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For the love of God, please stop sharing Sinéad O'Connor's tweets about white people

Sharing clickbait about Sinéad O’Connor while pretending to care about mental health is hypocritical.

Camp Bestival 2014 - Dorset Source: David Jensen

OVER THE COURSE of Sinéad O’Connor’s career, the 51-year-old singer has garnered a lot of attention by making bold and controversial statements. 

In recent years, as scandals have unraveled in Ireland, many people have come to regard her SNL performance where she tore a photograph of Pope John Paul II to shreds on live television as an incredible act of courage. The best part of three decades has passed since Sinéad shocked the world with this audacious act, but there are still many people who believe that what Sinéad did that night was unforgivably offensive. 

Showbiz/Album, Sinead O'Connor Source: PA Archive/PA Images

In the years following this incident, O’Connor raised eyebrows on many other occasions, like in 2000 when she declared that she was “a dyke” and “a big lesbian mule” in an interview with Curve magazine, before later backtracking and telling The Independent that she was “overcompensating”.

It was not a publicity stunt. I was trying to make someone else feel better and have subsequently caused pain for myself. I am not in a box of any description. 

In the mid 2000s, O’Connor appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where she disclosed that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had made attempts on her life. In 2014, she appeared on Oprah’s “Where Are They Now?” show and said that she had spoken to three other doctors for a second opinion. Sinéad told Oprah that all three of these doctors informed her that she did not actually have bipolar disorder. 

Sinéad has always been comfortable discussing her mental health publicly.

Following a hysterectomy in 2015, Sinéad revealed that she was struggling to adjust to the hormonal changes in her body and had been feeling very depressed. That same year, she cancelled all of her summer concerts due to exhaustion. In 2016, the singer made headlines after she was reported missing from her home near Chicago, after police were alerted that there were concerns for her well-being. 

After Sinéad lost custody of her 13-year-old son in 2017, she uploaded a 12-minute-long video to Facebook, tearfully detailing how lonely she felt from the New Jersey Travelodge motel room that she had been living in at the time. She was later hospitalised, and a statement was posted to her Facebook page assuring fans that she was safe and “receiving the best of care”.

At this point, it was fairly well established that Sinéad O’Connor was more vulnerable than ever before. On the 19th of October 2018, O’Connor took to social media to announce that she had converted to Islam and was changing her name to Shuhada Davitt. She’s not the first celebrity to change religion – a few years ago Zooey Deschanel converted to judaism, Julia Roberts converted to Hinduism and in 2001, Jane Fonda converted to Christianity. Who knows how many other celebrities privately changed religion?

The news that Sinéad converted to Islam probably should have gone under the radar, like the news of Julia Roberts, Jane Fonda and Zooey Deschanel’s personal decisions largely  did.

On hearing the news of Sinéad O’Connor’s conversion to Islam, a rational person might think, “Oh, well that’s nice. I’m glad she found somewhere where she feels as though she belongs.”  O’Connor was ordained as a priest towards the end of the 1990s, and has made it publicly known that she has done plenty of research on scripture and theology, so she’s probably qualified enough to make this kind of decision for herself. 

However, because of the current political climate in America and Europe, there are plenty of people and media organisations who are desperate to drum up public panic about Islam. And what’s scarier than the thoughts of a white, middle-aged Irish woman deciding to become a muslim? If that demographic can be lured into converting to Islam, then anyone can. It was easy to sensationalise, so tabloids had a field day.

As a result, Sinéad became a bit of a target and plenty of attention was directed to her Twitter account, where she was bombarded with abuse and suggestions to seek further psychiatric help. The replies to most of her tweets over the past month show that this continued pretty steadily, with countless anonymous Twitter accounts goading her.

Did anyone angrily responding to her tweets sincerely believe that she was going to change her mind because of something a stranger with a football player as their profile picture on Twitter thought? Of course they didn’t. They weren’t concerned for her well-being in the slightest. She just became a new outlet for their Islamophobia. 

Sinéad posted a slightly more shocking tweet last night, when she wrote:

I’m terribly sorry. What I’m about to say is something so racist I never thought my soul could ever feel it. But truly, I never wanna spend time with white people again (if that’s what non-muslims are called). Not for one moment, for any reason. They are disgusting. 

Tabloid editors were probably salivating when they read that tweet. The comment sections under articles on the likes of The Mirror and The Sun were awash with outraged victims of this reverse racism (which isn’t actually racism, as it has absolutely no material repercussions in their everyday lives and doesn’t result in any actual discrimination) from a person who has a long history of saying things that she regretted in the past and later coming back to apologise for them. 

And what were these victims of Sinéad O’Connor’s racism saying? Well, ironically, a lot of them were spouting off about how disgusting and dangerous they believe muslims are (and unlike the “racism” directed towards white, non-muslim people, comments like these are actually racist and Islamophobic because they’re used to justify violence and discrimination towards muslims and non-white people). 

The more that people respond to Sinéad O’Connor’s tweets about Islam with derogatory and abusive comments, the more she’s going to react. The more she reacts, the more people will attack her on social media. This isn’t a very productive cycle, and more importantly, facing abuse online every single day isn’t going to do any favours for Sinéad’s mental health, which commenters claim to be so concerned about. 

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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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