POLITICAL beliefs are complex aren’t they.
I grew up in inner city Birmingham in an Irish family with two Irish immigrant parents.
Those people, that city, that Irish community, those years, formed my beliefs.
I am unashamedly of the left. I think society could be organised in such a way that it is a lot fairer, a lot more humane, a lot more just.
I’ve also been around long enough to know that, while my ideals remain, there are problems with my own political ideology.
The distortions of left wing beliefs by Stalin and Mao created mass murder. Principles can quickly become poison.
Further, anyone who has had any experience of left wing politics knows that the sectarian left hates other people on the left more than it hates anything else.
I’m an adult. I can recognise all of that.
I’ll always be a socialist but I’ll always know some on my political spectrum have views that are not exactly admirable.
Take the likes of Claire Fox, born in Britain like me, of Irish parents.
She too, ostensibly, had left wing beliefs, though hers took her as far as the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Since those days she has travelled to the Brexit Party and been nominated to the House of Lords by Boris Johnson.
Back in the day, though, her left wing grouping openly sought to justify the IRA Warrington bombings that killed two children, a 12-year-old and a three-year-old.
I’ve never heard any Irish person ever justify the deaths of those two children. Not one. Ever.
At the time Claire Fox did so she was 33 years old. So, with the foolishness of youth ruled out, I’m struggling to think what her excuse for such poisonous views might have been. Like I say, there is nothing to be admired there.
On the roads and byways around where I’m writing this there are a number of Covid-19 information boards.
An increasing number of these have been defaced with slogans such as ‘Hoax’ or ‘Lies’ or anti-mask graffiti.
Some of this can be attributed to people I’ve already discussed in this column, those who believe in conspiracies and wave Tricolours outside courtrooms.
Some of this Covid-19 politics is theirs. But not all. For there is another group inside this umbrella who are lazily flirting with the extreme right even if they don’t admit it.
Amongst this group, who might like to be called alternative Irish, with their emphasis on non-mainstream therapies, the dangers of fluoride in water, chemtrails in the sky, and any number of specific diets, there is a growing cohort of anti-mask activists.
Now, as I said about my own beliefs, you need, as a fully independent adult, to be able to acknowledge where your beliefs are coming from.
If you find your beliefs are coming from a hotchpotch of conspiracy theories, some of them embedded in anti-Semitic roots, from rallies addressed by members of far right parties, from the politics of extreme nationalists, from beliefs shared by anti-immigrant politicians and racists, you need to admit that.
You need to question that. Or admit that you share it.
White dreadlocks or a bandana don’t give you a political free-pass. Because you are an adult and you want to be treated like one.
If, instead, your anti-mask beliefs and undermining of public health advice, which I presume you accept when it comes to wearing a seatbelt or the dangers of drink driving or the detrimental effects of smoking or the perils of Radon gas, come from the fact you’ve just had enough, well, haven’t we all?
I’ll come clean to all of you anti-mask people, and not on my high horse of being a health worker in the Irish health system, but simply as a fellow adult.
I don’t think the utterly overwhelming majority of the world’s doctors are lying to me about Covid-19 and I don’t think they are mistaken.
I don’t like wearing a mask but then I don’t like getting up really early for a shift or not having that just-one-last-pint.
But I’m an adult and sometimes I just have to do what that entails.
And when it comes to my politics I know its failings and I can still defend my beliefs.