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Is Ireland Racist?

  • 06-12-2021 2:23am
    Registered Users Posts: 2,899 ✭✭✭ John Doe1

    I would say that Ireland is doing very well in relative terms to other countries especially considering the massive demographic shift we have seen in the last 20 years or so. Outliers like Gemma O Doherty and her handful of followers are to be expected but Irish people in general seem to be accepting of all people on first impression no matter colour/creed until they have a reason not to which is something to be admired.

    There are of course those with a particular agenda on twitter and the like who would have you believe that we are basically like the Antebellum South but these are usually young/immature people whose views are the result of saturating themselves in American media.



  • Registered Users Posts: 24,314 ✭✭✭✭ Cookie_Monster

    Yes, we are. It's actually hidden down near the bottom of the constitution and all. Article 51

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,092 ✭✭✭ kowloonkev

    I find that it's generally people who don't interact with different races, and have never been the foreigner in another country that are obsessed with the topic, and those are the people who you tend to find on the extreme ends of the racism scale.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,585 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus

    Oxford English Dictionary: "Prejudice, antagonism, or discrimination by an individual, institution, or society, against a person or people on the basis of their nationality or (now usually) their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized"

  • Registered Users Posts: 458 ✭✭ The Quintessence Model

     'I think there are a significant number of people who use very stringent criteria for something to be seen as having been racist and so they argue vehemently that some behaviour, that someone else might feel is racist, is not actually such.'

    You can say that again. Some people think calling for a boycott of businesses because they are owned by people with a certain skin color is perfectly acceptable!

    Ireland racist? No, not in broad sense. Racist things happen for sure.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    The only reference I can find for that quote is the CRER website, 'coalition for racial equality and rights' and seems to be quite politically loaded.

    The definition I can find and I believe most people commonly understand racism to be is

    "racism(noun): the unfair treatment of people who belong to a different race; violent behaviour towards them"

    " the belief that some races of people are better than others, or a general belief about a whole group of people based only on their race"

    Your defintion above would fit for two warring countries, which seems odd.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,292 ✭✭✭✭ Fr Tod Umptious

    On come on, we are one of the most racist countries in the world.

    Look at our attitudes to and treatment of our own ethnic minority throughout the decades if not centuries.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,585 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus

    The definition I quoted is the one in the Oxford English Dictionary (the big one, not the Shorter or the Concise); doubtless that's where the CRER got it from.

    The OED definition would not cover two warring countries, unless they were at war for reasons to do with race or ethnicity. But if it did cover two warring countries, wouldn't your suggested definition also cover two warring countries even more clearly?

    Yours looks much too wide: unfair treatment of, or violent behaviour towards, people of a different race would under that definition, be "racism" regardless of reason or motivation. At least the OED definition only covers treatment directed at people on the basis of their nationality, race or ethnicity.

    Which dictionary does your suggested definition come from?

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 8,070 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Jim2007

    Well it obviously isn’t well hidden if you can find it in A51. Care to quote which part exactly?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,974 ✭✭✭ Pa ElGrande

    That's the term as commonly understood by most people, in Ireland, the word is used in context to denigrate opinions of others and is variously used as a synonym for prejudice, fascism, bigotry, xenophobia, unconscious bias, and holding opinions outside the 3" x 5" index card of allowable opinion. In modern Ireland objections by local groups to central government dumping large groups of refugees in their communities is regarded by opinion formers with quick access to the media as "racism", irrespective of the merits of locals arguments, and of course the Irish enmity for the designated ethnic minority called "the travellers". Elements of the charity industrial complex are a major purveyor of this new world of racism and the legislation they create to ensure future funding streams. I reckon John Smoke is not wide of the mark when he observes:

    Some of the loopiest stuff in Britain can be found out in the Celtic fringes. This is likely because these are places isolated and parochial, making them a breeding ground for liberal yokels with a chip on their shoulder who think they’re not ‘cosmopolitan enough’. See the entire state apparatus of the Irish Republic, for instance.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,585 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus

    There's less in this rant than meets the eye. Obviously the "racism" term has been understood as derogatory since at least 1945, so saying that people use the term to denigrate the opinions of others does not, in itself, suggest that they are using the term wrongly. Similarly, saying that they use it as "a synonym for prejudice, fascism, bigotry, xenophobia, unconscious bias" isn't saying much; racism is prejudiced, bigoted and xenophobic; fascists are often - even usually - racists, and unconscious bias can - obviously - be racist. So, again, these usages are not necessarily problematic.

    As for objections to the resettlement of refugees being denounced as racist when, in fact they are not, can you quote some examples - preferably, with links - of objection which are not racist but which have been denounced as racist? I'm not saying such a thing never happens, but I doubt that this is the dominant use. And of course there are many countervailing examples of people who deny that their views are racist when they quite obviously are.

    As for John Smoke, I have no idea who he is but the tone of his writing does not suggest that he is going to offer a dispassionate or balanced account of this (or any other) topic. I'm hoping for cites with a bit more credibility.

  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus

    As @Peregrinus says, in general a community/country/street/location with an homogenous population tends to be the most insular and unfriendly to outsiders. And historically Ireland was very homogenous, which in theory should be an indication of general unfriendliness to outsiders.

    I'm not sure it holds at a national level. Certainly back before the 90s, there would have been a lot of very casual racism. Ching-chong Chinaman jokes, "Eeny-meenie-miny-mo, catch a ....", and so forth. Not hate, but jokes if they were heard by any of these minorities, would definitely have a whole new aspect to them.

    Overall, I would say that we have adapted really well to immigration and been very accepting of other cultures and cultural differences. We've come to understand - with very little resistance - that cheap racist jokes and remarks of the past are not cool, and just dropped them. Of course there are pockets of racism. Every country has them.

    I expect this general ease of integration is a cultural thing. Having spent centuries with the local culture being demonised and suppressed, and millions of Irish people emigrating to live abroad, we generally have a "live and let live" approach. We don't insist that immigrants conform to Irish cultural norms, or get annoyed when they do their own thing. In the same way that the English might. So long as someone else expressing their culture doesn't force an Irishman to have to do anything or change anything, then they're happy to let at it; and often delighted to see something new or give it a try themselves.

    There is one very specific streak of racism running through Irish society; against travellers. And if you don't agree that it's racism, then whatever; hatred against travellers is endemic in the Irish. The whos and the whats and the whys aren't really relevant; hatred isn't justifiable. Yes, the traveller community could be considered racist against the settled community. But that's not OK either. Everything is not hunky dory just because everyone hates eachother and everyone has an anecdote of the time of "them" wronged us.

    So to answer the OP - is Ireland racist? Yes, but in a very singular and specific way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,060 ✭✭✭✭ osarusan

    It's a joke I presume. The constitution has 50 articles.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    This new way of judging the racism in society is to look at the disparate outcomes among groups and say 'aha, racism' this then is used to call anyone a racist who supports any policy deemed to be increasing these disparate outcomes. (E.g. Nixons war on drugs was seen by many as racist because it disproportionately effected minorities. Anyone seen to be supporting tougher immigration laws could also easily fall foul of this new definition of racism)

    For some reason the definition that you supplied now leaves out that the belief that one race is superior to another is racist. That's the majority of the racism I experienced growing up in Ireland with an Asian parent. I was looked down upon, joked about, stereotypes were slapped upon me because I was seen as different. That's what hurts. By way of how you were born you are inferior. Imagine having people think that about you? That's what you need to understand racism, that's why I think the definition that I supplied best fits this.

    Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another.

    We need to leave the politics out of it. Now it seems ok to look down on people and to see them as inferior at least if you have their best interests at heart. That's what I see in this new definition of racism and in practise and it disgusts me.

    From my experiences peoples attitudes haven't changed much over the years. There always will be a small amount of bigoted people, usually very ignorant and very stupid. Just you used to know who the racists were because they would let you know. I preferred that to them lying and smiling to my face.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,607 ✭✭✭✭ banie01

    As to whether racist view are widespread now, the simple test is to ask people from cultural or ethnic minority backgrounds what their experience is. Whatever it is, listen to it.

    This is the measure that matters. Yes we should all strive to be more aware of our biases and be more accepting. But, the measure of whether that works? Is in the perceptions and experiences of those who are subject to those bias, not in our own understanding of what we think they feel.

    Also fully agree re cultural exposure and in particular travel. Particularly outside the Anglophone world it really does soften ones views. What we here in Ireland are fond of calling parochialism, is a form of clannishness that is falling more and more by the wayside. If the Irish welcome means anything at all these days? We should remember to try and extend it more. To learn from our own diaspora and remember what it was like to be locked out by the "natives" in so many of the places we went to.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,060 ✭✭✭✭ osarusan

    Is Ireland racist?

    At a national/structural level, then No. There are countries in which some element of discrimnation is pretty much woven into the structure/identity of the country, and Ireland is not one of them.

    Are there pockets of racism? For sure, like everywhere.

    Are there people who like to shoehorn racism into everything, as a motivation for any incident involving people of different races? Definitely.

    Are there people who like to argue endlessly about how X isn't racist, really, when you look at it from this pointless angle? Definitely.

    Are there people who like to blindly sling the term 'racism' around the place when somebody raises a legitimate issue? Definitely.

    Are there people who think they are being oh-so-cunning by cloaking their racism in 'a legitimate issue'? Definitely.

    I'd say similar about 'racism' as I've said about 'rape' in the past - everybody agrees that it's wrong, but there's huge disagreement (and much of that disingenuous) about what it actually is.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,184 ✭✭✭✭ Wanderer78

    i think we are largely very open and accepting, but i suspect the tides slowly turning there to!

  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus

    @osarusan wrote:

    I'd say similar about 'racism' as I've said about 'rape' in the past - everybody agrees that it's wrong, but there's huge disagreement (and much of that disingenuous) about what it actually is.

    This is a good comparison. Like sexual assault/sexual harassment, it's one of those things that for a subset of people, it happens frequently enough to be a regular part of their life. For everyone else, they rarely if ever see it happening.

    And it results in a disconnect - the first group experience it so often that they can only assume the second group are aware of it but ignore it or take part in it. The second group see it so infrequently - if ever - that they struggle to accept that it is as ubiquitous as the first group makes it out to be.

    The reality is that both situations can be true - that some people experience or engage in racism on a regular, perhaps even daily basis, and that everyone else, even a majority, are completely unaware of it.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Much like the definition of racism many other words have been updated recently to push political agendas. Of course there will be resistance from those who refuse to update their definitions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,883 ✭✭✭ kravmaga

    OP, according to this recent survey, a lot of Irish people are on the fence and will not reveal their true opinion in public but behind the scenes is different.

    Opinions are different. Racism exists in every country. Prejudice and discrimination also exists in every country in the world.

    Direct discrimination, Indirect discrimination, Positive discrimination and Positive action are all well and alive in any country.

    An interesting book published by Gordon Allport in 1954, an American psychologist published a book called "The nature of Prejudice" in which he identified five levels of prejudice. Allport related his scale particularly to the Jews in Nazi Germany.

    OP, Ireland is no more racist as a country than any other in the world.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,956 ✭✭✭ Fandymo

    I call bullshit on that. Nationality would be xenophobia.

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  • Posts: 18,752 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    As a country Ireland is not racist.

    Are there racists in Ireland? Absolutely. The worst ones in my opinion are the ones who try to disguise their racism as something else, something totally different. For example, they sudden worry for our services, education, health, that these things are completely under pressure because of a few new immigrants.

    point out that immigrants are all from different backgrounds, socio economic backgrounds, education backgrounds, then it's something else...

    always a very well spoken reason to put down the non natives.