Clean Bandits

Notes written in a carwash listening to Sunday morning radio. Even more like an alcohol free dinner party –  with people who use dinner parties to learn about the world and love to share their “expertise” loudly with you – than usual. The assembled party of at least four men are shouting at the lone woman (a female presenter does not count) when she suggested Clinton is being blamed by the men for losing the election just because she’s a woman. ‘Ah here pet’ is the tone. Heads tilt.

All the men are middle aged and white. Now they are talking about how we might leverage our connection with VP Pence who holidays in Ireland every year. How can we make the most of this chance?  IN FAIRNESS says one lad, he was coming here before he was made VP.
After the break, a text, you know, for balance, is read out. They say, well sure I hear the texters point, that Pence wants to electrocute gay people and I hear them ask if that would that not now be unacceptable to Ireland,a country that has enshrined LGBT equality in law?
What about China and Saudi Arabia are respond the panel? We don’t like their policies either but we have to do business with them. Use diplomatic channels to say you don’t like the policies says one white man and then you can still export your beef. Heads nod. The panel moves on.
This is the fourth high profile radio program like this I’ve listened to in the last 36hrs in Ireland and since the election of Donald Trump.
Other insights of white men, some proper politicians, men of the people, the kind of lad who still cuts turf by hand, included “I spoke to my cousin in a bar in America and he told me Obama care didn’t work, so you know, this is proof it doesn’t work“, or “white women voted for Trump” so this is offered as absolute proof that “women” (being a very singular group) are a-ok with a man who is savagely sexist and, appears to dislike women a lot, now being their leader.
On that particular show the one female guest worked hard to cite evidence, polls and real data to dig down into the topic and question sweeping statements about the election. “I didn’t interrupt you” was the tone and, “I’m not sure you heard me, I said I spoke to my C-O-U-S-I-N”.
Blame facebook and social media all you like and for sure it needs to be interrogated and examined but millions of people, including children, and women, and muslims, and gay people, people of colour and people with disabilities are listening this weekend to us (Ireland) welcome this election on our national radio stations, sitting hard together in the middle of our sofas.
I really do not fear the right in Ireland.
I think we worry too much as a nation what the neighbours think, what would the outside world think of us to ever endorse explicit right wing agendas, at least for now.
It is the middle that makes me anxious.
The middle that is not concerned about the actual, on the ground, in rooms you cannot see and will never visit, implications of Brexit or Trump. The middle that is trying to leverage these events to further Irelands economic position by exploiting a connection with an incoming Vice President.
That middle that is all over the radio giving opinions while refusing to even pick a side, keeping all cards to their chest. You do know where you stand, at least, with a Nazi.
I fear the middle that will just wash this away now with diplomacy and winks and declarations that this is what the “people” wanted. The middle who loves a good story and is happy to trust politicians who use anec-data over fact when expedient and to put and shout those who cite evidence and measured data down.
We now live in a world where a President – not just any president but a leader of one of two states that Ireland is socially, culturally and politically enthralled to, that generations of Irish were rared on and sent family and friends to – can gesticulate and mock a person with a disability on television and we all just move on, say yeah yeah, and still hope VP Pence comes in the summer so we can wave at his car as he drives by and have a grand day out.
That dial really does need moving, things are fast getting out of focus.