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 Are we Irish savages?

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PostSubject: Are we Irish savages?   Thu May 29, 2008 7:01 pm

An article circulated by Information Clearing House asks the question 'Are we Americans savages?' The question relates to the torture of Iraqi prisoners, the role of the US government in sanctioning torture and the subsequent behaviour of military personnel acting on orders from their superiors - individuals from the lower ranks being subsequently blamed when the torture was exposed - and condemned as 'rotten apples' - when in fact they were implementing torture policy sanctioned from the highest levels of the US government.

Two pertinent quotes from George Orwell (courtesy of ICH):

"We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men":

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them"

The article linked to below reasonably begs the question 'where is the outrage' among Americans and tries to understand/explain their indifference.

It isn't just the Americans who are culpable, is it? We are just as bad in Ireland - we know that Shannon Airport is being used to transfer the US military to service an illegal invasion, to bomb, maim and torture. But whenever an objection is raised about this, an extraordinary disregard for the truth and for basic human compassion are evident. The economic advantages that accrue to the Shannon region, for example, is offered as a sound explanation for why the death, maiming and torture are less important. Are we Irish savages?

Read article at link:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20004.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 11:47 am

Tough question, but I think overall savages is too strong a word.

We all have a degree of complacency about torture, suffering, violence etc. and also lower level immorality, if I may call it that, such as theft, corruption etc.

However the level of that complacency depends on a huge array of factors. Knowledge of the parties, the reasons for the events, the history behind the events, the effects the events may or may not have on us, and all that sort of stuff. Economic effects would also be a factor I'd have to admit.

There is also a time factor I think, in that the longer an injustice or a given set of immoral circumstances exist, the more indifferent we become ?

I would admit to complacency on the US use of Shannon for military purposes. I'm fairly tone deaf to a lot of world events, some of them horrendously cruel and tragic. However, this level of indifference has not been pegged intentionally, as the George Orwell quote implies, but out of a need to see to my own as a priority.

With that said, I'm not too sure I agree with myself. I'ts a tricky one.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:19 pm

I think we are savages, trying, mostly, to maintain a veneer of civilisation. Apathy towards the Shannon outrage is nothing compared to the unbridled brutality seen on our streets, the willingness to drink oneself senseless and violent for fun, the increase in drug taking which is manifest in the courts not only in public order and dealing/possession cases but in the related crime - theft, assault, criminal damage.

The way previous generations allowed our children and unwed mothers to be treated in the name of God is a kind of savagery we cannot distance ourselves from. Unspeakable cruelties were visited on children and women without having to lay a hand on them in many cases. Corporal punishment, reform schools, Magdalene Laundries, ostracism... While it's 'the Church' that gets the blame as if it was, in those days, some great institution 'out there somewhere,' a church is its people. Every parent who allowed their children to be brutalised by teachers, lay or cleric is culpable. This is our great shame; in the same way that successive generations of Germans have sought to come to terms with the Holocaust and the part their parents played in it, I think we will have the same process to endure.

I don't think we're nearly as civilised as we'd like to think ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:26 pm

Kate P wrote:
I think we are savages, trying, mostly, to maintain a veneer of civilisation. Apathy towards the Shannon outrage is nothing compared to the unbridled brutality seen on our streets, the willingness to drink oneself senseless and violent for fun, the increase in drug taking which is manifest in the courts not only in public order and dealing/possession cases but in the related crime - theft, assault, criminal damage.

The way previous generations allowed our children and unwed mothers to be treated in the name of God is a kind of savagery we cannot distance ourselves from. Unspeakable cruelties were visited on children and women without having to lay a hand on them in many cases. Corporal punishment, reform schools, Magdalene Laundries, ostracism... While it's 'the Church' that gets the blame as if it was, in those days, some great institution 'out there somewhere,' a church is its people. Every parent who allowed their children to be brutalised by teachers, lay or cleric is culpable. This is our great shame; in the same way that successive generations of Germans have sought to come to terms with the Holocaust and the part their parents played in it, I think we will have the same process to endure.

I don't think we're nearly as civilised as we'd like to think ourselves.
So, is anyone civilised?
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:29 pm

Being civilised not a destination, nor is it definitive; in my opinion it's a state of being that we can inhabit until we're somehow threatened. But the savage is always dormant underneath.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:31 pm

Now that I recall, you're the sociologist.

Is anyone civilised?
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:33 pm

Well, if we were truly civilised, would we be able to sit in the back garden sipping beer and doing the crossword, while people were suffering all over the place.

On a civilisation scale of 1 to 10, we might be a 6. But savages I would put at 4.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:35 pm

They're two sides of the one coin, though, aren't they? We can only be civilised if there's a savage to repress, so to speak...
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:42 pm

Kate P wrote:
Now that I recall, you're the sociologist.

Is anyone civilised?
Sociologist? I've never been so insulted, do I look like an accountant? I'm an anthropologist (or at least I was an anthropologist student).

Have you ever heard the term 'the banality of evil'? I think it's commonly accepted that man has his fundamental flaws, what the religious call 'Adam's curse' and everyone else 'human nature'. If everyone is a savage then why do we use the term?

I think it's mainly used by those who claim the moral high ground as a starting point in their argument. Not that I want to talk down to Aragon or dismiss his argument. But he could have used better language in my opinion.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:45 pm

Apologies for the insult Smile

We use the term for the same reason the religious have heaven and everyone else uses a knife and fork; we like to think we're evolving towards something less animal, more reasoned.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:47 pm

Kate P wrote:
Apologies for the insult Smile

We use the term for the same reason the religious have heaven and everyone else uses a knife and fork; we like to think we're evolving towards something less animal, more reasoned.
I disagree. I think we use it because we think we're already there and the rest of the world isn't at our enlightened stage. It's a classic ethnocentric identity.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:48 pm

Can't disagree with that...
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 2:51 pm

Recommended reading, 905?
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 3:03 pm

905 wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Apologies for the insult Smile

We use the term for the same reason the religious have heaven and everyone else uses a knife and fork; we like to think we're evolving towards something less animal, more reasoned.
I disagree. I think we use it because we think we're already there and the rest of the world isn't at our enlightened stage. It's a classic ethnocentric identity.

Well, whatever the measurement of civilisation is, there will be, like anything else, a variation among people. I am indifferent to the Shannon thingy, but I don't fly airplanes into buildings.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 3:05 pm

905 wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Apologies for the insult Smile

We use the term for the same reason the religious have heaven and everyone else uses a knife and fork; we like to think we're evolving towards something less animal, more reasoned.
I disagree. I think we use it because we think we're already there and the rest of the world isn't at our enlightened stage. It's a classic ethnocentric identity.

The English used to portray the Irish as savages. I agree its historically a loaded "them and us" term, but I think Aragon used it to try to shock us into thinking about the implications of what we are indirectly responsible for, as opposed to directly. The point is, do we accept that we are fully responsible to things done "in our name" by our government, and that we benefit from. On Shannon, I feel less bad than I might because I have consistently and actively opposed the invasion of Iraq from well before it happened.

People quite openly will say to you "What about the jobs in Shannon" when looking at pictures of badly injured little Iraqi children.

I'm not hammer woman though, who went the whole hog and disabled a US plane. I don't think she needs to feel responsible for Shannon.

The law that made Shannon 'legal' was slipped through in the wake of 9/11 in 2001.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 4:29 pm

cactus flower wrote:
905 wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Apologies for the insult Smile

We use the term for the same reason the religious have heaven and everyone else uses a knife and fork; we like to think we're evolving towards something less animal, more reasoned.
I disagree. I think we use it because we think we're already there and the rest of the world isn't at our enlightened stage. It's a classic ethnocentric identity.

The English used to portray the Irish as savages. I agree its historically a loaded "them and us" term, but I think Aragon used it to try to shock us into thinking about the implications of what we are indirectly responsible for, as opposed to directly. The point is, do we accept that we are fully responsible to things done "in our name" by our government, and that we benefit from. On Shannon, I feel less bad than I might because I have consistently and actively opposed the invasion of Iraq from well before it happened.

People quite openly will say to you "What about the jobs in Shannon" when looking at pictures of badly injured little Iraqi children.

I'm not hammer woman though, who went the whole hog and disabled a US plane. I don't think she needs to feel responsible for Shannon.

The law that made Shannon 'legal' was slipped through in the wake of 9/11 in 2001.

Thanks CF. It never occurred to me that the use of the word savage would be taken to signify the old colonial description of the native people of other countries. I kind of thought that usage was more or less obsolete. But perhaps it is still too sensitive a term. I used it in the same sense as the author of the article I linked to - vicious, unthinking behaviour that anyone might be capable of.

To add to what you say about Shannon - here is a quote from someone on politics.ie that was quoted in a recent MediaBite media shot:

"Here in Ireland, a poster on the current affairs website politics.ie, quite possibly an elected politician, when told that war on Iran was now more probability than possibility, noted without a hint of sarcasm:

'We have to put our own national economic interests first. Charity begins at home. And remember this - if the US couldn't go through Shannon they would just go through a UK airport like Prestwick instead. End result: the length of the war would be unaffected but thousands of jobs at Shannon would be lost - remember that 70% of the airport's revenues come from the US military. Sometimes the price of principle is too high.'

http://www.politics.ie/viewtopic.php...postorder=asc&start=24

What about the price of the absence of principle? Are the one million lives lost in Iraq worth it to the people of the Shannon region - even if other people would have been just as prepared to acquiesce in their slaughter? How does another person's willingness to do wrong justify anything? Without subscribing the idea of past golden eras, there was a time in the pretty recent past when an attitude like this would have been unthinkable to most people in Ireland. Now you can say it out loud and be hailed as a common-sense pragmatist - or some such bullshit. I think we have descended into savagery - in the sense described above.

http://www.mediabite.org/article_An-instruction-from-civilisation-to-barbarism_45949228.html
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Fri May 30, 2008 4:44 pm

The last link is very interesting Aragon - perhaps it should be posted in an Iran thread as well ( I think there is one).
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:24 pm

Aragon wrote:
....Are we Irish savages?....

All humans are savages. We have a veneer of civilisation painted over a primitive beast. That's probably an insult to beasts who kill for food while humans have been known to kill for pleasure.

But why do you single out our turning a blind eye to the US flying PWs through Shannon. Have you forgotten yesterday's terrorists like the Provos and the Shankill Butchers or some of the more pleasant occupants of Limerick City. Gosh even nice well-educated college boys from the leafier suburbs have been known to kick their friends to death after a few beers too many.
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PostSubject: Re: Are we Irish savages?   Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:35 pm

Lestat wrote:
Aragon wrote:
....Are we Irish savages?....

All humans are savages. We have a veneer of civilisation painted over a primitive beast. That's probably an insult to beasts who kill for food while humans have been known to kill for pleasure.

But why do you single out our turning a blind eye to the US flying PWs through Shannon. Have you forgotten yesterday's terrorists like the Provos and the Shankill Butchers or some of the more pleasant occupants of Limerick City. Gosh even nice well-educated college boys from the leafier suburbs have been known to kick their friends to death after a few beers too many.

That's a very fair assessment, Lestat. We humans can be awful to each other at times. We can indeed be savage when the red mist decends and we degenerate into violence and blood-letting.
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