of a more recent arrival into the royal family who was neither privileged nor white. Think of the stories that have been woven around her, the stereotypes so blankly applied: pushy, insidious, ambitious, dangerous.”

This presumably means Megan Markle. Just where have these stereotypes appeared? Who has even heard a single racist remark about her either before or after she did a Wallis Simpson on her idiot of a husband and took him off to California? Indeed, so little did the media make of her origins that I didn’t even know she was of mixed race until I saw a photograph of her mother at the wedding, an event which the New York Times eulogised over its “blackness”. (Imagine any newspaper eulogising over a wedding’s “whiteness”.)

If the royal family were genuinely racist, and obsessed with colour – as in “The answer is in those baby blue eyes……” how was it that four years ago Her Majesty personally appointed a Ghanaian-born officer of the Household Cavalry, Major (now Lt Colonel) Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, as her equerry to take the place of Prince Philip at Royal occasions? He thus became an honorary if temporary member of the Royal Family: and not even mixed race, but wholly African.

Of Philip, O’Toole then sneered: “Even the extreme privilege he attained through his marriage is construed as a kind of martyrdom: he gave up everything for his adopted country.”

He arrived in England poverty-stricken, but then began a remarkable career in the largest navy in the world. He turned out to be an outstanding and courageous sea-officer during the war and would very probably have ended up as First Sea Lord, but that possibility vanished with his marriage to the Queen (an event which O’Toole seedily describes as: “this nomadic adventurer, this nowhere man, seduces the princess royal”). He then buckled down to seven decades of wearisome public service. The only time I met him was at Buckingham Palace about eight years ago, when he was stoically enduring the horrors of yet another state reception, at eight in the evening shaking the hand of every single person present. He was then 91.

O’Toole then used Philip for a sideswipe at Britain. “An elite, cosmopolitan, transnationally European immigrant can be, not just “one of us”, but a touchstone of British belonging. He can personify a national self-image of mild irascibility, bluff superiority and ramrod steadfastness. But only when it suits the story. And when it doesn’t suit, (my italics) the asylum seeker, the outsider, the person with multiple and complicated national identities, the stateless wanderer, the person seeking to make a new life in a new country – all of which Philip was – is a threat, an interloper, a trespasser on the sceptered isle.”

That ludicrous mis-spelling aside, this stuff about any other stateless wanderer in Britain being regarded as an “interloper and trespasser” is a grotesque falsehood. London is now 54% non-white or ethnically non-British. Leicester, Bradford and Birmingham have comparable figures. The Home Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, his predecessor and the Mayor of London are brown, and sixty-five black or brown MPs are in the Commons with another fifty black or brown members of the House of Lords. Britain has probably been the most welcoming country to immigrants in European and perhaps world history, far more so than Ireland. The truths listed above are revealed by a few seconds on the internet, so O’Toole is either a liar, an idiot or pathologically lazy.

If he’s lazy, he really is lazy. O’Toole has exactly the same access to the internet as the rest of us, though with rather more homes from which to do it: a renovated and hugely enlarged cottage on the Burren and another home in Dublin. And perhaps he also has retained one in Princeton, where he has lectured. Either way, he’s certainly in a fine position to talk disdainfully about rich white men.

One of the defining characteristics of O’Toole’s journalism is its unrelenting and personalised nastiness towards the causes and the people he dislikes. Hence his observations about Brexit: “The fascination lies, rather, in the way the shaping of this story allows us to see how bogus the whole anti-elitist, anti-cosmopolitan, anti-European, anti-immigrant discourse around Brexit really is.”

This is simply stand-in-the-corner, dunce’s-cap wrong. Brexit has not caused a single immigrant to leave; but thousands of illegal immigrants have fled the EU for Britain since Brexit. And long before the EFTA, EEC, EU and Brexit, Britain was emphatically European: hence the Dutch War, the War of Jenkin’s Ear, the Napoleonic wars, Crimea, the two World Wars and the Cold War.

Et Bloody Cetera

But one cannot deny O’Toole’s place in Irish life; along with the President Higgis, spiritually his conjoined-twin, he is now one of the most persistently Anglophobic voices in Ireland. Both men are thoroughly ignorant about the country which they so vilify. In his hilariously awful book on Brexit, he declared that Margaret Thatcher’s governments had done more damage to Britain’s industrial cities “than the Luftwaffe’s bombing campaign.”

This is ranting, adolescent hyperbole. The German air force killed 67,000 British civilians and destroyed half a million houses; Thatcher revived a dead economy. O’Toole complained about “the gradual erosion of the welfare state” under Thatcher. In 1978, before she came to power, there were 55,000 doctors in the UK Health service. In 1982, she began a systematic reform of the NHS. By 2017, there were 113,508 doctors in the English National Health service alone. The UK National Health Service today employs 1.7 million people and is the 5th biggest employer in the world. To this figure must be added the UK’s 50,000 self-employed NHS-funded GPs; that is, one for every 1,200 people, as compared to, say, Sweden, which has one GP per 1,588 people. Today, we all can see the difference between Brexit Britain and the EU/Ireland: the former is now vaccinating its 40-year-olds, while Ireland is nowhere close to inoculating our 70+ cohort.

You can go through O’Toole articles and repeatedly find the same mixture of self-righteous, sanctimonious venom admixed with factual and statistical misrepresentation. But in his diatribe over Philip, he achieved a level of nastiness and inaccuracy that, in this era of Hibernian Anglophobia, must not go unchallenged. It really is the measure of the man; and likewise a measure of The Irish Times that it not merely prints his vapid, vile stuff, but nonetheless promotes it as emblematic of its values.

Which it probably is….

Share this now:
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial