Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Ireland of the welcomes?

So – Donald Trump is coming to Ireland. And from the furore in some circles you'd think he wasn't visiting but invading.

Now, I get it that Trump is not the most well-liked US president in living memory. Some of this, arguably, is down to the fact that the mainstream media hates him with a passion. That's understandable. He did, after all, bring their dreams crashing down, not to mention providing a rude wake-up call to the fact that they are not the ones actually ruling the world, by defeating 'their' candidate.

That said, he would try the patience of a saint. Even leaving individual policy decisions aside, the man can be extremely irritating. For my own part, for example, I hate his way of conducting diplomacy via Twitter. If nothing else, his propensity for hitting buttons, apparently without thinking things through in advance, is deeply troubling. It especially does not bode well if we were ever on the threshold of a nuclear war. And his denigration of John McCain's war record during his election campaign (may he rest in peace), a man who suffered greatly for his country did not sit well with me. I am an old soldier myself and it makes my blood boil when someone who not only never wore the uniform but was probably at his tailors when he should have been at boot camp takes petty pot-shots at a true hero.

So I'd be just as happy if he never came. But he is coming. Because he was invited. We invited him – not just once, but twice. Enda Kenny invited him; and then Leo Varadkar went and did it again. They did so on our behalf. And invited guests must be treated with courtesy. But listening to some on radio and television – a few of them government ministers, no less – it sounds like they are hoping to bring out the same kinds of crowds who went to see the pope for the sake of roaring abuse at the man.

No doubt those trying to get a mob going are thinking what does it matter? It's only Trump – sure all the world hates him. But here's the problem. It's one thing if someone barges into your house uninvited and you are rude to him. It's another thing entirely if you ask him round and then start giving him a rash of abuse. And that's what is shaping up to be the case with the Trump visit.

And really it doesn't matter if you think he deserves it. Trump already knows what those who don't like him think. Nothing new will be said by hoards of protesters. But it will be said in a new context – the context of an invited guest being roundly abused by his hosts. Context says a lot. And that particular context, while it says nothing at all about Trump, will say a lot about the people of Ireland. Things about us that I would think are best left unsaid. 

this article appears in today's issue of the Kilkenny Reporter

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