Saturday, June 30, 2012

Give Ireland Back to the English

In a recent BBC interview, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Féin, once again used the word "colonialism", referring to the British presence in Northern Ireland. This is the same tired old word that has fueled five hundred years of Anglo-Irish conflict. As an Irish-American Catholic, the word hasn't made much sense since at least 1949 when the Republic of Ireland was established. The majority of people in Northern Ireland were loyal to the crown, Protestant, and considered themselves distinct from the people living in the Republic, even if some of their families had been living in the six counties of the North for centuries.

The British, who haven't emerged from the "Troubles" spotless, are unfairly represented as the villains in this melodrama. The real baddies are the terrorists of the IRA, one of whom, Martin McGuiness, shook hands with the Queen this week. Considering that the Queen's own cousin, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered along with his 14-year-old grandson, when the IRA blew up his boat in 1979, it must've been galling for the old girl to do it. When the IRA took responsibility for the bombing of Mountbatten's boat, they issued this typically crass statement: "This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country."

Occupation by whom? The British Army? They were only there to keep the Protestants and Catholics from butchering one another, which they would certainly have done. The Loyalist Protestants? By now, they're "more Irish than the Irish themselves" as historians now refer to the 12th century Norman invaders of Ireland.*

Doubtless the IRA believes, with Clausewitz, that "War is a mere continuation of politics by other means." The politics of Sinn Féin, the political branch of the IRA, are avowedly Marxist/Leninist - i.e. revolutionary. It may have been politically expedient for then-President Bill Clinton to welcome terrorist-spokesman Gerry Adams with open arms to the White House in the '90s, but I considered it an outrage. Just as the Queen's handshake with reformed murderer Martin McGuiness is a symbol of the rapprochment of both sides, now the IRA has promised to abandon murder as a political tool. But even with her old ears, the Queen must've heard the whirring noise, as she placed her hand in McGuinness', of her dead cousin spinning in his grave like a lathe.

*All the Irish names that begin with "Fitz" are examples of the "Gaelization" of the Normans. Fitz is a corruption of the French word fis, which means "son". Illegitimate Norman children were often named "Son of" the Norman in question. Hence, Fitzsimmon, Fitzgerald, etc.

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