I’ve dilly-dallied for a while over whether or not to respond to the words of Kevin Myers over the past week or so and finally decided that I may as well say a few words, if only to try to get the feeling of extreme annoyance that I’ve had since I read his piece off my chest. I was away at Oxegen the week before last and so I was a little shut off from the outside world and therefore blissfully unaware of Myers’ piece until I saw Bryan Mukandi’s response to it for the Irish Times, linked to on his blog. I’m glad that Bryan was given the forum of the newspaper to express his views but, in a way, it’s a shame that it took an African to be the one to publicly denounce Myers. Every right-thinking Irishman should have been lambasting him for such a shameful display of racism. For that is what it was.
To clarify, I don’t entirely disagree with Myers’ central thesis that “self serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa”. Pouring money into Africa without being sure of where it’s going is no help at all, and is liable to end up in the wrong hands, most likely those of one of the many despotic, Mercedes-chauffeured, fat dictators who have so much of the continent in their stranglehold. In a pre-emptive strike against those who might accuse him of being uncaring, Myers is at pains to point out that he has been to Ethiopia and has been hit in the pocket by forking out for these ungrateful little bastards. Well Kevin, I have been to Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and therefore take huge umbrage against his talk of how “the wide-eyed child we saved, twenty years ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty siring children whenever the whim takes him”. Like many of you, I had to reach for the dictionary for the word ‘priapic’. It means:
1. Of, relating to, or resembling a phallus; phallic.
2. Relating to or overly concerned with masculinity.
So Myers is either calling the men of Ethiopia a bunch of dicks or, more likely, he reckons they are overly macho. Yep, macho, gun-happy, promiscuous idiots - that’s how Ireland’s best-known columnist chooses to characterise the men of an entire nation. That, Mr. Myers, is nothing but cheap and pathetic racism. An intelligent man like yourself should really know better than to tar an entire nation with such a disgusting slur. And that is why you have been reported to the Gardaí by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Of course, he doesn’t stop there, choosing also to brand the entire country of Somalia as “another fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts.” So that’s two huge nations dismissed with a sweep of the Myers’ pen. Truly shameful. It is this kind of crass, vile language being applied to pretty much an entire continent of people that leaves Myers without a leg to stand on. I'm bored with his article by now, but he also suggests that malaria "is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating". It's also a particularly horrible way to die Kevin, but you don't need to worry about that, I suppose.
I am not a self-righteous hippy. I am not a politically-correct puritan. But I fail to see why anyone should have to listen to that kind of bile-filled, hateful crap from anyone in the mainstream media, and that is why I will not be buying the Independent again for as long as Myers is in their employment. Kevin Myers, you are not Jonathan Swift and this is not a Modest Proposal. You are a shock hack and this is an indecent proposal.
Update: When writing this piece I completely forgot to throw in a link to another response to Myers I came across that I really like. It's from bodhránbanger and it's called 'Why Kevin Myers is No Longer a Journalist'.