Brendan O’Neill

Intolerant liberals have a new target: the DUP

Intolerant liberals have a new target: the DUP
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Memo to London-based liberals: not everyone shares your point of view. Some people — brace yourself for this — have different opinions to yours. Amazing, I know. But true. So please dial down your hysteria about the DUP. Because I know you think it makes you look super-tolerant to bash the supposed rednecks and religious fruitcakes of Northern Ireland who’ve never attended a gay wedding or made a donation to Greenpeace, but it of course does the opposite — it exposes your own intolerance.

The fury over the DUP is reaching fever pitch. Once it had been revealed that May would be working with the DUP, people were out in force to mock and sneer at these ‘religious fundamentalists’ and ‘climate-change deniers’ —the greatest thoughtcrime of our era — who are antsy about gay marriage and opposed to the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. This party doesn’t even believe in dinosaurs, guffawed internet wags, after it was revealed that some DUP members hold creationist views.

Some even took to the streets of Westminster yesterday to rage against the DUP. A few hundred impeccably right-on young people carried placards branding the DUP ‘anti-gay, anti-women, anti-green’. (It amazes, and terrifies, me that being critical of the politics of environmentalism is now casually put alongside homophobia and misogyny as an unspeakable evil. That’s pretty fundamentalist too, no?) One protester’s comment summed up the flimsiness of the fury. ‘I didn’t know who the DUP were, I had to Google them,' he said. From Googling a party to railing against it in the space of minutes: the modern mindset summed up.

In ‘cosying up to the assorted bigots that make up the DUP’, May has created a situation that echoes The Handmaid’s Tale, said one columnist. People are sharing memes of May meeting the DUP dressed as one of the women from the Channel 4 production of The Handmaid’s Tale. Yes, really, they think that because this party isn’t pro-choice and doesn’t love gay marriage then it’s basically the Sons of Jacob from Margaret Atwood’s  dystopian tale, threatening to reduce women to slaves of men.

Everyone needs to calm down. For two reasons. First because the DUP’s views are relatively common in Ireland and, I dare say, in many parts of Britain. Look, I know this is inconvenient, and you’d prefer it if everyone in the country was a carbon copy of you and your lovely friends, but some people out there are religious. They have traditional views. They think marriage should be between a man and a woman and they think abortion is morally wrong. They aren’t evil. They aren’t fundamentalists. They just don’t agree with you.

And the second reason everyone needs to calm down is because there’s not a smidgen of a chance that the DUP’s attitudes on something like abortion — which is still outlawed in Northern Ireland — will spread through Britain courtesy of May and her desperation to hold on to power. Indeed, DUP sources have confirmed that they have ‘no interest in including controversial social issues such as gay marriage or abortion in any deal’. 

Why has there been a meltdown over the DUP if its social views pose no threat whatsoever to mainland British laws? Because those people always looking for an outlet for their outsized sense of moral superiority cannot resist the temptation to pontificate against Others. Against ‘deplorables’, in Hillary’s words. Against the backward. Against — let’s not sugar-coat it — the inferior. They need this. It’s the means through which they assert their moral perfection. There’s an ironically religious bent to it all: my views are next to godliness and those people — those climate-change-denying, gay-marriage-questioning heretics — must not be allowed to breath the same political air as me.

And all the while we have Labourites like Jeremy Corbyn mixing with Islamist groups that share all these same social views, except in an even more extreme form. Yet the people beating the streets over the DUP say nothing. What a double standard.