If the foghorns of nationalism and socialism are to be believed, then an ill-informed sermon given by an old school preacher in a church in North Belfast is the worst thing that happened anywhere, ever. Yes, even worse than the last ‘worst thing that happened anywhere, ever’, the protests against the removal of the national flag from the capital’s city hall.
The lefty commentariat screeched that the sky was about to fall down, that businesses would be driven out and that hospitals would be rendered useless as medics fled for asylum to more enlightened climes. (Though not to those Islamic countries where Muslim fundamentalists are slaughtering other Muslims and Christians in wholesale quantities).
Relax: none of this is going to happen. It is all just scare stories. London is sprinkled with Islamic hate preachers, yet it remains a global magnet for investment.
The United States has plenty of noisy poisonous Christian fundamentalist nut jobs, but that does not stop people of all races and creeds flocking there.
People throwing bombs into hotels, now that is going to get the attention of potential investors!
Fanatics with big mouths and small intellects can be found everywhere and are usually just ignored. Even violent street protests can be avoided, they are commonplace in Berlin and Barcelona, both cities that remain high on the “want to go to” lists of business people and tourists.
What really makes Northern Ireland stand out in the western world is that we have terrorists attempting to murder the occupants of hotel lobbies. That sort of activity makes Poland or Portugal or even Prestatyn, look like a much better option for investment.
The IRA bomb attack on the Everglades Hotel in Londonderry was quickly swept under the carpet while the hysterical, barely disguised, ‘Prods are racist’ narrative continued to be built. Peter Robinson made some clumsy off-the-cuff remarks and naturally there were volleys of demands for him to resign.
Cranking the hysteria up a notch, Anna Lo, an Alliance Party politician who considers the Unionist population of Northern Ireland to be colonists, claimed she was leaving politics, and maybe the country, due to abuse from racist loyalists.
It was made clear to us that it was not just racists, but loyalist racists, and so the decision by a candidate who came sixth in the recent euro elections to leave politics became a major story. Reports that she was planning to quit anyway were quickly glossed over.
Naturally Sinn Fein charged in, ratcheting up the tension and shouting about hate crimes.
Presumably in the doublespeak of Provisional Irish Republican Movement executing Jean McConville, forcing Patsy Gillespie to become a human bomb (a vile act that the Smithwick Tribunal has heard was sanctioned by Martin McGuinness), the slaughter of Bloody Friday, the bombing of a Shankill Road fish shop and countless other acts of terrorist barbarity are now to be classified as acts of love.
With the stench of hypocrisy wafting through the air, protests were organised by the nationalists and socialists, with the usual useful fools of liberalism waiting attendance.
The same people who were conspicuous by their absence at a recent protest to highlight the plight of the hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls who have been kidnapped by Islamic extremists and who face rape and slavery or death.
Yes there is racism in Northern Ireland, as there is everywhere, and it should be confronted and those responsible for racist attacks should be rooted out and punished.
However what we have seen recently looks very much like an attempt to hi-jack the cause of anti-racism and to pervert it into another propaganda device to demonise Unionists. In much the same way that the people who that planted bombs, tortured informers and executed innocents and made their bodies disappear have claimed and corrupted the rhetoric of human rights.
The opponents of Unionism are using the actions of an unpleasant and unrepresentative few to stigmatise the entire Unionist community, exactly the same thing that Pastor O’Connell did to Muslims.
Unionists are well used to receiving the sort of abuse that would not be tolerated against any other community. There has been an on-going effort to ensure that Unionists are branded “bigots”, read the online comments section of any local newspaper and you will clearly see that to be the case. That “racist” is now being added to the pot is not a surprise.
The danger is that this relentless campaign to smear Unionists will provoke a backlash. If you stoke up tensions and scream “racist” at people long enough, some of them are eventually going to get fed up with it and lash out.
When this happens the anti-Unionist brigade will of course say “told you so” and admit no complicity in fanning the flames.