O'Bamagh's Irish Stew

by Mary Jackson (June 2011)

As President Obama downed that pint of Guinness on his recent visit to Ireland, he may have thought he was going native. Faith and begorrah, no - Guinness is practically English. An eighteenth century Arthur Guinness “borrowed” and tweaked the recipe for London porter or stout, a dark, sweet style iron-rich beer, drunk by stout but far from sweet old battleaxes in Lancashire pubs. O’Bamagh’s Oirishness was stoutly debunked by The Telegraph’s James Delingpole:

Ah Bejaysus and Begorrah! Oi’ll be swearin’ boi the auld shrine to the Vorgin with the shamrocks growin’ round it next to the hill where Cuchullain slew the Great Leprechaun of Kildare on St Patrick’s Day that Barack Seamus O’Toole Flaherty Joyce O’Bama is the most Irish US president that ever set foot on the Emerald Oisle, so he is, so he is.

Except, when he’s in Africa, of course, when he disappears into the dry ice and re-emerges with a grass skirt and a bone through his nose and declares himself to be Mandingo, Prince of the Bloodline of the Bonga People, Drinker of Cattle Urine, Father of A Thousand Warrior Sons, Keeper of King Solomon’s Mines, Barehanded Slayer of Lions, Undaunted Victim of the Evil Colonial British Empire.

And in the Middle East, where he is Al-Barak Hussein Obama, Protector of the Holy Shrine, Smiter of the Kuffar, Lion of the Desert, Tent-Loving-Aficionado-of-the-Oversweetened-Coffee, Chomper of Sheeps’ Eyeballs, Restorer of the Caliphate.

Fair play to yer man, Obama is no worse than many politicians, notably Tony Blair, whose accent, as Dellingpole put it, “mutates  from broad Glaswegian to genteel Edinburgh to Mummerset to Estuary”, and whose barrister wife has sported a sari on one occasion and on another a salwar kameez, in which she can more easily sit on the fence. David Cameron talked turkey in Turkey, Harold Wilson backed the Royal Navy while in Chatham docks, and Margaret Thatcher, who could afford the best caviar, commiserated with the “ordinary” housewife-voter over the price of fish fingers. They all do it. Even our Queen has worn a headscarf, albeit like a crown, and has applauded more cavorting Maoris than she can shake a stick at.

Shallowness is appropriate in the shallows. Photo-opportunities are skin-deep – how much Obama, and his indulged mediocrity of a wife have made of their skin colour is another matter but the mind beneath, the mind of the man charged with defending the West, should be deeper, and he should see through his enemy. To judge by his comments on Northern Ireland, it is more than a Guinness that Obama sees through a glass darkly. From the Belfast Telegraph:

President Obama praised Northern Ireland’s peace process as proof “even the worst conflicts could be resolved” at a Press conference with David Cameron yesterday.

The President said seeing the results of the process on his visit to the Republic was “inspiring”.

Quizzed over the deadlock in talks between Israel and Palestine, the US leader said he was optimistic, though not naive, about a resolution.

Addressing British and international journalists at Lancaster House in London, President Obama, reflecting on his visit to the Republic, said: “It was inspiring to see, after hundreds of years of conflict, people so rapidly reorienting how they thought about themselves, how they thought about those who they thought once were enemies. Her Majesty's visit had a profound effect on the entire country, and so it is an enormous source of hope.

“I think it is a reminder that as tough as these things are, if you stick to it, if people of good will remain engaged, that ultimately even the worst of conflicts can be resolved.

“But it is going to take time and I remain optimistic, but not naively so.

“This is going to be hard work and each side is going to have to look inward to determine what is going to be in their long-term interests and not just what are in their short-term tactical interests, which tends to perpetuate a conflict rather than solve it.”

Mr Obama’s comments followed Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress on Tuesday during which he ruled out a division of Jerusalem or using the pre-1967 borders.

And that is no coincidence. Obama denies being “naively optimistic”, so perhaps, in pressuring Israel to retreat to the indefensible “pre-1967 borders”, he is calculatedly optimistic – about the success of the  Arab Muslim aim of destroying Israel. Naive or malicious as Obama’s optimism may be, the Guinness glass can never be half full: Islam forbids it.

David Cameron weighed in on the same occasion with some half-baked platitudes, including:

When you look at what had to happen in Northern Ireland in order for peace to come about, there has to be some recognition and understanding on each side of the other side’s point of view.

On Cameron’s lips this is meaningless, yet in a sense not intended by him it is true. Israel must understand the “point of view” of Islam; once it does, it will see clearly that there can be no peace, not even the messy, uneasy, muddle-through compromise of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

One clue is in the name: bitter as the sectarian conflict was in Northern Ireland, both Catholics and Protestants mean the same thing by Good Friday. Imagine a Yom Kippur or an Eid agreement between  Israel and what are misleadingly called the “occupied territories”. Protestants and Catholics have fought over the same God, but Allah is not God.

It is something of a cliché that religion and politics should not mix. It may certainly be said that the Troubles in Northern Ireland were as much about politics as religion. Maze prisoner and Provisional IRA member Bobby Sands did not go on hunger strike over transubstantiation, but over political status for prisoners. And a political conflict admits of a political solution, which is what the Good Friday Agreement, despite its Christian name, provides. No such political solution is possible, in the long term, between Muslims and non-Muslims. Islam does not separate politics from religion. To imagine, as Daniel Pipes and others do, that there is an “Islamism”, which, stripped of its political suffix, would live in peace with other faiths, is wishful thinking. Islam makes no distinction between sacred and secular, between public and private or between sin and crime.

As a complete way of life, Islam has no separate sphere in which compromises can be made. This is the main reason why comparison of Jihads like the Arab-Israeli conflict and conflicts like the Troubles are foolish. Here are some further differences, most of which arise from the eternal and all-encompassing nature of Jihad.

First, even at its most intransigent, the Provisional IRA fought only for a united Ireland. Although many attacks took place on the British mainland, it formed no part of the aims of this or any other Irish paramilitary organisation to conquer Great Britain (a term that excludes Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom). Still less did it divide the world into Dar Al Eirann and Dar Al Harrible, nor vow to fight the Harrible Farreigners until they kiss the Blarney Stone, pay the poll tax or die. A united Ireland  would have satisfied the Provisional IRA. Conquest of Israel for the Dar al Islam would whet, rather than sate, the Islamic appetite for violent conquest of what is rightfully, Koranically, theirs: the whole world.

Secondly, Irish grievances against the British, from Cromwell to Bloody Sunday, are real. The Irish are aggrieved that their countrymen have been dispossessed and slaughtered. The point may be argued, but they have a point. Do Muslims? We hear much of Muslim grievances, for which we non-Muslims must apologise, and which we must heed if we are to remain in one piece. These include cartoons, unveiled women, novels, music, and, above all, the very existence of non-Muslim nations, free and thriving, in contradiction to the word of Allah.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine de Bourgh commands Elizabeth to renounce Mr Darcy because she, Lady Catherine, is “not in the habit of being disappointed." “That,” replies Elizabeth, “Will make your ladyship's position more pitiable; but it will have no effect upon me.” Muslims feel they should rule because Islam tells them they are “the best of peoples”. That makes their position more pitiable, but it should have no effect upon us, save to harden our hearts. De Bourgh and les beurs take note: respect must be earned.

Finally, the Irish are like us – like us English, us Australians, us Americans, hell, even us French. Think how well they have assimilated into an originally hostile London --  would you rather live in Kilburn or Tower Hamlets? The Irish may go on and on in a funny accent, but we inhabit the same world, and it is not that of Islam. Forget Flann O’ Brien, could Edna O'Brien or even Dara O'Briain exist in a Muslim country? Could William Trevor’s Ballroom of Romance, or Riverdance? And could there ever be a Muslim Father Ted, a comedy about three priests sharing a parochial house? “Yer Man’s an Imam” or “Five Guys Named Mo”? Don't be such an eejit. Catch yerself on.



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