Blogs are funny.
I say that because every day the counter on this blog goes up by about 20-odd visits, but only the dedicated few actually post comments. Sometimes people will say to me in passing "oh, yes I saw such and such on your blog a few days ago", and it takes me by surprise because I never really thought that person would even be remotely interested in my ramblings.
So it probably pertains that there are people reading this who:
a) are more or less on the same wavelength as me (which is great)
b) others who are just curious and mildly intrigued (which is fine - I hope you're finding out about things), and
c) also others who are downright opposed and even hostile to my beliefs, views and interests. (I hope you're busy copying-and-pasting plenty of juicy stuff from here about rural mission halls to use against me in the future character assassination you're planning for me. Or maybe just to regurgitate in some tin-pot email forum)
Anyway, I had a conversation today with Person X. Person X was a bit sensitive to my last two posts - because I dared to use the word "Protestant". Person X thought that in our new shiny Northern Ireland, using the "P word" was rather indelicate, and that if I had any sense I should avoid referring to such things. So Person X's advice was for me to deny who I am. What a good idea.
Person X also flatly rejected the notion that there was an unspoken theme that Protestants have no culture. So, Person X, I refer you to Exhibit A - Edna Longley's essay entitled "Ulster Protestants and the Question of Culture" in the book Last Before America, published in 2001. In the very first sentence, she refers to "...the perceived culturelessness of Ulster Protestants..." and that in Northern Ireland there is a tendency to "...erase the cultural presence and cultural memory..."
Exhibit B proves that this is not a new idea, and it's not limited to Northern Ireland. John Fiske in his masterful 1900 book "Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America" he says:
"...The name Scotch-Irish is an awkward compound, and is in many quarters condemned. Curiously enough, there is no one who seems to object to it so strongly as the Irish Catholic. While his feelings toward the “Far-Downer” are certainly not affectionate, he is nevertheless anxious to claim him, with his deeds and trophies, as simply Irish, and grudges to Scotland the claim to any share in producing him. It must be admitted, however, that there is a point of view from which the Scotch-Irish may be regarded as more Scotch than Irish. The difficulty might be compromised by calling them Ulstermen, or Ulster Presbyterians..."
So no doubt Person X will be upset by this post too, but we have to stop walking on eggshells and recognise the reality we live in. There is a widespread view that Protestants have no culture, and there is a tendency, or maybe even an objective, to airbrush Ulster-Scots people away (as Fiske says) "as simply Irish". Neither situation is true, but both are prevalent and should be set straight.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Posted by Mark at Tuesday, September 11, 2007