Sunday, July 31, 2005

Fluffy bunnies and suicide bombers...

"No serious person could ever negotiate on the demands of terrorists who have been using suicide bombers to kill people..."

We are not going to deal with this problem, with the roots as deep as they are, until we confront these people at every single level."

"I don't think the IRA would ever have set about trying to kill 3,000 people,"
-Tony Blair

It would appear that Mr Blair thinks that one of the terrorist groups that bombed the country I grew up in for 36 years were fluffy bunnies in comparison to the suicide bombers representing Al Quaeda.

Tell that to my mum's cousin who lost her husband then. Tell that to the families of the 1800 people they did kill. Tell that to the families whose young people could see no other future than the provos. Tell that to the couples who had to flee to England because of intimidation.

If the IRA were really the gentleman's terorist, you really might have told me so when had to walk home, lost in the pouring rain and accept the kindness of a random girl from the bus who invited me into her family's house for tea n cake while the madness raged outside preventing me from getting home from school. Would have been nice to know that when my primary school had to spend almost an entire morning lying on the floor in the gym because there had been a paramilitary related shooting outside the school gate. (My teacher still made us bring our work books with us tho - hmmph!)

Tell that to my secondary school teachers who had to put up with our ridiculous prankish behaviour - was it just my school where kids stole wires from the technology lab and shoved them into a lunch box in order to create a security scare? Tell that to me and my friends when we had to be evacuated out of our maths exam (well, maybe that was quite kind of them...)

I'm not arguing that Al Quaeda are a different kind of terrorism than the IRA, nor am I arguing that Al Quaeda have operated on a far larger scale and have been far more deadly.

But what I am arguing is this.

No. 1. The IRA murdered around 1800 people - they weren't nice friendly terrorists. Lets not glam them up or romanticise the republican struggle. People can get very romantic these days about Irish terrorism, but I grew up with it and assure you, it is anything but romantic.

No. 2. We negotiated with the IRA. That is how steps towards peace have been made. I suggest we can learn a few lessons from this. We must listen in humility and be willing to change. Our government, our politics, our foreign policies have all played a role in creating people who feel so angry and disenfranchised that they are willing to turn to terrorist violence. We can and we must be willing to sit down and listen. You can't stop a fire by throwing petrol on it.


postliberal said...

Nobody could sanely try to paint any act, that entails the conscious inovolvement of ordinary people in violence, as justifiable. If there are motives that are claimed to be just and rightous, it's an oxymoron to use means to such an end that nullify the aims.

But at the same time, dealing with those who use violence needs to be done with a proper recognition of the variety. One group is not the same as another, in cause or approach. The means of trying to deal with the IRA cannot be the same as those in dealing with Al-Qeada-esc groups. To use a template would be less than useful, as they're plainly different in thier motives and ends - and in what they may fully contemplate doing along the way.

Nobody can romanticise a group, just cos they use gaelic and try to creat mythical heroes from rotton thugs. But there can be negotiation, which cannot be denied by trying to conflate a para-millita with a suicide bomber.

Twyla said...

I especially agree with No. 2. And thank you for sharing these tough memories with us.

Digger said...

As somebody who has no real knowledge of, or experience of terrorism, particularly not of the Irish variety,thanks for sharing.

And I'm now a little less confused, as I went to your old blog and found it was the same author as that of this new blog I had found!

Contemplative Activist said...

As I said in my post, I'm not saying that Al Quaeda are just like the IRA - they are clearly not. However, I am saying that a general principle seems to apply when solving conflict. Look at Northern Ireland, or perhaps more pertinently, South Africa - the need for truth, listening, forgiveness and forging a future together as partners is vital. We need to find a way to listen.

"Nobody can romanticise a group, just cos they use gaelic and try to creat mythical heroes from rotton thugs."

You would be surprised my dear, you would be surprised...

postliberal said...

I wouldn't be actualy - that was more an expression of what I wish were the case, than what is. Unfortuantely, all sorts of terrible things can be dressed up and made presentable in the right garb - even the terrible "Lord's Resistence Army" in Africa.

I suppose my general comments here were made as much to those who claim 'no talk' as anything else. Some people would use a similar line to the one you've taken, but extrapolate that no negotiations can be conducted with the IRA. This kind of rigid reactionary responce is dangerous, especially if it's taken simply on the basis of calling violent people in a dismissive "we can just shoot at them and sort it out that way" manner. Some would deny the very act of listening, as if to do so would condone the crimes of violent people.

Contemplative Activist said...

"Some would deny the very act of listening, as if to do so would condone the crimes of violent people. "

Daft eejits, we should lock them all up and throw away the key.]


Not that I'm a hypocrite you understand.

Anonymous said...

Kalimarie (how it's pronounced)
I sat watching BBC world and thought - hell has frozen over! They've done this twice before and they may yet do it again.
They would have killed 3000 people if they had the chance. They are convicted terrorists and I'm not sure Blair would be so strong on negoitating with convicted terrorists if it was his choice.

Actions speak louder than words... let's see what happens I guess.


Anonymous said...

I think your a wounded hurt and lost little girl - yes delete this

Contemplative Activist said...

Hi Anonymous

I only delete advertising from my comments so you are free to say whatever you like.

Care to explain why you think that?