More point/counter-point on Northern Ireland [part II]

Elizabeth Platt ([email protected])
Sat, 1 Aug 1998 17:22:13 -0700 (PDT)

Part II of this epic post...and my cc to Karine of Part I just bounced
sky-high, which makes me guilty of arguing with someone who isn't even
here! :(

Anyways...on to Part II:


> >> Apparently, U2 don't consider Trimble like you. And they can have
> >> their own opinion. And i think they're less one-sided than you....
> >
> >How so? Maybe they're just less well-informed.
> You really think this ???? BTW, to be well-informed DOESN'T mean AT
> ALL best understanding.

This can be true in some cases--I've met some very stupid political
science grad students!--but on the other hand, I feel that a genuine
"understanding" of any situation requires being well-informed about the
issue! As an example, take a look at two prominent "Irish intellectuals",
Conor Cruise O'Brien and Ruth Dudley Edwards. On the surface, they like
to sell themselves as some sort of liberal, intellectual historians and
writers, and someone like myself would be excoriated (by someone like
you?) for not embracing their ideology as worthy or even _better_ than
that espoused by someone like, say, Gerry Adams. But "The Cruiser" is a
proponent of media censorship (author of Section 31, the anti-republican
media censorship in Ireland), and (to make a very long, weird story a bit
shorter) is now an elected member of the UK Unionist Party, which has
aligned itself with Ian Paisley in opposition to the Good Friday
Agreement. Most recently, O'Brien was writing in the Dublin Sunday
Independent about how much he admired Ian Paisley! (O'Brien has also
claimed, in private conversation, that Catholic Irish women carry a
recessive "killer gene" that they pass on to their male offspring...and
that this is the main cause of the conflict in the North!) He and Dudley
Edwards are both eager proponents of reintroducing internment against
Republicans, provided, of course, that internment is done on _both_ sides
of the border this time. They have no problem with arresting political
opponents and detaining them without charge or trail; just be sure to be
more *efficient* about it, that's all! :P

Lovely folks--and if I'm "one-sided" because I won't tolerate or accept
their reactionary politics, so be it!

> >Maybe they've bought the
> >pro-government media spin wholesale. They're not exactly political
> >science majors, you know. I'd bet a month's rent that no one in the U2
> >camp knows fuckall about Trimbles' connections to various hard-line
> >loyalist groups, sectarian groups, etc.
> You're not cautious ;-) Have you already read Edge talking about NI ?

Yep. And so what? I recall Bono (was it?) saying at one point that all
they knew about the North was what they read in the papers. To which I
said: Yikes! =:|

> >Trimble gets lionized in the
> >southern Irish media as some sort of an intellectual, a "moderate",
> >and so on.
> Maybe he changed his mind ? Why not ? I've read in my papers old
> activists (catholics and protestants) changed their mind about the use of
> violence to solve the conflict. And they're now against all violence. And
> you can't say he's less extremist than Paisley.

Actually, now that I think of it, Trimble is a bit less reactionary than
the likes of O'Brien and Dudley Edwards! ;-) But to gauge from his
position around this year's Drumcree/Garvaghy stand-off, he's still the
same man who marched and then jeered at the Garvaghy residents back in
1995. Where' the necessary risk-taking, the leadership, required at a
time like this? Why wouldn't he talk to his own _constituents_ on the
Garvaghy Road, or their elected representatives? (Trimble is the MP for
Portadown, you know.) If he had done so from the start, maybe we would
have seen less violence this summer, maybe the three Quinn brothers
wouldn't have been killed in Ballymoney? Maybe--this is all conjecture


> >Also, I get the impression that U2 are a _lot_ more biased and one-sided
> >than I am!
> Waou ! It's your impression ! Because they don't support violence,
> you think they're more one-sided than you ????? What a weird mind you have !

It's not a question of supporting (or not supporting) violence--it's a
question of being receptive to hearing opinions or analyses that differ
from yours. Granted, by the time a band gets to the world-beating
rock-star stage of their career, the chance that they'd even bother
meeting with anyone who hasn't been on the cover of, say, _Vogue_ magazine
is pretty damn slim! Never mind someone who is poor and disenfranchised
and lives in the Bogside or Ballymurphy...

> >They seem refuse to even listen to anyone whose opinions
> >differ from theirs,
> ????? Where did you find this ?

The only exception to this seems to apply to some musicians they know,
e.g., Christy Moore, Shane MacGowan, et al, who have fairly strong
nationalist or republican views. But this isn't unusual in Ireland; I
recall meeting a record industry rep once, who had worked with Christy
Moore when the latter was at the most "republican" stage of his career; he
gushed about how _brilliant_ Moore was, then, in the very next breath,
announced that he loathed Sinn Fein and the IRA, and hoped that they would
all be killed or jailed for life! And I've seen Bono, who has also
gushed about Christy Moore, then refer to the Republican Movement as
"fascists". So is Moore a fascist too? Shane? Sinead O'Connor? Me?
And isn't this the kind of thinking and speech that precludes dialogue and
an exchange of ideas?

> >never mind associate with them.
> It's normal if they disagree, don't you think ?

Ah, but if *I* disagree with anyone, then I'm the narrow-minded, one-sided
bitch, huh? Or are rich and famous people excluded from this sort of
thing? How does this work? :P

> >They've shunned the
> >North for over 10 years;
> For shows. Do you really think it was because of politic/violence ?
> And do you know something about their private life ?

What does their private life have to do with this? I know more about
their private lives than they'd probably want me to know, anyways! ;-)
And yes, I do think politics played a part in their refusing to play in
the North. A shortage of suitable venues no doubt also played a role, but
why not play in the Botanic Gardens before 1997?

> >So how then are Sinn Fein "extremist" in your estimation? They've been
> >proponents of unconditional talks and open political dialogue for years
> >now. And if you favor talks over violence, why do you insist on attacking
> >people like me as "wrong" and "one-sided" and "extremist", when this is
> >the sort of thing that makes dialogue impossible? And when I've been a
> >proponent of dialogue and nonviolence for years? Is our _objective_
> >what's really at issue here?
> I think Sinn Fein are extremist because they still support IRA.

And why shoulnd't they? The IRA supports Sinn Fein, and have also
supported the drive towards an unarmed (nonviolent) resolution to the
conflict. You're forgetting that the IRA have supported the peace process
all along, and have played a key role in making it work. So why shouldn't
some of us continue to support the IRA?

> But
> i've never said you're extremist, i said you support extremists because if
> you support Sinn fein, you support indirectly IRA. BTW, maybe you're more
> opened-mind than i think.

Maybe. ;-)

> I just think not because you attacked U2 for non
> supporting Sinn Fein and because you don't seem to see Trimble is less
> extremist than Paisley. You know, every side have made mistakes before,
> every side has supported violence before, even Sinn Fein. Just a few people
> has had the courage to say no to violence for many years. If you agree with
> me about this, i'll can think you're not as wrong as you seem to be
> according to your messages.

I didn't "attack" U2 for not supporting the IRM, but I do think they're
open to criticism, both for their habit of demonizing republicans and for
the exclusionary nature of the Waterfront Hall concert. If this whole
"peace process" is going to work, all of us need to find new ways of doing
things--and it's not just the "extremists" who need to do this!

As for those who said "no" to violence--were they _really_ opposed to all
violence, or just republican violence? Did they speak out about state
violence? Did they look at the cause of violence, or did they just
condemn the symptoms? Let's face it, peaceniks and pseudo-pacifists are a
dime a dozen in Ireland. They've probably done more to set back the cause
of a genuinely revolutionary form of nonviolence than anything done or
said by "extremists".

> >As for your last remark, I'm a bit unclear; are you saying the IRA's
> >leadership imposed the cease-fire on the rank and file? If so, you're in
> >error here--that's not how things are done in that organization. There's
> >no way a top-down imposition would be tolerated, and no way any
> >organization would be able to maintain a disciplined cease-fire for so
> >long with minimum disruptions, without the solid backing of the rank and
> >file.
> Sorry, it's you who's in error. In the first (and only in this case)
> cease-fire (which was broken after) everybody knew IRA leaders imposed it to
> their base. And it was pointed out because it never was the case before. We
> know here IRA is used to be more democratic than that. And it's why it was
> pointed out. If you let me a little time, i'll translate the article i've
> read about this.

I'd be interested in seeing the article, or at least knowing the author
and source. But, sorry, I've got my own sources of info, from within the
IRM itself, and I still stand by my original comments. The IRA's Army
Council did not impose the cease-fire on the organization. It just
doesn't work this way! And I'm a bit confused by your "first...and only
in this case" remark--there actually has only one IRA cessation; when it
was _renewed_ in 1997, it was regarded as a continuation of the 1994
cessation. Anyways, after the cease-fire was called in 1994, the British
government began a very slick disinformation campaign, designed to sow
dissent within the broader Republican movement, and most of the tales of
the "IRA leadership" forcing a cease-fire on the rank and file came out of
that disinformation effort. It's fiction, designed to create distrust and
discord; it was pretty obvious to most observers that the Tory government
hoped that the IRM's willingness to work within the peace process, and the
IRA's willngness to call a cease-fire, would cause a split in the ranks.
The media was full of lurid tales of imminent splits, predictions that
Gerry Adams would be shot dead, blahblahblah. Wishful thinking on the
part of the Tories doesn't make it a fact!


> >Yes, I _do_ understand this conflict more than U2--and if anyone in the
> >band and/or Principle Management want to debate me on the issue, well, my
> >email address is on this post! :)
> Easy to say this when you know they surely don't want to lost their
> time with you. Sorry to be hard with you but your quote prove you refuse to
> try to understand other points of view than yours. And it's this fact i condemn.

Let's see if I have this straight--you say that U2 aren't hostile to
Republicans, then turn around and say that they surely woulnd't want to
waste their time with someone like me? Wow. And before you go off and
attack me again for being close-minded, do not that I *did* offer to
debate them on the issue, not lecture them... ;-)

Oh, and nice to see that you're the person who decides who the band will
and won't waste their time on...especially when you direct this against a
person who's been a fan for over 17 years now. Should I assume that you
think the band should only associate with yes-men and celebrities and
various superdupermodels, rather than anyone who _dares_ to disagree with

> Sorry, but from what I've read
> >>from Edge, Bono, etc., about the situation (never mind the Republican
> >Movement) they don't know their arse from their elbow.
> Apparently you miss some articles. OK, i know what i have to do now.

She's going to smack my knees with breeze blocks! =:( Oy, it always
comes down to this, doesn't it? OK, I'm just joking...I've seen a lot of
articles/interviews over the years and haven't been greatly impressed. If
you've got something you think will turn my head around, go ahead and send
it on to me (and yes, I've read some articles/interviews in French
magazines; I had to peek at my dictionary, but I could read them well

> >They probably understand U2's position better than U2 themselves! ;-)
> >In fact, I would dare say that the Republican position is closer to the
> >wishes expressed in "Please" than most people would think. Despite the
> >breakdown of the peace process (courtesy of the Tory/UUP alliance, with
> >the assistance of Fine Gael)
> Please, enlighten me about this. Fine Gael support to break down
> peace ????

Let's just say that Fine Gael weren't exactly "on board" the peace effort,
OK? They're a very right-wing and anti-Republican party, with roots in
the fascist movement of the 1930s, so no big surprise there. During their
mercifully brief stint in office, they did nothing to put pressure on the
Tory government to stop obstructing the peace process. (Of course, they
share the blame with the Democratic Left and Labour, who were in coalition
with Fine Gael at the time.) Both FG and the DemLeft are sympathetic to
Unionism and hostile to Republicanism, so what else to expect?

> >True--Republicans have been quite solid behind the peace process. But so
> >were the SDLPers--this whole "process" is their cup of tea! So why then
> >invite the SDLP? ;-) No, I still think that all of the parties to the
> >talks should have been part of it. Exclusion has been the bane of
> >Northern Irish politics since Partition, and has only served to perpetuate
> >divisions.
> Maybe they thought there were undecided people in SDLP ?

Are you kidding? If Satan ran on the SDLP ticket, he'd get elected! :D

> >*And* I think the tickets to the bloody concert should have been made
> >available to the general public--none of this hand-picked, "teacher's pet"
> >bullshit, OK? >:|
> Maybe the organizers wanted this show only for this part of the
> population ? BTW, i don't like to mix music and politic IN THIS WAY.

Naw, I still think the tickets should have been up for grabs to anyone who
could get to 'em! If they wanted to restrict the audience to people of a
certain age, all they had to do was make a would-be buyers produce a valid
ID showing their birthdate! I know that they wanted to restrict the
audience to first-time voters and all that, but I still see way too much
of the control-freak aspect of Northern Ireland "moderate" politics at
play here. Anything that can't be controlled or contained is considered a
threat until proven otherwise, etc.

I mean, correct me if I'm wrong here, but the concert wasn't broadcast on
TV or radio, was it? (I'd figure that if it was, I'd have heard of the
bootlegs by now!) If not, why not? After all, here is a "star-studded"
event taking place in support of a supposedly historic election, and,
what, it can't get shown on BBC-NI or UTV? On the radio? Was it purely a
logistical or budgetary issue? Anyways, contrast this to the concert at
this month's West Belfast Festival (if memory serves, Mary Black and
Shane MacGowan are playing--assuming Shane shows up, that is--and talk
about a study in contrasts!), which is a good example of grass-roots,
community-based arts organizing.


Elizabeth Platt
[email protected]

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