Burton tries to pinkwash Jobstown


Joan Burton has seized upon her brief inconvenience in being faced with the people in Jobstown last week to try and smear water charge resistance in general.

Now the Phone is already notorious for inventing quotes from random people she claims to meet about how they just love austerity so perhaps you’ll forgive us some cynicism. In any case, according to the Irish Times:
"Joan Burton has accused Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy of “smirking” while protesters threw missiles and taunted gardaí with homophobic and misogynistic remarks during the water chargers protest."

The implication of her smear being that Paul is somehow not only OK with homophobia and misogyny but finds it a laughing matter. We’ve no time for electoral politics, we will no more be voting for Paul than Joan but this claim strikes us as more than a little unbelievable. But its not the first time we have seen Labour Party members attempt to conscript the language of feminism to defend the indefensible.

Another party member after Jobstown tried to present the whole protest as misogynistic because Joan is a woman. But women bear the brunt of the poverty policies pushed by Joan. If you want a genuine feminist action you need look no further than the mass picket by over 200 women of the Coolock Garda station in response to the Garda violence they have been on the receiving end of. Labour Party supporters have remained silent about those assaults while doing their best to exaggerate a single water balloon to Pearl Harbour proportions.

What about the similar attempt by Joan to use homophobia as a stick to beat the movement? According to one of our members
"I feel about as comfortable with Joan fucking Burton cynically using her "concern" for the oppression I experience, homophobia, as a political weapon as I do with the Israeli State using its "concern" for LGBT people for its own purposes. Pinkwashing is in itself a form of homophobia, Joan."

In case you are not familiar with the term, here is a statement about Israeli Pinkwashing from the Palestinian Queer organisation, alQaws:
"One of alQaws’ major political activities over the last few years has been our effective response to the Israeli government’s PR campaign commonly known as ‘pinkwashing.’ This strategy, adopted by the Israeli state and the pro-Israel lobby, ais to distract American and European audiences from the illegal Israeli occupation and larger Apartheid policies, by promoting Israel as a progressive liberal state; a 'gay haven' in the midst of an oppressive and homophobic Palestinian society and Arab world. Members of alQaws have been especially active in drawing attention to the brutal Human Rights violations committed by the Israeli state against Palestinians, which ‘pinkwashing’ seeks to veil."

It's very hard to take Burton's commitment to combatting homophobia seriously. Despite pre-election commitments and lots of hand-wringing from various Labour ministers over the lifetime of the government, Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act remains on the statute books. Schools and hospitals which are under the patronage or control of the churches - which is the vast majority of them - still retain the right to discriminate against employees or potential employees to 'protect their ethos' - i.e. this gives them the power to fire LGBT teachers. But of course its very much harder for her to kick up against powerful institutions like the catholic church than to kick down at real or imagined random individuals in Jobstown.

Now the movement against the water tax is a mass movement involving tens of thousands of people. Certainly there must be both homophobes and misogynists among that number. We have already exposed the racism of fragments that started publishing attacks on migrant workers. It’s important that were it occurs such marginalising behaviour is challenged from within the movement.

But while these cynical inventions by Labour Party supporters might swing a couple of liberals they do real damage to movements against homophobia, misogyny and racism by seeking to associate such opposition with a deeply unpopular and unrelated charge. This is the worst sort of cynical and craven political opportunism.

Our message is simple homophobia, misogyny and racism have no place within the movement, and they can only help the government game of divide and rule. We will challenge them if and when they arise. But this cynical exercise by a deeply unpopular party to hide its brutal economic policies behind a liberal gloss can only harm those who genuinely seek to end oppression and marginalisation.

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )