The contrived controversy about Gerry Adams failing to get into the White House Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations highlights the self-pity and naked opportunism at the heart of Sinn Fein’s “Hit me now with the Peace Process in me arms” routine, writes Donal O’Keeffe.
Last week, the US Secret Service kept a world statesman waiting outside the White House in a calculated and deliberate snub to the man who single-handedly delivered peace to the poor little island of Ireland and to its people, the Most Oppressed People Ever (MOPE for short).
Yes, I know that’s a nonsensical summation, but that’s apparently what the Shinners believe.
Gerry Adams’ reaction to being unable to get into the White House in time for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations – he demanded an apology, he hinted at shadowy conspiracies and he likened himself to the US Civil Rights heroine Rosa Parks – seemed initially overblown and self-pitying.
As the story unfolded from last Tuesday afternoon’s St Patrick’s Day party in the White House, it was reported initially that the Sinn Fein leader had been held for up to 90 minutes by the Secret Service. The White House Chief of Staff apologised for what was described as “an input error”.
Mr Adams suggested a split in the US government, a US conspiracy against his party and he had the audacity to state “Sinn Fein will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone”.
The self-regarding stupidity of this remark is hard to overstate. The phrase “the back of the bus” is a clear reference to one of the most important moments of the US Civil Rights movement. On December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42 year old Black woman, refused to give up her seat in the coloured section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white passenger.
It became a key moment in the struggle against racial segregation in the US and Mrs Parks became an American icon. Among her many awards were the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. When she died in 2005, she became the first woman – and only the third non-government figure – to lay in honour in the Capitol Rotunda.
Co-opting Rosa Parks for a gripe about being prevented from attending a party in the Obama White House is – obviously – tone deaf but it is also symptomatic of Sinn Fein’s persecution complex, of the utter disconnection of its leader and of the opportunism which attends its every utterance. As the satirist Newton Emerson tweeted, “We have now reached Peak MOPE”.
MOPE is an interesting notion and one which has been hotly debated. Whatever its merits or demerits, though, the idea that the Irish are the Most Oppressed People Ever is certainly one which has infected the thinking of Sinn Fein supporters, many of whom also consider theirs the Most Oppressed Party Ever.
Any criticism of Sinn Fein is met with howls of injured righteousness and claims that such comments are Endangering The Peace Process. “Hit me now with the Peace Process in me arms” seems at the heart of the punishment tweetings from Oglaigh na Twitter’s legions of “online activists” – or as those of us who have Endangered The Peace Process know them – Shinnerbots.
Thus anyone asking if Gerry Adams ordered the murder of Belfast mother of ten Jean McConville is Endangering The Peace Process.
Thus Thomas “Slab” Murphy is a “good Republican” and anyone who says differently is Endangering The Peace Process.
Gerry Adams has led Sinn Fein since 1983. It’s worth remembering that Garret Fitzgerald was Taoiseach at the time and Thatcher was in Downing Street. Reagan was in the White House.
In terms of political longevity, the only leader who was in power at the time and who continues to this day is Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. (Mugabe is 92 now and earlier this month, he threatened a journalist who had asked if he has any retirement plans “Would you like me to floor you with a punch?”)
Adams’ position as Sinn Fein leader seems as unassailable as Mugabe’s premiership. Allegedly ordering murder? Allegedly covering for rapists? Allegedly covering for your own paedophile brother? Imagine any other party leader surviving even one of the allegations against Adams.
Then again, of course, Shinners believe Adams was never in the IRA, either.
It would be hard to find a neater summation of Sinn Féin’s blind loyalty to Adams than that offered by former IRA member Anthony McIntyre: “If Adams was to tell Mary Lou that he’s a Persian prince from the 16th century, she would go on national television and say it was so.”
Overblown and deluded as Adams’ “back of the bus” remarks initially seemed, Pat Leahy’s report in last Saturday’s Irish Times painted them in a far more sleeveenish and farcical light.
Leahy pointed out that Adams’ party colleagues Martin McGuinness and Mary Lou McDonald had no problem getting into the White House party and he suggested that this might have had something to do with their having bothered to show up on time.
It turns out that everyone was told to be at the White House by 3.30pm to allow an hour to clear security. (Máiría Cahill says her invitation advised she be there by 3pm.) Gerry Adams rocked up at 4.20pm, ten minutes before President Obama was due to speak.
So a man with well-known terrorist links shows up at least 50 minutes late at one of the most security-conscious buildings on the planet and – not because he is at the back of the bus but rather because he is at the back of the queue – he then throws his toys out of the pram and actually accuses the first Black president of the United States of treating him like Rosa Parks.
With apologies to President Obama’s book, that’s the very definition of The Audacity of MOPE.