Being a peasant is nothing to be ashamed of. Being ignorant is nothing to be proud of.
Richard Waghorne derides the Irish language and Irish folk music as “peasant“. As if their worth was somehow diminished by that classification?
Richard’s a cultured type of fellow, you know. His references and allusions are impeccable, his shibboleths carefully rehearsed. It’s all about projecting the right image: in with the in-crowd, running with the pack, toe the party line, true blue, to the hilt, died in the wool, on the right side, not “one of them”, gentleman to the core, faultless credentials, right sort.
Not sure what I mean? I invite you to read Richard’s blog. Pick any three posts at random. Go on, pick six! Observe the careful construction, the selective examples, the name dropping (and fawning), the cultural references. These posts are not arguments or apologiae. They are simply expressions of identity: flag-waving, soccer-chants.
“Look at me! I’m a right-wing, neo-con, pro-Bush, pro-business, anti-peasant! You’ll never catch me conceding any point to them. When I grow up I want to be an internationally-renowned right-wing intellectual commentator, just like <insert_here_from_list>”.
Richard’s got a plan to acheive this goal: observe and imitate (monkey-see, monkey-do). No room for independent thought or open-mindedness here! Start with the conclusion (the “appropriate” conclusion of course) and construct the argument to fit. Colour it up with some suitably highbrow references and presto! Childs play!
It certainly is. Debating for dummies. Blogging by numbers. It can look very impressive too, and if you are the kind of person who wants nothing more than to have your prejudices and misconceptions re-affirmed then this kind of thing should keep you going for quite a while. There is no shortage of this kind of cheerleader blogging at any end of the political spectrum, and no shortage of mobs to applaud it.
So, Richard’s argument against the Irish language and Irish music is essentially that they are “peasant”. Translation? “The wrong sort, really. Nasty, backward types. Not like us. Oh – and farmers too. Smelly.”
Of course, I’m just a peasant. I confess to being ignorant of a great many subjects, as Richard is of Irish artists like Máirtín Ó Cadhain. Unlike Richard, however, I do not consider ignorance to be a virtue. I am open-minded, and willing to learn. How can you tell? That’s easy: comments are open.