was giving out the other night about one of the lying
liars who lie for George Bush accusing Sinn Fein of
not telling the truth when a Shinner friend warned:
"You're not just trying to get at us, are you?"
had prompted his suspicion was my wondering why they
hadn't told the lying liar to go boil his head in
a bucket of shite.
"special envoy" on the North, fanatical
pro-warrior Mitchell Reiss, had rubbished Sinn Fein's
full-page Paddy's Day ad. on policing in the New York
Times as, "at best enormously misleading and
at worst untruthful." Reports had it that the
ad cost $25,000---more than half the sum which Sinn
Fein officially spent on their entire Assembly election
campaign back in November. It must have been terrifically
important to them to get their policing message across
to the influential Times readership. In the same measure,
I reasoned, they must have been terrifically angered
at Reiss for rubbishing their effort.
why hadn't they blasted him back with both barrels?
Responded with the sort of full-blooded denunciation
which would automatically have been unleased if it
had been, say, the SDLP, the UUP or Fine Gael which
had accused them of telling untruths about policing?
came from Sinn Fein instead was a pained point-by-point
reply to Reiss in Irish American newspapers, and a
statement explaining how "disappointed"
the party was at his harsh words. Singing, as always
these days, from the official Sinn Fein hymn-sheet,
Fr. Sean McManus lamented that Reiss had "hurt
both President Bush and the Irish peace process."
have reached the stage of obesience where an advocate
for Sinn Fein responds to an attack on the party by
a Bush staffer not by rounding on Bush but by chastising
the staffer for being "hurtful" to Bush...
of the party's committed US supporters, lawyer Ed
Lynch, was "dismayed and disappointed" by
Reiss's statement, particularly in view of the "good
work" done by Reiss and the Bush administration
any lingering danger that dismay at Reiss's statement
might be misunderstood as hostility to Bush, McManus
added: "I have consistently praised President
Bush on the peace process...Since 1972, when I first
came to the US, the only president I have not criticised
on Ireland is George W. Bush."
the notion of a Bush crony like Reiss calling anybody
to account for untruthfulness is staggering in its
effrontery. Bush himself, it will be recalled, has
long been lying like a trooper. (How he learnt how
troopers lie is, like so much else in his parasite
past, a mystery. Drafted at a time when tens of thousands
of other young Americans were dutifully dying or losing
their limbs or minds while massacring villagers in
Vietnam, Bush duly reported, took
advantage of the tax-funded dental examination on
offer to inductees, then scarpered before sundown
to spend the next two years drunk-driving around Texas,
harrassing women and generally using his newly-capped
teeth to bite every hand which had unknowingly fed
has stayed true, so to speak, to form since. His former
top counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke is just
the latest to confirm that he frauded, faked and falsified
evidence to procure death and misery for millions
and plunge the world into danger by going to war on
Iraq. It isn't so much that the Bush gang can't handle
the truth as that when they are contemplating violence
they can't be arsed about the truth.
you'd have thought, would you not?, that some spokesperson
for Sinn Fein would have responded to Reiss by reminding
him of pots and kettles and telling him to fuck off.
But, as we've seen, not a bit of it.
The cynical view is that SF leaders so adore being
included on the Washington-gig guest-list, and would
find it so devastating to be dropped, that they accept
a slapping around from a well-placed wretch like Reiss
as part of the price to be paid.
there's something more fundamental going on here,
too, which in its own cack-handed way entitles the
party to some slack. It's doing what comes naturally.
Natural to Nationalists, that is. By which I don't
mean Northern Catholics, a disparate lot, but adherents
of Nationalist ideology.
is, essentially, neither left-wing nor right-wing,
radical nor reactionary, pro- nor anti-imperialist.
A Nationalist party like Sinn Fein tends to occupy
whichever point on the political spectrum best suits
its needs as notional embodiment of the nation at
any particular point. As place and time and assessments
of the "national interest" changes, Nationalism
shifts position. It will express itself rhetorically
in anti-imperialist terms when this is the best pitch
for pulling in votes or keeping a particular element
on-side. On a different day, facing a different audience,
it will hymn praise for the role and influence of
imperialist power. One day, an Ogra speaker is licensed
to tell UCD students that Sinn Fein believes that
Bush's "War on Terror" is a hypocrite's
cover for imperialist aggression. The next day, a
Sinn Fein leader on tour in the US will assure a Senator
that the party is wholly in support of the "War
on Terror". It's always been thus.
Dorothy Macardle's "The Irish Republic"
a couple of weeks ago, I came across an account of
a clandestine June 1920 meeting of the First Dail,
then in its pure phase, prior to the Cosgrave sell-out,
the de Valera sell-out and all subsequent sell-outs.
These were the incorruptibles, or at least the uncorrupted,
in the full flush of political youth, unbesmirched
by office, careless of personal advancement, focused
only on national freedom. Michael Collins and Harry
Boland were prominently in attendance.
delegates voted to empower de Valera, then on a north
American tour, to spend a million dollars held in
the US to buy friends and influence people in Washington.
The US was in its post-World War One anti-Red frenzy,
the political class filled with hysteria about Bolshevik
Russia, which it wanted the rest of the world to shun.
his bid to win US establishment support, Dev gave
a series of interviews heaping praise on the 1903
Platt Amendment, the arrangement which handed the
US permanent sovereignty over Guantanamo Bay, guaranteed
that Cuba would never enter into an international
agreement without US approval, and allowed the US
untrammeled right to intervene in Cuba if ever it
felt threatened by developments on the island. The
Platt Amendement has provided the framework for US
policy on Cuba ever since.
New York Globe headlined de Valera's endorsement of
the Platt Amendment as marking the moment when Irish
Republicanism, for all its occasionally unnerving
rhetoric, spelt it out that it represented no threat
to US interests: "De Valera opens the door!"
Republican traditionalists like John Devoy who attacked
Dev for compromise were dismissed as "zealots...unrealistic"
and pushed out to the margins of the Movement.
same meeting of the Dail which despatched Dev to reassure
the 1920 equivalents of Reiss that Sinn Fein approved
of the adminisatration's "good work," unanimously
passed a motion calling for agents to be despatched
to the governments of "several countries,"
including---the only country specifically mentioned---"the
Government of the Russian Socialist Soviet Federal
Republic, with a view to establishing diplomatic relations
with that Government."
of the anti-imperialist struggle on this side of the
pond. God Bless America on the other.
Fein leaders today are not betraying party tradition
when they authorise a spokesperson out of earshot
of Washington to call the liar Bush a liar---then,
the next day, bite their tongues rather than repudiate
one of the liar's lying representatives who has accused
them of untruth. To attack the current Sinn Fein leadership
for reneging on principles is to miss the main point:
they are not deviating from but are following closely
along the path trodden by every previous Sinn Fein
the Sinn Fein tradition, and the Nationalist ideology
underlying it, which needs to be questioned, not the
current leadership's interpretation of it.
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