On his tour of Ireland, Barack O’Bama hoisted a Guiness, chatted with the people of Moneygall, played with a hurling stick, and of course gave a speech. For the most part, the speech was fine — the usual blarney that accompanies interaction between American politicians of both parties and the Irish. One part, however, will have tongues wagging in London and perhaps particularly Belfast (via Daniel Foster):
“Yours is also a history of proud and defiant endurance, of a nation that kept alive the flame of knowledge in dark ages that overcame occupation and outlived fallow fields, that tramped over its troubles – of a resilient people that beat all the odds.”
Occupation? England invaded and conquered Ireland more than occupied it; the British believed for much longer than the US has been in existence that they owned the place. The German Army and SS occupied France in World War II, but they didn’t claim to own it. O’Bama has the right idea — the Irish spent centuries in throwing off the yoke of British tyranny — but chose a poorly-considered word to describe it.
Put aside the semantics for now, though. O’Bama’s next stop is London, where Queen Elizabeth is still celebrated as the monarch of Great Britain, Scotland, and Northern Ireland — a six-county region on the same island that the UK still controls. Is Obama claiming that to be an occupation as well? If not, perhaps he can explain just when the “occupation” in the North ended. His hosts in London would probably love to hear that explanation.
Note: The subheader cumhact chliste is my attempt to translate the phrase “smart power” into Irish. I’m a bit rusty in Irish, but I think that’s pretty close.
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Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!