17.04.20, Response: Flechner and Meeder to O'Hara on Flechner and Meeder, eds., The Irish in Early Medieval Europe: Identity, Culture and Religion (TMR 17.03.08)

Main Article Content

Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder

The Medieval Review 17.04.20

Flechner, Roy and Sven Meeder. Flechner, Roy and Sven Meeder: Response to TMR 17.03.08, Alexander O'Hara's review of Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder, eds., The Irish in Early Medieval Europe: Identity, Culture and Religion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.. pp. .
Reviewed by:
Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder
University College Dublin and Radbound University
roy.flechner@ucd.ie and s.meeder@let.ru.nl

Alexander O'Hara's review of our edited volume is scathing beyond reprieve. It is one of those unforgiving reviews that one must either embrace in its totality and damn the book's editors, or reject in its entirety and damn the reviewer. As pluralists we uphold the right of a reviewer to express his or her opinion and to criticise freely, even if we fundamentally disagree with the interpretation. Indeed, it is this very principle of pluralism and openness to a multitude of views which guided us in editing the contributions to the volume -- although the reviewer clearly believes that we tyrannically imposed a misguided revisionist agenda while bending the facts in an unsophisticated conspiracy to produce 'fake news'.

Despite our recognition of the reviewer's prerogative to interpret and criticise, we draw the line at libellous slander. In his review O'Hara accuses us of racism, no less. Here is what he says: "Indeed, running throughout Meeder's and Flechner's chapter is subtly disguised racism masquerading as historical objectivity which can be detected in such remarks as 'hard to swallow for some proud Irishmen', 'we meet another proud Irishman' (205), the aforementioned 'Whether originality, when it is present, can be directly linked to a scholar's Irish heritage is a matter of contention' (240), and in their attempt at every opportunity to minimize the distinctiveness of Irish influence on the Continent."

How these examples of the use of a narrative voice and a probing statement can be misconstrued as racism is beyond the understanding of the proverbial reasonable person, such as we consider ourselves to be. We invite O'Hara to publicly retract this fallacy so that we can move forward towards having a fruitful academic debate, free of the clutter of personal animus.

As for TMR, we are disappointed and puzzled that the editors allowed the nonsensical and hurtful accusation of racism to be published without a basic check of its merits. We urge the editorial board to observe greater care when deciding to publish reviews sporting such accusations of inexcusable (and, in most countries, criminal) behaviour. We invite TMR's readership to convey to the editors that they hold TMR to a higher standard.

Article Details