So much for Irish artists sharing ideas without interference . . .
OPINION:A cultural boycott is no substitute for the power and solace of human contact
EVERY GENERATION creates the right monsters to destroy itself. A baker I once knew said that to me.
Now let me suggest the monster of our time is a device that creates the perfect human. This human hears what he wants to hear, sees what he wants to see and already knows everything he needs to know. The machine’s primary attribute is a shield through which nothing can penetrate that suggests what our man hears and sees may not be the whole truth.
In short, this machine provides him certainty in a world that, if left unfiltered, is otherwise an arbitrary, capricious and infuriating place. Behavioural economists call this phenomenon the psychology of denial, and it can result in an uncompromising and sometimes dangerous delusion that brooks no interference.
This newspaper has already reported on my experience at the hands of Dr Raymond Deane, cultural liaison and sporting boycott officer of a group that seeks an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, regarding an event I had cancelled months beforehand due to the lingering effects of cancer.
My comments are on the record.
I have always had a mistrust of organised mobs. I marched against one in the 1970s beside my father, who was active in the Itinerant Settlement Committee, along with a handful of others. Our family used to get bullets in envelopes, and my father made the front page of The Irish Times getting himself beaten up. Everyone has certain memories branded on to their young minds – that day is one of mine. Even if those mobs have in time changed to keyboard warriors expressing a more cultivated umbrage, the threats are still threats.
My brother Richard, a high-profile figure in the ultramarathon world, reached out to Dr Deane by email and phone.
There followed an exchange of emails. I would have imagined that Dr Deane would have welcomed dialogue with a leading sports figure. Instead, he terminated my brother’s polite and thoughtful points, including the obvious one that sports and politics should never mix, with the following response: “This discussion, as far as I am concerned, is hereby terminated. And further reply from you will go to spam.”
So much for dialogue.
In another email, Deane states: “That your brother sees himself as an enemy is clear from the article in today’s [May 15th] Irish Times. It is unfortunate that he has lent himself to that paper’s steady campaign of defamation of human rights activists . . .”
Say what? This is the philosophy of a perfect man, who sees a grey world in black-and-white: you are either with us or against us. I grew tired of listening to that mantra in the United States under the Bush and Cheney administration, and I’m tired of listening to it now.