The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Language: The Means of Creating Realities


David Kirk • 28 November 2005

A number of weeks ago, I offered the following submission to the Daily Ireland, in response to the now infamous Fr Reid statements. I selected the Daily Ireland as a vehicle for engaging, honestly with the republican community and as a challenge to the willingness of the Daily Ireland to publish dissent from the “party line”. To be fair they did publish an edited version. Unfortunately that version had been stripped of any reference to unflattering comments by republican commentators and had essentially avoided the central theme concerning the dangerous use of language to inform our reality, a theme that Anthony McIntyre has also touched on. It is in this context that I now turn to “The Blanket” to keep the debate alive.

As someone from the Unionist community, I am not naturally attracted to your publication and am somewhat reticent in offering my opinion here. However, I feel strongly that I should make an effort to respond to a number of your features concerning the Fr Reid controversy. I have little expectation of my contribution being published as it challenges the mindset of the Republican contributors. That doesn't appear to be a common theme in the Daily Ireland. That said, I do hope that you will allow some balance to prevail. I think that some of your readers may be open to entertaining my view point.

The general message that Republican commentators have offered concerning Fr Reid's remarks can be summarised as:

"The use of language was a bit extreme but we know what he means. Whilst Unionist's, (Protestant's), didn't actually gas Catholics in concentration camps, they were certainly on their way down that path."

Some quotes that I lifted from a few of the many similar articles published in this and other nationalist publications:

"McAleese's and Reid's comments represent something visceral which even most nationalists believe." - Danny Morrison

"Many Catholics, however, subliminally believe some aspects of how they, their families and their forebears were treated by unionism bear a resemblance to the way the Nazis treated the Jews." - Anne Cadwallader

"There are parallels between the unionist attitude to nationalists and the Nazi attitude to Jews." - Jude Collins

"Unionist children were taught to never trust a fenian, in the same way that German children were taught to see Jews as devious and scheming." - Jude Collins

Generally these statements have been followed by a list of so called "evidence" to support the proposition. All the old quotes from morons like George Seawright, Lord Brookeborough (are we ever going to hear the end of that one), and, yes Paisley, were wheeled out. Danny Morrison unashamedly offered the existence of paramilitary organisations such as the Third Force and "masked men with cudgels", as further irrefutable evidence of Nazi tendencies. Go figure that one!

I started out with the intention of giving a similar list of odious statements and actions from the nationalist side that those of limited intellect could equally hold up as evidence of Nazi tendencies. On reflection, I believe that would be a waste of time and encourage the typical spiral into "whataboutery".

The serious point that I want to make, is that Republicanism appears to have constructed an image of Protestants as a detestable people. Language is the means by which we create our own realities. The language used by public figures such as Fr Reid will inform a reality for young nationalists which they will hold closely. That reality will be copper-fastened by the support offered by Danny Morrison and others.

The irony of course, is that they are displaying the very mindset that they attribute to Protestants. They are demonising a whole community, today, based on wrongs, perceived or otherwise, from a previous generation.

I will not accept being demonised. I will not hang my head in shame as Fr Reid suggests. I will not accept responsibility for other people's actions in the past, be it the Unionists Rulers in Stormont, Cromwell, or any one else. I will, however, take full responsibility for my own actions.

My father's side of the family came from Donegal. They left in the twenties after a boycott of their small store called by the local Priest. It was a time when people were encouraged to look after "their own", and there were good Catholic owned shops to get your provisions from. Too bad! That was a long time ago. Should I now have a hatred of Catholics based on that? No is obviously the answer. I wasn't even born. Contrary to Anne Cadwallader's assertion, I was taught to take people as you find them and not to pre-judge. At no time was I, or anyone that I know, taught to mistrust or hate Catholics.

My mother's side was Maguire, of ancient Irish Catholic stock. That must create a dilemma. What half of me do you think is the closet Nazi and what half is "the oppressed"? I guess Gerry Adams must have a similar dilemma, assuming the name Adams has an Anglo Saxon background.

I am not writing this article to point score. I am asking people to seriously consider their own realities and what language has constructed them. It is very disheartening that people who don't even know me or mine should construct an image worthy of hatred. However, I will not be provoked by that and will remain true to my own values. I suspect that those holding those realities will ultimately be the ones that suffer. That is regrettable and will do little to unite the people on this island.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
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Index: Current Articles

24 December 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

A Perfect Spy
Tom Luby

Anthony McIntyre

Spies and Lies in 2005
Eamon Sweeney

Defeating the Enemy Within
Mick Hall

SF Tinker, Tailor Their Spy Story
David Adams

Language: The Means of Creating Realities
David Kirk

Mebyon Kernow & Cornish Nationalism
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Timetable for Change
Dr John Coulter

CRJ — New Name for the IRA?
Anthony McIntyre

GEM, A Story of Global Exploitation and Misery
Morten Alme

First International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and POWs
Irish Freedom Committee

Brian Campbell: A Captivating Voice
Anthony McIntyre

25 November 2005

Political Policing
Willie Gallagher

One Sweet Deal for Some, but for The Rest of Us?...
Mick Hall

Who's In Charge Around Here, Anyway?
Eamonn McCann

Playing the Game
Anthony McIntyre

Dr John Coulter

RSF Presidential Address 2005
Ruairi O Bradaigh

To Go On: Irish Travellers meet Academia
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Genius decommissioned while Stupid keeps the guns
Tomas Gorman

Cut Off Aid to Regime in Uganda
David Adams

Sticks and Stones
Anthony McIntyre



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