Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Extremist liberals

Until recently, Ireland granted citizenship to anyone born on its soil. This led to heavily pregnant women from outside Europe "holidaying" in Ireland in order to give birth there and get their children into the EU.

Not surprisingly in a recent referendum 80% of the Irish voted against this policy. The new policy is still very liberal, as it's possible to claim citizenship after only three years residency in Ireland.

Nonetheless, the Irish have been harshly criticised in an Age newspaper article for their supposed racism and xenophobia in voting for the changes. The whole article is an exercise in guilt-mongering and hand-wringing. The author even quotes the Catholic Archbishop asking "Has Ireland lost its soul?"

Now, if you're not a liberal, this response will seem very extreme. The Irish were merely upholding a minimum level of control over the granting of citizenship. And yet from the vast distance of Melbourne they are scrutinised and vilified.

What can explain this? Simply, that for liberals what makes us human is our ability to fashion who we are and what we do from our own will and reason. Once you accept this idea, then it becomes seriously wrong to form your identity from something you inherit, rather than fashion for yourself, such as a traditional ethnic national identity.

So liberals get panicky when ordinary people show a (natural) preference for maintaining a traditional nationalism based on ethnic ties, such as has existed in Ireland for many centuries. Hence the extreme reaction to what is effectively a very small restriction on foreign immigration into Ireland.

Which is all to say that the ordinary Irish shouldn't take the name calling too much to heart. Liberals can hardly help their extreme reactions on such issues, as they are simply following through, in a logical way, with their first principles.

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