Like all Irish people living outside of Ireland – and everyone living everywhere other than their place of birth - I am an immigrant. Like Paddington Bear. The father of my children was the child of immigrants, so my kids are half Irish, half British Asian via South Africa. If you were to DNA test them, they’d be Celtic Dravidians, or Dravidian Celts. Whatever. They’re Brighton born and bred.
When my daughter was 13, she was randomly assaulted in a park by a troubled kid – they didn’t know each other, had never spoken, never met until the moment of impact – who screamed at her to go back to her country.
My daughter, having a picnic in the park after school with her friends, was kicked and punched by a lunatic stranger who called her ‘Paki’ and told her to ‘go home’.
My daughter pressed charges. Took the other kid to court. Stood in the witness box for 45 minutes, aged 13, answering questions. Got the violent kid convicted. The violent kid needed help, and was given it by the courts.
My daughter was given support too, shaken up by being randomly thumped for being brown. I remember her saying at the time, WTF Mum, how can stuff like this be possible in modern life?
Another bigot for whom nobody voted has become British prime minister. Whose language is racist( “Piccaninny”, “water melon smile”), Islamophobic (“letterbox” and “bank robber” in relation to burqas), homophobic (“bumboys”). Is this actually real?
Or are we in some kind of meta Truman Show — “we accept the reality of the world with which we are presented” — this latest lurch towards fascism a protracted hoax to test our mettle? See how we’d react, beyond wringing our hands, or worse, shrugging?
We remain hamstrung by our disbelief. It couldn’t happen again, not after the last time, not when we have all the legislation in place, not when attitudes have so massively evolved from the No Blacks No Irish No Dogs of the past.
Except it can, it has, and it is. Two amoral white man-babies have elbowed their way to power, propelled upward by immense privilege, relentless self promotion, media collusion (nice work, Have I Got News For You and The Apprentice), and dog whistle populism, to prop up the plutocracy.
We can’t quite grasp it even as it unfolds in front of us. My children are now growing up in a world where their political leader is not, as they would like, a principled socialist who grows vegetables and believes in social justice, but a sociopathically ambitious Eton mess, interested only in personal glory. In the US, the White House has become the White Supremacist House.
My daughter has a sticker on her bag which reads, “Make Racists Afraid Again”. Yes. And unelectable. And history. And just so damned uncool.