Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Freedom fighters?

The Big Ulsterwoman is (gasp) English. Well, we all have our faults. As part of her rehabilitation therapy I recently took her to a traditional musical evening at a nearby pub. The band played all the songs you'd expect, and we had a great Guinness-assisted time singing along to the Irish Rover, Whiskey in the Jar, The Leaving of Liverpool and all the other greats.

And then the singer announced a song honouring 'freedom fighters' and my thoughts sped back to 1981 West Belfast with housewives banging bin lids on the pavement as Bobby Sands & Co lay dying, and a UTV interviewer was informed, "Ah, shor th'are freedom fighters, so th'are".

No. They were terrorists, many of them calculating murderers. To style a terrorist a 'freedom fighter' is to lend him, deliberately, a deceptive air of moral integrity. A man who murders a policeman, whether an RUC man or a B-Special or Garda Jerry McCabe, displays no moral integrity and breaks God's 6th commandment. Life is sacred, even the life of terrorists. Unfortunately, in 1981 Sands & Co regarded their own lives, too, as expendable in a proud quest to be treated as political prisoners (instead of common criminals). To afford them 'Robin Hood' status is misleading, and to honour past murder is to encourage it in the future.

But the 21st century has started well. The true heroes of modern-day Irish nationalism are not terrorist murderers, but adept politicians seeking to change opinion through logical argument and by displaying openness, inclusiveness and a willingness to find common approaches to shared problems. One day there'll be songs about them, songs Big Ulstermen of all persuasions will be able to sing along to.


At 11:01 p.m., Anonymous maca said...

"I recently took her to a traditional musical evening"

Fair enough she's English but she doesn't deserve such punishment, poor lass :)


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