THE MONSTER IS OFF THE LEASH
Karen Lyden Cox
September 7, 2001
The train from Dublin's Connolly Station to Belfast Central came to an unexpected halt between scheduled stops. Nervous tension filled the coach immediately in spite of the grownups' attempts to appear nonchalant. Instantly terrified, the little girl jumped to the conclusion: "Is it the bad men, Daddy?! Is it the bad men?!"
Welcome to the gerrymandered British statelet of northern Ireland where the architecture of colonialism continues to cripple society, and the question of impending danger and death is never "if", but always "when".
The little girl's religious affiliation and tribe weren't branded into her forehead - yet - and I didn't know or care whether or not she was "Protestant/loyalist" or "Catholic/republican". No one's child should live in fear.
I smiled at her reassuringly, hoping for her sake that I was telling the truth. She couldn't smile back. After all, she couldn't possibly know if I was on her side, or the other side.
I hope she wasn't on the Ardoyne Road this week, not on either side. While loyalist parents are hurling their hatred on "Fenian scum schoolgirls", gloating self-satisfaction in an exercise aimed at one-upping the other side, they are doing as much damage to their own. They are teaching their children to be racist; to fear, loathe and hate - killing their chances for a better future. That's the ticket to maintaining the status quo of misery for the next generation in Northern Ireland; hatred inciting hatred.
Pity the Protestants/unionists and the bewildered citizens on England's mainland who are running the other way in an attempt to divorce themselves from this crowd; the situation wasn't created for their benefit either.
Confused about who belongs where? The confusion is understandable. If republicans fly the Butcher's Apron alongside the Tricolor tomorrow, loyalists will be scurrying to cover red, white, and blue curbs with purple, pink, and black. Loyalism is not about pledging loyalty to the British government, the Queen, English ethnicity, or Protestant religion . . . unless it suits. Loyalism, Orangeism, is about privilege and maintaining privilege. It is about economics and maintaining class division. It is about bigotry and oppression in an apartheid state. All the more amazing, then, is the sight of the least privileged of the Orange screaming the loudest, and for what? They're saving their inch of ground in north Belfast to retain their substandard housing and a permanent place in the dole queue. That's all that's on offer to them for propping up the corrupt system all these years.
And meanwhile, where are the politicians? The sectarian monster suited more than one political agenda when it could be kept under control. It's scarier now that the monster is off the leash. The politicians are calling for someone to do something, adopting the crowd strategy of looking around frantically for someone else to assume leadership and take action. Are they hiding behind a process that spends a lot of time going nowhere and never ends? This just might be the cue for regular people to stop looking for others they perceive as more intelligent and more powerful than themselves to take control of the situation, and try and find their own way to resolve it - for everyone's benefit.
Liam Clarke, The Sunday Times, Comment, July 8, 2001, suggested that Drumcree 2001/Garvaghy Rd. might change the manifestation of bigotry in the Orange State and how the world perceives it, and secure it's future legally:
"There is an old joke about a hungry cowboy who stops to water his horse at a Midwestern homestead. The house is guarded by a determined-looking geriatric with a double-barrelled shotgun. "Nice place you got old timer. Lived here all your life?" inquires the cowboy. "Not yet sonny," comes the reply. The thought sprung to mind when I read the title of Chris Ryder and Vincent Kearney's excellent history of the Garvaghy Road dispute, Drumcree: The Orange Order's Last Stand. The last stand? Maybe that will be the judgment of history but, as the man said, not yet sonny. Western European Marxists used to talk a lot about pre-revolutionary situations and, in that sense, it could be said that the Orange Order is in a "pre-defeat situation". All the seeds of defeat are there but, like the seeds of revolution, they can be killed off or turned into fashion statements . . . There was a new air of realism from David Jones, the Portadown Orange Order's spokesman, when he told me that "we don't want to fight our way down Garvaghy Road, we want to walk legally . . . The idea of a Portadown civic forum to consider the marching issue, dreamed up by Archbishop Robin Eames and adopted by the order, is a good one. It would allow representatives of business and tourism, who each summer see trade destroyed, as well as trade unions and community groups, to come together with the order and Garvaghy residents to discuss a way of accommodating the town's traditions without annual chaos."*
I doubt that many people in the world, who have witnessed the in-your-face tradition of hatred in Ardoyne this week and who are speaking out against it, will be fooled by attempts to give the Orange Sash a more fashionable look. White Sheets aren't stylish in Harlem. Hopefully, disgust and horror at what has happened in north Belfast will turn the tides of hatred in everyone's communities, as well as in all of Ireland.
Will northern Ireland institutionalize the trappings of apartheid for the purpose of making the wealthy wealthier without distraction and interruption, at the expense of all the children? "Not yet, Sonny." Even if it takes the next generation of wiser children to slay the monster.
*quoted from: http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2001/07/08/stiireopn01003.html?