I think sometimes we get confused about why racism actually matters. It gets treated as a self-contained wrong. We condemn the racist and lament the presence of racism, often without dwelling on the harm it creates.
I’ve read lots of coverage of Scully this week (including this humiliatingly accurate Guardian comment). Based on a reasonably brief scan, one Irish newspaper represented the views of any people of African origin in Ireland. One. This Independent article, which reports on the clash that took place over the issue in its comments section. Shockingly for the Independent, far more inches are devoted to the bile spewed by the real dregs of Irish society. The ones claiming to be “the common man”.
What’s more, the assault causing death of a black taxi driver in Dublin this week has received nothing but passing mention. A closing note in the real, important coverage of a white male politician.
How about just one Irish journalist takes a day trip to Naas? Asks black residents how they feel living in a community where an obvious racist can rise to such a position in the party of government, how it feels to have the same party disown his comments rather than stepping up to the plate and giving a real apology?
Upon his resignation Scully performed some strange sleight of hand, and has so far been supported in that effort by the Fine Gael leadership.
I realise they have caused deep hurt and offence in all communities and in all sectors of society. I realise now that my remarks were open to an interpretation that I did not intend. I abhor racism in all its forms.
The harm isn’t, as Scully seems to think, with the tag of ‘racist’. Nor is it, as many of the rest of us seem to think, with the abstract presence of racists in Irish society. The harm is “the deep hurt and offence”. That’s what we should be talking about. Not the semantic distinction between racists and….well, racists.
My friend William Quill tweeted that “It’s not even good enough that
#darrenscully would resign. As FG members, we have to question the culture that allowed him become Mayor.” It’s not just Fine Gael that have a culture to question.