Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Murder Will Out

And so the findings of the Bloody Sunday enquiry have been published, the mother of all Sunday supplements.
One awaits the perorations of Simon Heffer with great interest - we already have Norman Tebbit, the only mainstream, mainland politician I have ever heard repeat the sectarian slogan 'No Surrender', calling for a similar enquiry into the Brighton bombing. The spastic reflexiveness with which some English are able to hate could put Glaswegians to shame. Brighton's perpetrators were jailed, while Bloody Sunday's were not. Justice was served in one case, but not another. Both events were terrible and avoidable. Any comparison between what happened in their aftermaths, in particular the comparative degree of legal process undertaken to pursue and punish the perpetrators, is specious.
What Tebbit and those like him just don't get, and were never interested in getting and never will be interested in getting, was the radicalising effect that Bloody Sunday had on some people. The 'journalist', I suppose he might be called, Douglas Murray has published a piece in 'The Daily Mail' quoting Col. Wilford, the CO of the Paras in Derry that day -
"I have to ask,’ he said, ‘what about Bloody Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and every day of the week? ‘What about Bloody Omagh? What about Bloody Warrenpoint, Enniskillen, Hyde Park, or Bloody Aldershot and Brighton — bloody everything the IRA have ever touched."
That which is inexcusable, and for which no excuse should ever be attempted, can still be understandable. Frankly, that Murray's thoughts are capable of being published on a subject so serious as this says much in my opinion for the declining standards of British journalism. As for Col. Wilford, he sounds like a man afraid of spending the rest of his days in custody. As Chuter Ede wrote on Timothy Evans's plea for clemency, 'The law must take its course'.
What Murray, steeped in the might is right intellectual violence of neoconservatism, and Wilford the old soldier still just don't seem to get is that without the events of 30th January 1972 there might not have been Omaghs, Enniskillens, Hyde Parks or Aldershots. Bloody Sunday was a radicalising event. Seeing your neighbours being shot in the street when unarmed and running away does not make you love the shooters; just as seeing your family bombed to smithereens from 30,000 feet does not make you love the bombers. One of the real tragedies of Bloody Sunday was that it was a rehearsal for Iraq, although nobody knew it at the time. During the campaign of 2003 and afterwards, we were told that the British would be well prepared to police Basra because of their experience in Northern Ireland. It doesn't seem to have dawned on anyone that the reason they were so good at that type of operation was bitter experience learned in the aftermath of a few soldiers going out of control. With their penchant for killing people from the edge of space and imprisoning innocent people without charge on the other side of the world, the American military establishments inflicted a thousand Bloody Sundays on Iraq, and then seemed puzzled when people resisted. The problem wasn't that Saddam was the new Hitler - it was that they were the new 1 Para, and nobody had bothered to tell them.
The time has come to say it - much of what happened that day was cold-blooded, state sanctioned murder. A murderer in a red beret firing his weapon with the blessing of the Crown is still a murderer. The publication of today's report is a work of intellectual hygiene upon the British body politic which is nearly 40 years overdue. One can only reflect on how many lives, including soldiers' lives, might have been spared had it been conducted a great deal sooner.
(Update 16/04/10 - I've made some changes. It now makes more sense)

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2 Comments:

Blogger William said...

"without the events of 30th January 1972 there might not have been Omaghs, Enniskillens, Hyde Parks or Aldershots."

It's certainly true that the Provisional IRA had contented itself with only murdering Protestants and soldiers in Northern Ireland before Bloody Sunday. I don't think it's reasonable to extrapolate from this that they would have completely abandoned their murderous strategy in the absence of Bloody Sunday.

I think people are right to be angry. We now have a situation where the entire name of the British Army - an organisation that for 30 years stopped NI descending into all-out anarchy - is blackened whilst known murderers like Martin McGuinness demand selective justice. People who have no interest in upholding the justice system are using it to undermine the system.

People have a right to be angry. Bloody angry, some might say.

16 June, 2010 09:15  
Blogger Martin said...

William,

Your Blogger profile is not shared, so you'll excuse me for thinking that you're just another Internet blowhard. I know, I'm one myself.

That's a rather sweeping claim to make about the Army. One would have thought that the RUC, the UDR and the rest of the United Kingdom's alphabetty spaghetti security apparatuses - and, oh, yes, those many residents of Ulster who just wanted to live their lives in peace - would have had as much to do with preventing 'all out anarchy' And what's 'all out anarchy'. Is that like 'all in wrestling'?

Your suggestion that the 'entire name of the British Army..is blackened' is also overblown. The shielded identities of a few murderous thugs from 1 Para who went gung ho and shot people marching for civil rights have been blackened, and rightly so - for 40 years they've hidden behind people like you, natural Tories for whom might is always right. Lord Tebbit of Polecat-In-Your-Face wants a public enquiry into Brighton in the wake of Saville. Given that Brighton's perpetrators were caught and imprisoned, the one thing that never happened to those who murdered on Bloody Sunday, whatever analogy he might make between the two events is automatically specious.

You might have noticed that I haven't defended the Provisional IRA. This is in spite of me having an Irish name and (gasp!) sometimes writing good things about Catholicism. Oh, the horror! I can't stand them, they're nothing to do with me. However, just think for a moment, if you can, about how much easier McGuinness's life was made by the events of 30/01/72; and then think how many soldiers lives could have been spared had a harder line been taken by our government in the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday. But no, like all good Brits we preferred to stamp on the faces of the bleeding rather than question the actions of our Establishment. Bit of a shame, really.

As for the justice system being undermined, what's the alternative? If you're suggesting military dictatorship, then you may feel free to go forth and multiply, your comments being moderated with extreme prejudice.

16 June, 2010 23:17  

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