Terrorism? Don’t make me laugh

Remind me again why the Provos were bad people. Was it that they killed innocent people? That they killed guilty people? Or that they killed at all?

At the height of the troubles I voted for Sinn Fein. I would be what you would call ‘pro-IRA’. Over many years I attempted to defend the IRA by putting its actions in the context of the conflict. My outlook was republican socialist and of course I was pro-Sandinista, pro-ANC, pro-PLO and so forth.

In arguments over the years I gave intellectual defence to the IRA when at times it was mighty hard to do so. It isn’t that easy to rationalise broken bodies and severed limbs.

People were repelled by the violence. The pro-British dwelled heavily on the casualties.

The bottom line was, we were told, violence was wrong. Violence was futile (I could never quite grasp that concept). Violence could never be justified.

Now in the midst of the American attack on Iraq, some of those who were most vociferously opposed to the IRA are the most gung-ho for the Americans. I’m thinking of people like Mary Harney, Kevin Myers and Eoghan Harris. It is now clear that they were never opposed to violence at all. Just republican violence.

Let’s take the Omagh bombing, for example. Now, being strongly in favour of the Good Friday Agreement, I’m strongly opposed to the Real IRA. I don’t feel any need to explain the Omagh bombing.

But let’s be honest. I did defend bombing, just like 99% of the Irish people seem to be able to defend some bombs. So what was wrong with the Omagh bombing?

I believe that the Omagh bombers didn’t mean to kill all those people. But the killings were a foreseeable result of putting a huge bomb in a civilian area. The Real IRA were wrong to plant that bomb on those grounds alone.

The British and Americans drop bombs on Iraqi cities. Like the Real IRA they don’t mean to kill civilians but they know that civilians will be killed. They proceed regardless.

Therefore, the ‘legitimacy’ of such an act lies not in whether it is right or wrong in itself but on who is doing the bombing and why they are doing it.

This is why I generally greet the word ‘terrorist’ with a snort of laughter. When I hear someone calling someone else a terrorist I know for sure that the user is a gobshite.

Nobody, bar pacifists, believes that terror in itself is wrong. The vast majority of people seem prepared to support violence at some point.

I have to tell you that the older I get the more I think the pacifists might be right. There are very few situations in the world where the use of violence doesn’t make things worse.

I’m sickened by the level of hypocrisy involved here.

The bodies of dead Iraqis are all over the TV but there is outrage when dead British or American soldiers are shown.

The call by the Americans for good treatment for captured US troops must have raised many a hollow laugh, given the outrageous and criminal treatment of the hundreds of people they abducted from Afghanistan.

Just who are the terrorists?