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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
ONE of the many fun aspects to following the US presidential election is the varied loo-lah groups who have to be pandered to by the respective candidates.
No matter what their private opinions, both have to tip-toe around issues like gun control, they have to make sure to mention God as frequently as possible, they have to not laugh in the face of ‘educators’ who want to teach creationism to ten-year olds. They have to wear their Serious Faces when they engage in debates about what the New Testament says about the budget deficit or that Europe is a socialist hellhole or that America really has the divine right to tell the rest of the planet what to do.
From this side of the Atlantic, such silliness would be purely comical were it not for the fact that such opinions are held by large swathes of the American population. It’s fun to sneer at the dumb hicks, of course, but it also points up how history doesn’t travel in a straight line. The European Enlightenment may have laid the course for the foundation of the modern nation-state, but there’s just as many people around the world for whom it never happened. Ancient and modern ideas rub up against each other all the time: and because of the idea of free speech, everything has to be treated with parity of esteem.
Last weekend, in what most newspapers called a ‘show of strength’, the Real IRA laid on a paramilitary funeral for Alan Ryan. Ryan was, apparently, a ‘true republican’ who expressed his patriotism mostly through extorting money from drug dealers and publicans. Just as Wolfe Tone envisaged.
Most of the papers also pointed out that the difference between Mr Ryan’s revolutionary activities and straightforward criminality is difficult to discern. Yet the presence of the Action Man outfits at the graveside would seem to indicate that he and his cohorts felt they were, and still are, fighting for some achievable ideal; some idea of a ‘free’ Ireland.
As the rest of us know, Irish history has moved on, as have ideas about what political shape this island may take in the future. It’s no longer dogma that the fourth green field should be re-acquired. People of all political shades are trying their best to keep an open mind for the greater good of peace. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than it was. There’s no glory in death and dismemberment.
So how can a group of people be intellectually immune to these ideas? How can they dismiss what the vast majority of people on this island are in favour of and have voted for? It’s not as if these are crusty old IRA men who cannot give up the fight. Alan Ryan was just 32.
To ignore the overwhelming logic of our current historical path must require a level of delusion only maintainable through psychosis. Republicanism has become the province of the mentally ill.
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