Controversy over Kevin Myers’s article

 

Sir, – I do not disagree with any part of Caryna Camerino’s piece (Opinion, August 3rd) on Kevin Myers’s article. However, if she was shown even a portion of the pro-Jewish/Israeli articles penned by Mr Myers over the past 20 years, might she be persuaded to add a caveat to her excellent article? – Yours, etc,

GERRY MURPHY,

Sutton,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – As a secular Jew having lived and worked in Ireland for the past 30 years, Caryna Camerino’s brilliantly written piece encapsulates perfectly my own experience (Opinion, August 3rd).

The Jewish Representative Council does not speak for me when it defends Kevin Myers’ “track record” of speaking in defence of Jews. Mr Myers’s singular lack of knowledge and understanding of Jewish culture and the history of the Holocaust have been emphasised by his attempts at self-explanation following the scarcely credible article in the Sunday Times that was as dangerous as it was offensive.

I participate in a summer course run by Holocaust Education Trust Ireland that teaches on the subject of the Holocaust. My presentation recounts the harrowing story of survival of my mother and grandmother through Nazi-occupied Poland. Other family members were murdered.

Kevin Myers says there is no redemption for him. Might I suggest he joins our three-day course held in Trinity College? There is normally a fee to attend, but I’m sure we would be happy to waive this. Consider it my contribution to his redemption. – Yours, etc,

OLIVER SEARS,

Dublin 2 .

Sir, – I was pleased to see the article by a “real Jew”, Caryna Camerino (Opinion, August 3rd) .

As a young Wexfordman I was obliged for economic reasons to emigrate in the late 1940s to London. There I lived for a time in an area of east London that had a large Jewish population; I married into an Italian family that had a number of Jewish friends who became my friends also. So I get upset when I read anti-Jewish comments.

Unfortunately these sometimes appear in your letters columns and I gather your former columnist, Kevin Myers, was guilty in a recent article (which I did not read). Hence my pleasure at reading an article that demolishes anti-Semitism.

Let’s face it: the founder of the way of life of most of our fellow countrymen was Jewish. I have trodden the ground where he preached and am proud to call myself a Christian. Our second great commandment is: “Thou shall love thy neighbour”. I am proud to regard Jews as my neighbours. – Yours, etc,

W J MURPHY,

Malahide,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Karl Martin (August 2nd), berates Kevin Myers’s critics for being “happy to kick the man when he is down.” But aren’t they simply doing what Mr Myers has done himself throughout much of his own very successful career, namely picking on people when they are weak and vulnerable?

The only difference, as far as I can see, is that his many critics are mostly doing it for less financial benefit than him, and to much less acclaim. – Yours, etc,

JOE McCARTHY,

Arbour Hill, Dublin D7.

Sir, – Kevin Myers is, in my opinion, a complex and original thinker. He is also an instinctive user of hyperbole to make his points, which seem to me to be intended to provoke thought rather than to hurt. I find his writing at times infuriating, at times refreshing, and generally engaging.

Superficial reading can result in misunderstanding matters of race, religion and gender in the near-institutionalised self-censorship of our soundbite age. Two Jewish women have been smart and assertive enough to put a high price on their talents. What’s the problem?

The reduction of critical thinking to a mental “good/bad” box-ticking exercise will not resolve complex issues, but will only stifle thought. The right of reply is the weapon of those seeking to change opinions with which they disagree. Silencing Kevin Myers denies all of us that right. – Yours, etc,

CATHERINE TWOMEY,

Tramore,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – People have, understandably, been offended and taken grievous umbrage to Kevin Myers’s odious spoutings in last week’s Sunday Times.

They are right to call him out. Kevin Myers got it wrong. He knows that and has said as much. But not only has he not defended his comments, he has retracted them, apologised unconditionally and expressed remorse. He has lost his job and main source of income. Rightly so, he said himself.

He has said his reputation is in tatters and he has no career left. He has not slept in two days. He said he is “in a very bad way” and that if it was not for the support of members of the Jewish community in Ireland, he might not have survived psychologically.

Kevin Myers is no anti-Semite. Anyone who has read his columns over the years knows this. While his dismissal may be justified and I often did not support sentiments he expressed, we should look at the credit side of the Myers ledger too. There is infinitely more to him than single mothers and Africa.

He can be a dazzling writer. He made me laugh out loud on the bus. On a more serious note, his tireless work on the recognition of the Irish Great War dead over the years stands out. He gave one of the finest speeches I’ve heard on the Irish in the second World War in Collins Barracks. He eloquently challenged the narrative of physical force republicanism. He regularly brought the likes of the health service, Irish road safety, political incompetence and profligacy into focus. He wrote beautifully on the turning of the seasons and memorably on the passing of his dog Traffic. Ironically, he also regularly offered a contrarian voice in defence of Israel.

The man must lie in the bed he has made for himself. But let us not set fire to it. By his own admission, he got it wrong on this occasion, but we all do at some stage. He did not kill anyone. He has also, as the saying goes, done the State some service. – Yours, etc,

ROB SADLIER,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Kevin Myers is an ass, but much of the sanctimonious condemnation by other media professionals is a disingenuous attempt to imply something that is far from evident: that everything else published is kosher –in the broad sense of the word. – Yours, etc,

EOIN DILLON,

Mount Brown,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – With the departure of Kevin Myers from the Sunday Times, TV3 has the perfect replacement for Vincent Browne. – Yours, etc,

DAMIEN CARROLL,

Kingswood,

Dublin 24.

Sir, – When I awoke last Sunday morning to the news that Kevin Myers had been thrown to the wolves by the Sunday Times because of allegedly anti-Semitic remarks, I could not believe my eyes. Other things, such as perceived misogyny arose later – maybe both were connected in this instance! This was the Kevin Myers who defends the right of Israel to exist and condemns those states surrounding it who would drive it in to the sea. Thankfully the Jewish Council of Ireland came to his defence.

Kevin Myers did great work in rehabilitating Irish soldiers of the Great War at a time when it was not fashionable to do so. I recall the time when president Patrick Hillery declined an invitation to St Patrick’s Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday (probably at Charles Haughey’s instigation) saying he did not attend ceremonies commemorating “foreign armies”. Such a view would be unthinkable now.

Kevin Myers, like Conor Cruise O Brien, also took on many nationalist shibboleths here which even Sinn Féin would not buy into now.

Has the PC brigade taken over so completely that there is now no room for a provocative and contrarian types such as Kevin Myers? – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN CAFFERTY,

Ballina,

Co Mayo.

Sir, – The Irish Times is to be commended for allowing your readers air their opinions on the controversy surrounding Kevin Myers’s article.

He has some supporters and many critics, which is par for the polemicist’s course. However, I thought Fintan O’Toole (Opinion, August 1st) was less than fair in describing his writing as “standard-issue bile”. As a recent winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism, Mr O’Toole should bear in mind this quote from Orwell’s introduction to Animal Farm: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – Yours, etc,

JOHN O’BYRNE,

Harold’s Cross,

Dublin 6W.