Girl About Townby Frieda Klotz
- Has justice really been done for Phoebe Prince?
- Dublin, then & now
- Patti Smith, Ireland and the Catholic Church
- Ireland's war on women
- Haiti puts Ireland's troubles in perspective
You wouldn’t expect a country like Ireland to be accused of breaching human rights. Our little green nation is best known for its rich culture and friendly customs. We’ve never invaded another country or annoyed anyone too much.
But on Thursday the respected international advocacy group Human Rights Watch published a report saying Ireland deprives many of its citizens of their basic entitlements.
The report is called “A State of Isolation.” It tells how the government blocks the way of women who look for information on abortion or seek care abroad.
It's only Wednesday but this is already an astonishing week. Ted Kennedy's death has proved the Republicans' gain. Scott Brown will stand in the way of the healthcare legislation Kennedy himself fought for and desired. In Haiti, meanwhile, a great crisis plays out that puts our concerns in the US or Ireland in shadow. The death of Irishman Andrew Grene brings the tragedy even closer to home.
Monday was Martin Luther King day and I went to a tribute to King at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Gospel singers sang their hearts out. There was talk of problems and progress, and (muted) praise of Obama. But mostly people spoke of Haiti. Brooklyn has the largest diaspora population of Haitians in the world. The actor Danny Glover -- of "Lethal Weapon" and "The Color Purple" fame -- was keynote speaker, and he wondered what MLK would think if he were alive today (he would be 81). Glover's voice cracked, as he said King would ask why Haiti was so badly treated by history.
Like Haiti, Ireland has a closely-bound diaspora community. We've all known that unnerving feeling when it seems every Irish person is somehow connected to us, or to someone that we know. When I read the obituary of Andrew Grene I realized I had taken a class on Shakespeare with his half-brother, professor Nick Grene at Trinity College Dublin. But the Grene name was doubly familiar: I had also read translations by his father, a respected academic at Chicago University, unaware till now that the two Grenes were related.
And no, it's not her politics.
Sarah Palin is a love-to-hate figure, a woman of absolutes and contradictions. The glowing skin, the perfectly made-up face, the sexy spectacles combined with political power -- as a working mother of five, she's a modern woman who does it all. With only a few cracks on the surface to show for it.
Women heading towards 60 do not usually have affairs with teenage boys. That's one of the things that makes the Robinson scandal so mesmerizing -- that, and the fact, of course, that the trio of money, religion and politics are involved. But turn the story on its head: A politically powerful woman chooses to go against convention and follow her own desires. Amidst all the sleaze, could we take something positive from it?
Out of all the newspaper reports I read on the subject, just one touched on this aspect of the story. In her analysis of the Robinson family's turmoil, the Sunday Tribune's Northern Ireland reporter Suzanne Breen noted, "from a feminist perspective, perhaps Robinson's affair with her toyboy is to be savoured. How many aging men enjoy young sexy girlfriends without anyone batting an eyelid? And as a woman of pensionable age, her libido is surely to be celebrated."
She went on to point out several problems with such an interpretation: the creepy fact, for instance, that Mrs. Robinson had known her lover since he was nine years old.