A modern attitude to Bloody Sunday

Standard-issue Loyalist (British) community graffiti in Belfast – a “Taig” is a racist term for an Irish nationalist, or Irish Catholic. “RA” is just short for “IRA“..

Obviously, the blokes who spray this stuff on to public property are small fry, not overly-endowed with grey matter.

Interestingly though, in Unherd (an English online political journal), an obviously literate English bloke set out, in some length, his views why it was reasonable to murder lots of random Irish people.

It struck me that, in essence, his views are substantively identical to those expressed in the above graffiti. I have screen-grabbed his posts below. (I have also kept larger screen-grabs, showing dates and times.)

From Wiki:

Bloody Sunday, or the Bogside Massacre, was a massacre on 30 January 1972 when British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. Fourteen people died: thirteen were killed outright, while the death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers, and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. Other protesters were injured by shrapnel, rubber bullets, or batons, two were run down by British Army vehicles, and some were beaten. All of those shot were Catholics. The march had been organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) to protest against internment without trial. The soldiers were from the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (“1 Para”), the same battalion implicated in the Ballymurphy massacre several months before.

Two investigations were held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the aftermath, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame. It described some of the soldiers’ shooting as “bordering on the reckless”, but accepted their claims that they shot at gunmen and bomb-throwers. The report was widely criticised as a “whitewash”. The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the incident much more thoroughly. Following a twelve-year investigation, Saville’s report was made public in 2010 and concluded that the killings were “unjustified” and “unjustifiable”. It found that all of those shot were unarmed, that none were posing a serious threat, that no bombs were thrown and that soldiers “knowingly put forward false accounts” to justify their firing.”

Of course, to this day, many pro-Union folk in the North of Ireland continue to view the murders as cause for celebration, and the murders were, and still are, viewed with a certain relish by many. This attitude still finds ready expression among right-wing Englishmen, especially those from a narrow military background.

Check out Charles Stanhope (obviously not his real name), an English bloke, seemingly from a British army background, posting on Unherd.

First, our hero reckons that the best way to have sorted out the Troubles would have been for the British army to have shot a lot more people in Derry.

His position here derives from multiple fantasies:

1 That the civil rights marchers were all in the IRA; and

2 That there was no IRA outside of Derry lol; and

3 That giving the Paddies a bloody nose would jolly well calm the buggers down.

(When reading his next statement, keep in mind that, during the Troubles, around 1% to 2% of the Irish Nationalist population were members of the IRA.).

Charles then explains the British rationale for Bloody Sunday.

Note, in doing so, also how Charles cherry-picks his facts to suit his colonist’s bias. He fails to mention that the deterioration in relationships between Irish Nationalists and the British army stemmed from a prior series of abuses by the British, notably their disastrous introduction of internment without trial, wherein the British, relying on very inaccurate and outdated intelligence (dating from the 1950s), arrested hundreds of uninvolved, innocent Nationalists, and roughed them up, including using them as guinea pigs for new torture techniques that the British army were keen to try out, including sleep deprivation, hoodings, stress positions, continual beatings, water-boarding, helicopter drops, dog runs etc.

In that context, the IRA in Belfast had shot some soldiers. In Charles’ view, the obvious way to exact retribution for an attack by the IRA in Belfast was to (wait for it) shoot a few random Catholics in Derry.

Charles’ logic is practical racism in action (“they’re all the same“), based on his use of the forward slash – by mentally putting a forward slash between “Catholics” and “IRA”, Charles soon talked himself into a position of de facto race hatred, namely that there was absolutely no difference beween a small group of shadowy IRA members and over half a million ordinary Irish Catholics, who, dashed inconveniently, were not in the ‘RA. But hey ho, a trusty forward slash sorts out that little bit of categorisation untidiness, freeing a path for his lads to take out a few of “the enemy“.

Incidentally, note the colonial mindset inherent in the use of the word “chastise” – colonists always views the natives as incompetent children, in perennial need of improvement by their white overlords. The reference to the “chastising” in the “sink estate” of Ballymurphy was the murder of 9 civilians by the British army in a poor housing estate in Belfast. “Richly deserved“, according to Charles, yet a 2021 Coroner’s Report into those murders concluded that “all those killed had been innocent and that the killings were without justification“. Just as the British government’s painstaking report into Charles’ “richly deserved” Derry murders by the British army concluded that those killings were “unjustified” and “unjustifiable“.

Next (below), Charles then takes refuge in another fantasy, namely that the civil rights marchers were”insurrectionists“.

Of course, in reality, the civil rights marchers were the exact opposite of insurrectionists, and Charles’ view of them is an ignorant absurdity. They were merely calling for reform in a UK context. In doing so, they effectively were calling for N Ireland to be treated similarly to Britain. The clue was in their name – Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. Irish Republicans don’t use the term “Northern Ireland”; as they do not wish to give credence to the place by using its official British-given name.  So, by using “Northern Ireland” in their name, the NICRA folk were showing themselves to be opposite of insurrectionists.  One of the leaders of NICRA was Ivan Cooper, a liberal Protestant. They were not in any way calling for an overthrow of the UK state. They weren’t even seeking to secede from the UK state. They were merely seeking some long-overdue, and, by today’s standards, some very basic and unremarkable administrative reforms within Northern Ireland, including, for instance, an end to rampant Unionist gerrymandering, an end to blatant Unionist discrimination in public housing allocation, and an end to the rotten borough system of multiple votes for rich landowners (who of course tended mainly to be British Unionists) in local council elections. Following an incident in Dungannon, where a single Protestant person was prioritised ahead of a Catholic family with small children, local Unionist MP, Ian Paisley, voiced the prevalent British view when he stated that “I’d rather be British than fair“. The NI state responded with conspicuous brutality to these modest requests, and sent out the Unionist police force, the RUC, to beat up the unarmed student demonstrators, which they did with evident glee:

RUC officers baton NICRA marcher, Duke Street, Derry, 1968

As a contemporaneous BBC report noted:

The RUC indiscriminately attacked protesters and observers with baton charges. Fleeing people were struck by baton blows from a gauntlet of officers. Water cannons were used for the first time in the United Kingdom. People, including John Hume, were shot down by a firehose of water. Using a blackthorn stick instead of a baton, the District Police Inspector joined in the beatings. Police conduct was eerily similar to the malevolence exhibited in Birmingham, Alabama by Police Chief ‘Bull’ Connor.”

And the interesting point is, Charles doesn’t even seek to deny that rampant anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, prejudice was endemic in Northern Ireland.  Above, even he admits that Northern Ireland was characterised by “a Protestant oligarchy and Catholic helots [serfs]”.

Very muddled thinking, but perhaps explicable by the standard-issue near-hysterical spasms of racist emotion with which blokes of his Blimpish class view the Paddies.

Let’s examine his thought processes – one the one hand (above), he states plainly that NI was badly ran, and structurally unfair.

Then he describes peaceful protests against such admitted unfairness as a “major insurrection“, and segues into an astonishing admission that a good response to protests by an embattled minority is for the forces of the state to weigh in on the side of what he admits was a “Protestant oligarchy” and kick the shit out of the serfs, whom he describes as “the enemy“:

Charles, tellingly, lets slip that he doesn’t consider Northern Ireland to be part of the UK – “if it had occurred in the UK.“, lol. Of course, despite the unrequited prostrations of Unionism, Britain has always viewed NI as lesser, and as other. This attitude underpins a colonial mindset which was able to justify sending in an elite wartime regiment to open fire on unarmed marchers. They’d never have done so in the real UK.

Despite admitting that NI was a British colonial failed experiment, under permanent maladministration by a “Protestant oligarchy” against its “Catholic helots“, Charles nonetheless feels strongly that the said “serfs” should under no circumstances have done anything about it, and should have meekly stayed at home and accepted their lot: “should have stayed at home and watched the telly“. One wonders if, in the face of similar systemic unfairnesses being perpetrated against English people, whether Charles’ advice would be to shut up and suck it up. Frankly, given his seeming military background and his stated propensity for extreme violence, I very much doubt that he’d be one for espousing supinity. Perhaps, in Charles’ view, the Irish are serfs, and it’s in the natural order of things that they should remain so? Otherwise, it’s difficult to reconcile the various sink-holes in his logic.

Charles concludes by once again regretting that the British army didn’t shoot lots more of the unarmed Irish protestors, and wistfully wonders how murdering “100+” of them might have worked. Damn – not enough murdered Paddies! I guess we all have regrets, Charles.

He then admits what has been apparent for decades – the Brits’ military top brass loved the Troubles – taking pot shots at the Paddies in a genuine conflict beats the hell out of schlepping rucksacks around the Brecon Beacons.

Nonetheless, what Chjrles here

There is a legal aspect to all of his bilious drivel though. In his posts reproduced above, Charles is commendably open about his view that collective punishment, namely mass murder of random Irish / Catholic is appropriate and, indeed, “richly deserved“.

We live in turbulent times, wherein stupid Loyalists, having been stirred up by people like Charles to agitate against the Brexit Protocol, are once again attacking innocent nationalists / Catholics, and threatening mayhem,

Charles’ racist concept of collective punishment, the notion that it doesn’t really matter which Irish person you kill (as they’re all “the enemy“), is catnip for these thugs.

It encourages them. As noted, “Taig” is a racist term for an Irish Nationalist / Catholic, and Charles’ “kill them all” approach is one that he shares with Loyalist thugs. The the ever-present “K.A.T.” graffito in Belfast is an acronym for “Kill All Taigs“, an atitude that Charles justifies at length in his foregoing posts about people like me, whom he views as “the enemy“:

Fortunately, in the UK, such outbursts are regulated by various hate speech statutes. For instance, section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986 states that:

Stating, without qualification, that mass murder of random Catholic / nationalist / Irish people is an appropriate way to deal with public protest could be construed as “insulting” to the said Catholic / nationalist/ Irish people; and, in my view, it could stir up racial hatred among certain elements in modern British society, especially in the North of Ireland.

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