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The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
- Hubert H. Humphrey




Double Standards


Davy Carlin
Andersonstown News, 21/02/2002


A number of letters have appeared in the Irish News over the last several weeks from American readers outraged that some in this part of the world have had the audacity to denounce their government's so-called "war on terror." One even suggested that those protesting against the ongoing slaughter of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, or the US-financed genocide against Palestinians, were hypocritical because they "remain silent" about the sectarian attacks on schoolgirls in North Belfast or the ongoing campaign by loyalist gangs to draw ordinary people back into sectarian war.

In truth, the hypocrisy lies with those unwilling to question American motives. It is doubtful whether one could find a single individual here who has spoken out against the US drive to war that was not also actively involved in building the recent strikes and demonstrations in support of the children and parents of Holy Cross and against the sectarian murder of postal worker Danny McColgan. The real problem lies in the double standards embraced by so many of the so-called "friends of Ireland" in America.

Of course people sympathize with those who died in the Twin Towers on September 11th. But recent press reports confirm that already the casualties among innocent civilians in Afghanistan (estimated at up to 8,000) exceed the number killed in the US on September 11th (just under 3,000 by the most recent estimates). And although most of the media has turned a blind eye, the bombing continues. If you add to that the brutality meted out by an Israeli government armed to the teeth by the US, you get a glimpse of the real terror that Bush and friends have in store. The US Administration, comprised mainly of oil-drenched, right-wing holdovers from the Cold War era has cynically used the tragic events of September 11th to drag the American people into a "war without end." Not for the first time, the American flag is being wrapped around a war aimed, essentially, at punishing the poorest people on earth in the interests of a small minority who plunder its wealth.

There is another aspect of this hypocrisy worth exploring. If, as the Irish news contributors claim, the US is a "beacon of democracy," why has its "crusade" won the enthusiastic support of Margaret Thatcher, who did so much to suppress democracy in this part of the world? Why has the FBI offered the discredited Sir Ronnie Flanagan a paid position as an adviser on counter-terrorism? Why is John Reid on his way to Washington to acquaint members of the Bush Administration with Britain's "success" in combating terrorism in Northern Ireland?

The answer to all this is simple. The "coalition" that the US wants to pull together is a coalition of thieves-in-high-places and war criminals, and in that scenario it makes perfect sense to bring on board the heavy gangs of British imperialism: and the right-wing death squads of Colombia; and the Russian butchers of Chechnya; and the despotic Arab regimes, who differ from the Taliban only in that they have not yet turned on their American
benefactors. Victims of state terror in Ireland rightfully demanded of the British people-deprived by government lies and media censors of an accurate picture of what was being done in their name-that they look beyond official propaganda to find out the truth for themselves. The world should expect no less of ordinary Americans, particularly those who boast of their sympathy with the oppressed.







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