Wednesday 23 September 2009

Hey Tommy, did you hear the one about the Irishman who died in the famine?

Letter to the Editor - Published in the Irish Examiner

A Chara
A friend asked me if I was angry about Tommy Tiernan’s anti-semitic rant at the Electric Picnic.
“No,” I explained. “I’m not angry, just very sad.”
Sad because after nearly 20 years of living in Ireland, I thought my adopted home was finally moving on.
Sad because Tommy is an influential comedian, and if he gets away with material like this then many other bigots will feel safe spouting equal nonsense.
Sad because there is nothing remotely funny about anything he said, any more than there would be if this Jew stood up and told Irish Famine jokes to an audience of English folk.
Sad because nobody in Ireland seems to wonder why this country’s Jewish population is the only one in the free world that has shrunk of its own volition almost into oblivion. I am one of a minuscule group of Jews left living west of the Shannon.
Sad because Tiernan’s pathetic excuse that he was in 'a special protected environment where people know that nothing they say is being taken seriously' is at best disingenuous. The issue is not when or where who said what to whom, but rather that he thinks like this at all.
Sad because Ireland’s nascent anti-racist laws are puny and untested, unlike those of other modern countries who do not tolerate incitement to racial hatred.
Sad because I have encountered much anti-semitism in my life here, but it has usually come from those who have never met a Jew in their lives, and hence know no better.
That in no way justifies their views, but it does enable me to use my stock response: to tell them that ‘Sure, the worst thing about these Jews is that you can’t even spot one when they’re sitting right in front of you!’
Usually that does the trick. As soon as they see how ignorant and prejudicial they have been they learn not to do it again.
But Tommy Tiernan does know better. He has travelled the world and knows how vile and dangerous such views are once unleashed into the public arena.
Sad. Not angry. How angry can you be when you hear the term ‘Christ Killer’ for the umpteenth time in your life? Of all the anti-Semitic terms I have had fired against me, that one hurts the least. After all, Jesus was a Jew.