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Unintended irony in PM’s recent appeal


FR. LESLIE LETT

Unintended irony in PM’s recent appeal

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IT WAS PAINFUL to hear Mr Ronald Toppin play down the importance of literature in secondary school education and then to go on to ask “who cares” about the study of Shakespeare.

I couldn’t help but think of Cassio’s words in Othello (Act II scene III ) “O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains….”

Unfortunately the answer is that not many really care. And we are all the poorer for it.

If Mr Toppin had cared about Shakespeare he would’ve seen a good example of an unintended irony in the Prime Minister’s recent appeal for us not to be prophets of doom and gloom, but to be patient (with his economic policies), by quoting Iago’s poetic appeal to Roderigo to be patient with him, even after he had just fleeced him good and proper:

How poor are they that have not patience!

What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

Thou know’st we work by wit and not by witchcraft,

And wit depends on dilatory time – ( Othello, Act IIScene III)

The Opposition, seemingly having happily dumped Shakespeare, could not even begin to query whether Iago had become the hermeneutical key to a correct understanding of Government economic policy!

Through Iago, who is described as the most villainous of Shakespeare’s villains and who is also described as “pragmatic” in the promotion of his “self interest”, Shakespeare helps us to understand that being pragmatic becomes either a virtue or a vice depending on the philosophy that underpins it.

A Prime Minister could be pragmatic in the application of the philosophy of self- interest, or in the application of the objectivist capitalist philosophy of an Ayn Rand, or in the application of the philosophy of social democracy, or in the application of no discernible philosophy or ideology. It might therefore not be enough just to state that a PM is pragmatic.

All of our Prime Ministers have been. However they are clearly not all in the same boat.

– FR. LESLIE LETT

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