Re: Megan Nolan, Op-Ed, ‘I Didn’t Hate the English—Until Now,’ The New York Times, Oct. 19, 2018, Section A, page 35 <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/opinion/england-ireland-border-brexit.html>.
Re: Megan Nolan, ‘English ignorance about Ireland just isn’t funny anymore,’ The Irish Times (Oct. 29, 2018, 06:30 AM) <https://tinyurl.com/y8eeb58v>.
Ms Nolan wrote: “But there was an idea not so long ago, even among many Irish, that it was time to move on. We were all going to be European together forever, after all, and we ought to at least try to smooth over our differences.”
Ms Nolan’s position is difficult to understand. In 1975, the British voted to join the EEC (now the EU). They intended to join a free trade area. They joined as a matter of self-interest: their self-interest. The British did not join the EEC to benefit Ireland, and they did not join to injure Ireland. More importantly, they did not promise to make their membership in the EEC irrevocable. Likewise, Ireland had its own political processes, and it jointed the EEC at about the same time for its own reasons. If Ms Nolan felt she and other Irish had justifiable grievances against the British, it is difficult to see why the UK’s joining a trade association! should assuage those differences; it is equally difficult to see why the UK’s leaving that trade association should resurrect any strong feelings of animus that have been long quiescent.
It seems to me that this is the reality of what Ms Nolan meant:  I do not want to be Irish;  I do not want to be Irish and European; and most importantly,  I want to be European and I insist that you be European right along with me. We all ought to give up our local identities in favour of the new supra-national Brussels-based politically-constructed identity. By leaving the EU, the British have forced me to rethink who I am and what my identity is, and I would rather not think about that at all. Why? Because it hurts.
Now, I do not doubt that the post-Brexit psychological harm Ms Nolan is experiencing is real—to her—and perhaps to many others too. But the same can be said for the psychological harm any woman and any man experiences in any country at any time in history where the “injured” person’s favoured party or politician fails to hold or take power. (Just think about how hurt Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters felt after the 2016 presidential election in the United States.) The proper response to a person’s claiming the mantle of such an “injury” is not to give them the platform of The Irish Times or The New York Times, but to help the wounded individual find a friend or mentor, clergyperson or psychologist.
Seth Barrett Tillman, A Response to Megan Nolan’s: “I Didn’t Hate the English—Until Now,” New Reform Club (Nov. 4, 2018, 10:58 AM), https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2018/11/a-response-to-megan-nolans-i-didnt-hate.html.