While we reel in dismay at the unfolding events in the US, we should not be complacent.
The far-right in Ireland are operating from the same playbook.
They are attempting to hijack the pandemic narrative with their anti-mask, anti-vaccine — “the pandemic is a scam” — rhetoric and lies.
Their goal is to sow division and distrust, while recruiting support from people who are unaware of their fundamentally racist foundations.
If people can be convinced to distrust scientists, doctors and civic leaders, then they are easily manipulated. They will believe anything they are told, including ludicrous conspiracy theories, as we can see what has taken place in the US.
The racist far-right have not secured any financial or electoral power base in Ireland.
Their policies have been roundly rejected by the Irish electorate.
So they have changed tack, presenting themselves as the champion of the common people, resisting the imposition of Covid-19 restrictions and vaccines promoted by the untrustworthy “elites”.
I would suggest that anyone who finds these contrarian arguments convincing should investigate the background of anyone promoting them. Their political affiliations will reveal their true motives.
Some of them tend to cloak themselves in the veneer of religion, which is the greatest travesty of all.
Their currency is not that of love, compassion and inclusivity, but of fear, hate and exclusion of those who do not conform to their extremely limited world view.
We can ask reasonable and rational questions about what is happening in this bizarre time we are living through, without falling foul of devious manipulators who are exploiting it for their own ends.
The gun-toting, conspiracy theory-loving crackpots journeying to the various state houses in the United States are dangerous.
But all of these people are disenfranchised and alienated in gut-wrenching directionless ways. Their anger has been expertly misplaced. They have been duped, inflamed and cynically used by “the Donald” and his camp-followers.
There is one institution, and only one, that Donald Trump truly fears: It isn’t the FBI; it isn’t the NSA; it isn’t the US Senate nor the CIA; it’s Deutsche Bank — his creditors — they want paying.
Money will not be harmed.
And no assault rifle or campaign of disinformation will change the fact. Deutsche Bank want their money. That will flatten him and quieten him far faster than any Impeachment trial in the US Senate.
The tradition of welcome and a respectful handover in the US presidential office as Obama, Bush, Clinton and others have done for the last
century or more is symbolic part of the inauguration — but not on this occasion.
It’s almost sad to see a negative finish to a very negative presidency when it would have been so easy to do and force a smile as probably many of the previous occupants have done.
The other departing tradition of leaving a message for the next occupant in an envelope will be interesting. It will probably say “I’ll be back” but written with a big black marker or a crayon which might symbolise the childish behaviour of Donald Trump.
When Donald Trump whipped up his supporters into a frenzy that led them to assault the Capitol building in Washington, he was rightly castigated from tall quarters for having attempted to incite an insurrection.
Yet when Alexei Navalny releases a video message to his supporters urging them to take to the streets to protest his arrest, he is supported and lauded by EU leaders.
Both Trump and Navalny are looking to use the power they have over their supporters in order to further their own personal and political interests.
Yet the response of our own political leaders to the same actions seem to vary with whom it is that commits those actions.
Such self-serving hypocrisy cannot go unmentioned.
As Covid-19 continues to take the lives of many of our family members and friends, my thoughts go out to those whom are grieving these losses. In any instance losing a loved one turns your whole world upside down, but for those where illness and the death has been unexpected, it is an incredibly traumatic experience.
As chairperson of CRY Ireland — a charity which offers support to families that have lost loved ones to sudden cardiac death — I have seen the traumatic effects of losing someone suddenly and the subsequent grief.
With restrictions tightened once again, those mourning a loss are often left in isolation without the traditional support of friends and families. For some people, the support from those around them tends to be a great source of comfort, and the ability to share stories, memories or even share a hug can be impactful. Not being able to do this now only magnifies the loss.
We have also found that Covid-19 restrictions can ignite old feelings of grief as people are left alone with their thoughts and are thrown out of usual routine.
In a recent survey by CRY Ireland, 57% of respondents said restrictions have worsened their feelings of grief. It has been an incredibly difficult time for all.
While we must remain apart from one another, grief should not be dealt with alone. If the support of friends and family are not available, the bereaved must be reassured that there are many other support options available to them from CRY Ireland and a wide range of other organisations.
We are all in this together.
Chairperson CRY Ireland
In his comment/analysis, Barry Cowen reflects with criticism on the communication around the Covid-19 pandemic Irish Examiner, (Vaccine messaging so far has been haphazard and disjointedJanuary 18). Despite this mild finger wagging against his comrades (no doubt to score political points, to use a Micheál Martin phrase), he sees no issue in using the most successful tactic in the government’s handbook.
He mentions three groups: Two of them, society and economy “have failed” in their response to Covid-19; the third group, government, clearly has not, in Barry Cowen’s opinion. Like the Mother and Baby homes, it is all of our faults, while simultaneously not the government parties’ fault. Duly noted, Mr Cowen.
In regard to the mother and baby homes, I wonder how many of the nominal Christians, who perpetrated heinous deeds in those establishments asked themselves: “What would Christ do?”
Those who place primary blame for the horrors of the mother and baby homes at the feet of families who banished their daughters, fail to recognise that the place of a truly Christian church in such a society was to shout stop — not to compound the cruelties and add further tortures to the already broken backs of single mothers and babies entrusted to their care.
Responsibility for this lies squarely at the door of an educated clergy wielding croziers with savagery unbecoming of those charged with spreading a gospel of love.
The report into the mother and baby homes strikes another devastating blow to the credibility of the Christian churches.
Their collaboration in the perpetration of crimes against humanity in these so-called called ‘homes’ was a betrayal of their vocations.
Furthermore they were seen to represent a God that was essentially cruel and vindictive.
Such a God, which impelled their cruel actions, was and is infinitely, a far cry from the real compassionate God as revealed by Jesus of Nazareth.