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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Dogs and Lampposts

God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters - H.L. Mencken

Anthony McIntyre

A dangerous religious fundamentalist visited Ireland last week. He is President of the USA rather than Iran. In his Christian tolerance he proclaimed benignly that he could understand if Irish people disagreed with his policies in Iraq: ‘People don't like war. But what they should be angry about is that there is a brutal dictator there who destroyed lives and put them in mass graves and had torture rooms.’ Seems like Henry Kissinger applied for Iraqi citizenship.

The visiting fundamentalist also enlightened his hosts on his spirituality:

My relationship with God is a very personal relationship, and I turn to the good Lord for strength, and I turn to the good Lord for guidance, and I turn to the good Lord for forgiveness. But the God I know is one that promotes peace and freedom.

In his spare time the same God also promotes Texas oil billionaires. As they say, you know God is on your side when he hates the same people you do.

One would imagine that plagued with soul savers as we are in Ireland, North and South, the only good argument for immigration control - keeping religious maniacs out - could have been made more forcefully in the run-up to the Bush visit. One would also imagine that the leader of the fastest growing ‘left’ party in Ireland would have been most vocal in protesting the same visit. The lesson is don’t imagine; it will leave you flabbergasted.

Last year, just days prior to the US invasion of Iraq, I was disappointed but not surprised to find the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, emphasize the point on Ulster Television that he would not describe George Bush as a war monger. Around the same time there was a large 'stop the war' march through Belfast city centre culminating in a demonstration in front of the City Hall. Although Adams could be seen in the crowd, the post march witticism was that his press aide, Richard McAuley, had rushed off to the US Consulate to reassure Barbara Stephenson that 'Gerry is dispersing them now, boss.'

The politics of the peace process relentlessly cultivates its own situational logic against which Adams, even if he wished, could only piss into the wind. It ordains that he may do so much and no more in order to maintain the pretence of radicalism considered useful for duping grassroots support. Whatever he may feel personally about the US war on Iraq, the peace process leaves him little political choice. As president of Sinn Fein and the main contact point for the extremist and warlike US administration he will most definitely not stray too far from establishment opinion. His position is hardly far removed from that of the Dublin political class; an octave or two shriller when voicing reservations but nowhere near as outspoken as other more principled figures in Irish political life.

David Begg, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said Bush was a "menace" who had done ‘untold damage, both to the American people and to the world … we cannot accord to him the welcome that would normally be due to the leader of a country with which we have a close affinity.’ Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party asked ‘how can the red carpet be rolled out for a leader who launched a criminal and illegal invasion in which thousands of children, women and men died or were maimed?’ Trevor Sargent of the Green Party drew up a symbolic arrest warrant for Bush. Mary O'Rourke, leader of the Irish senate, said she had turned down the US embassy dinner to mark Mr Bush's visit: ‘I have no animosity for the US but I have animosity for the president who pushed through the war policy in the absence of a UN mandate.’ More than 170 Irish lawyers signed a petition against the visit. One, Fergal Kavanagh, who was defence counsel for a Rwandan government minister accused of war crimes at the UN tribunal, suggested Bush should be detained by Gardai if they were satisfied that he had knowledge of the torture of prisoners in Iraq. Elected representatives from the Republic belonging to Mr Adams’ own party added their voice. Sinn Féin's spokesperson on international affairs, Aengus O Snodaigh, called for a mass protest against the Bush visit. And newly elected Sinn Fein MEP, Mary Lou McDonald claimed that the war on Iraq was without justification, illegal and based on a tissue of lies. ‘The ongoing brutal occupation of the country is wrong and must end.’

Adams, for his part, said that he ‘won't be protesting – but I think it is quite legitimate to protest.’

Which merely means that protesting for the war or against it could be equally legitimate positions to take. What it amounts to is that when a poor country is being subject to invasion by a rich one a supposedly radical Irish political leader refuses to protest against the visit to Ireland by the commander in chief of the occupying force. By way of mitigation he claims that when he broke the picket line last May to meet Bush at Hillsborough he argued against the US policy on Iraq:

‘We engaged for five or 10 minutes but he defended their position in a forthright way and I, of course, argued why I thought that was the wrong way to go.’

Sir Peter Stothard, the former editor of the Times who attended the meeting and subsequently wrote a book referring to it, strangely never mentioned this encounter. This resonates strongly of the Adams claim to have participated in the Burntollet march, which Dolours Price who marched from start to finish disputes most strongly. Likewise with his claim to have attended an emergency meeting of NICRA on the 13th of August 1969. NICRA press officer Kevin Boyle, who attended the meeting, has ‘no memory’ of Adams’ being at it.

Confused, forgetful or a fraudulent radical, Adams’ claim that Bush is good on the peace process hardly matters when a different type of peace rains down from the skies on Iraqi civilians. A peace process that can emasculate the voices of political leaders - who would normally seek to pass themselves off as radical - and which values personal ambition over global justice, should be viewed as a dog would a lamppost.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

5 July 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Can You Hear Ho Chi Minh Laughing?
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia
David Adams

On Whose Side: Stakeknife
Mick Hall

Dogs and Lampposts
Anthony McIntyre

Towards a Republican Agenda for Scotland
Seamus Reader

30 June 2004

Flying the Flag
Dolours Price

The Police Process
Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA Prisoner Left "High and Dry"
Sean Mc Aughey

James Connolly and the Reconquest of Ireland
Liam O Ruairc

Venezuela 2004: Nicaragua's Contra War Revisited
Toni Solo


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