AlterNet, that online bastion of American left-wing liberalism and anti-establishment rhetoric, has an opinion piece on the attendance of Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, Joint First Minister in Belfast’s power-sharing regional administration, at the ceremony in London welcoming the Irish president Michael D. Higgins on his state visit to Britain. At least that was the main event that happened some weeks ago though you wouldn’t believe it reading the AlterNet piece where President Higgins isn’t even mentioned. In fact one strongly suspects that the author of the article is completely unaware of the reason for the meet-and-greet at Windsor Castle, the first official visit by a President of Ireland to our nearest neighbour, an event filled with historical significance for both nations. Instead we are regaled with a long and frankly incoherent diatribe against the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army and its thirty-year armed opposition to the continued British colonial presence in Ireland. In the article the titles of the main parties to the conflict are confused, individuals as misnamed, history and geography is clearly misunderstood, and everything is reduced to an absurd synopsis of the conflict that owes more to the pages of Britain’s tabloid press than any significant knowledge on the part of the writer. If it weren’t for the fact that the piece is little more than crude pro-British, anti-Irish propaganda it could be dismissed out of hand. Unfortunately propaganda is exactly what it is, which raises the question: why is it that so many on the American Left are so enamoured of all things British (for which one should read, English) that when it comes to Britain’s history in Ireland the truth must be well and truly buried?
This is just one of several articles hostile to Irish Republicanism to be featured by supposedly liberal US publications (online and offline) in recent months. Perhaps the most notable have stemmed from interviews with Anglophile author Paul Theroux where his twisted schadenfreude over the marathon-day bombings in the “Irish-American” city of Boston were given free (and unquestioning) rein. So what is up with Liberals in the United States? Why have intellectuals, writers, journalists and artists consistently fallen for Britain’s “Dirty War” propaganda? Does their love of all things British, their Harry Potteresque passion for Hollywood Englishness make them more susceptible to the myths of the noble British battling for civilization against the savage Irish than other nationalities? Watching television dramas from the United States the portrayals of Irish characters frequently go far beyond stereotype and into outright racism. The infamous “Sons of Anarchy” and its grotesque Irish storylines would be unthinkable if the people being supposedly shown were African-American or Jewish-American. Yet the Irish are fair game. The recent Amazon Sci-Fi pilot, “The After“, helmed by Chris Carter, featured an Irish character who could have stepped straight out of the pages of a KKK pamphlet, circa 1915. A violent, incoherent, foul-mouthed drunk with an obvious intent to rape the nearest female in sight he might as well have worn a tee-shirt asking: “Where’s all the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant women at?”.
So I ask again. American Liberals, why do so many of you act as apologists for Britain’s record of war and injustice in Ireland? Why do you knowingly regurgitate tired old clichés about that centuries-old conflict, clichés taken from the worse excesses of British popular culture? And AlterNet, why are you blocking my Comments from appearing under the article on your website? For the record here is what I wrote in reply to the contentious opinion piece:
“Who exactly were the “Royal Irish (Protestant) Constabulary”? Does the author mean the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the British paramilitary police force in the north-east of Ireland made notorious for its ninety-year record of violence, terrorism, sectarianism and racism until it was disbanded as part of the Irish-British peace process of the 1990s? Or perhaps he means the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), the British Army militia unit also disbanded as part of the peace process due to its less than enviable record of murder and mayhem? Soldiers by day, gunmen by night. No? Perhaps he has in mind the various British terror factions in Ireland, from the UVF to the RHC? Given that they contained large numbers of serving or former members of the British Forces it is easy to understand the confusion. Not to mention the fact that they were substantially organised, trained, financed, armed and directed by the British state, from intelligence services to government officials (with lots of lovely AK47s supplied by the Apartheid regime in South Africa, right-wing Protestant fundamentalists in Canada and the United States, Neo-Nazis groups in Britain, as well as weapons, ahem, “borrowed” from British Army stores).
How about the UDA-UFF? The largest and most active British terrorist group in Ireland, responsible for hundreds of gun and bomb attacks over the course of two decades? Of course the UDA-UFF was uniquely the only LEGAL terrorist organisation in the whole of Western Europe since Britain refused to ban it until, yes, that’s right, the peace process of the 1990s. Imagine, you could be a terrorist and wear a tee-shirt proclaiming it to the world. Cool! (Just ask Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair who greatly enjoyed his dinner parties with the head of British military intelligence after a hard day of shooting Irish men, women and children)
But then all these masked defenders of the Pax Britannia were part of Britain’s counter-insurgency war against the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army. Of course they started “defending” the last remnant of Britain’s colony in Ireland way back in 1966 when they murdered a grandmother and two teenage boys, one fire-bombed in her home the others gunned down in the streets. The (Provisional) Irish Republican Army didn’t come into existence until four years later but SHUSH, don’t ruin the British propaganda narrative with some Irish historical truth…”