Is it irony to say that it is ironic how often the word irony is misused?
I help out manning information tables for Atheist Ireland when I can. They are starting to become a regular monthly feature in our bigger cities. The one in Dublin has been operational for three years without a break. While there is competition for prime locations, we have managed to keep our own regular spot on the capital’s main thoroughfare.
Recently a Palestine solidarity group set up a table to our left but we asked them to move as they were too close. At the start there was enough space between us to ensure passer-by’s were aware that we were different campaigns..
Maybe it was ironic that an ex-Muslim in our group noticed that they were moving their table closer to us every so often. This was because they were too near to the evangelical Africans on the other side of their table. We joked about the irony of them encroaching into our land when we had been so accommodating to them at the start.
One of their group engaged me in conversation and it is was immediately clear that he was naively clueless on the subject which was ironic for someone so passionate and vocal. It is not a black and white subject. From reading some of their leaflets it became clear that much of it was immature anti-American – anti-Israeli rhetoric and very little of it was constructive or pro-Palestinian. I considered telling him that I found the murder of the Italian activist Arrigoni to be ironic but as he was telling me he was a supporter of Hamas I decided to end the conversation.
My parting words to him were that he should trying talking to the Muslim activists at the table to our right as I suspected they were probably also Hamas supporters. He did not seem too keen on this and I found it ironic that a Hamas supporter would want to engage with atheists more so than with Muslims.
Later I had an informative conversation with one of the Muslims activists. He might have found it ironic to be talking to an atheist who whose national executive was representing the interests of Irish Muslims as well as Christian Evangelical groups at the UNHRC in Geneva to ensure Freedom of Religion and from Religion for all Irish citizens. He was surprised to see I had the words “I am Raif Badawi” tattooed on my arm in Arabic but calling that ironic is probably a misuse of the word. Still he smiled with me as did the ex-Muslim atheist standing on my other side.
I went into the local coffee shop. In the queue there was me, the Atheist (I swear to god I really am), an Evangelical Nigerian and a Muslim. We all smiled to each other as we were forced to listen to the Catholic at the top of the queue inform everyone that he was going to do something to prevent the groups outside on the street from destroying Catholic Ireland.
The irony is that such a nation no longer exists. The Muslims, Atheists and Evangelicals all understood that. As we stood at our individual tables sipping our coffees I noticed we were still all smiling even if we had the chorus of that song as a backing track to the thoughts in our heads. You know the one, the one that you too have just been singing to yourself.