2013 12 – Ireland and Irish Americans

Mr Bean Falls Over The Facts

Time Out, a London listings magazine, probably the first such publication of its kind, interrupts its endless lists with other matter, among which are interviews. One appears in the March 19-23, 2013 edition (No. 2220), under the over-all Theatre category. It is entitled Backstage With… Richard Bean. He is author of the very successful One Man, Two Govnors (sic) a ‘take’ on the Goldoni play. Bean is a successful playwright, mostly of recreations of novels and movies, like The Count of Monte Cristo, and Smack (clearly a long way from the respectable Swiss Family Robinson).  An uncharacteristic product was England People Very Good (2009). According to Time Out, the “National Theatre comedy about four generations of immigrants” [surely only the first generation can be called ‘immigrant’? – upstart] “was hit by protests accusing it of racism”. Which was, naturally, not the case. According to Mr Bean, “‘It was basically one man who organised a campaign against the play, a Bangladeshi playwright. In fairness, he’s possibly writing plays about the Bangladeshi community, and then I come along with a play whose fourth act is all Bengalis. But then he missed the central point of the play; it was about stereotyping”.

What a wonderful guy you might be inclined to think, anent ‘stereotyping’. He meant that not all Bengalis are whatever they were deemed to be in the ‘noughties’.  It is difficult to know what that might have been. (Muslim) Bangladeshis are family-oriented, obsessed with ‘education’ and determined to make it on Britain’s terms.  Presumably, Hindu Bengalis, (from the state in the Indian Union, due to a sectarian partition in 1907), are largely the same sort of amiable people.

Mr. Bean’s last outing was The Big Fellah (2010), in Time Out‘s careful heading, tends to undermine his (and Time Out‘s assessment).  Here is precisely what Time Out claims:

A scathing satire on Irish American support of terrorism.”

“We know perfectly well that the Irish American Community supported the IRA for 30 years.  And the core of that group was police and firemen, many of whom died in 9/11. That’s the smacking big irony that I don’t think anybody else has talked about.”

The above is gibberish.  No element of the post-1969 splits, (the INLA, Irish National Liberation Army), was a substantial, at least in numbers, ‘split’ from the ‘Officials’.  As was Republican / Sinn Féin / Poblachtach from the ‘Provisionals’ (RSF seems to have decided that a ‘split’ in the military end was not a smart idea) were involved in ‘terrorism’ in the USA.  There is the question of ‘terrorism’  It can only mean military means of which one disapproves.  In plain language, military means which work.

Throwing ‘9 / 11’ in there is puzzling. It probably has to do with the elderly ‘Anglo’ notion that they are subtle and the Nord Americanos are crude. Americans were quite capable of divining the difference between what was going on in Ireland and what caused 9 / 11.  ‘Terrorists’ do not all come out of the same box.  Except in the headline-obsessed world of Mr. Bean.

There is also the not-so-subtle fact that ‘the Irish American community”, is by no means the solid, substantial, (half-witted) element he is claiming. The Senate’s  ‘four horsemen’, Edward Kennedy in the lead, sponsored the SDLP and John Hume.  Who, in the 1980s, was probably in the US more often than in Ireland. Mr Hume didn’t loiter much around the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, to which he was elected.  He was invited to the White House and US State Houses and City Halls, when the President of Sinn Féin was not allowed into the country. (The President of RSF is not allowed in even today).  When Gerry Adams was allowed in, he had to hang about ‘Irish’ bars and specifically Irish Republican venues, for years.

The various factions in Ireland had and have their counterparts in the US.  There are probably more ‘Erps’ (members of the IRSP / Irish Republican Socialist Party) on America’s West Coast than in Ireland. Even the Workers’ Party still has a small following, quite apart from being a ‘sister-party’ of the CPUSA. Many of the Trot groups pine for sisterhood with something ‘live’ in Ireland, one is stuck with Socialist Democracy (People’s Democracy as was) in one of the 18, (at the last count), Trotskyist 4th Internationals. Sinn Féin, and as noted RSF, have support groups, the Democratic Socialist of America (part of the Democratic Party’s structure) probably would, in terms of policy, and affiliation to the Socialist International, support the Irish Labour Party. The point of the above is that citizens of the USA can line up with just about every even vaguely Nationalist or Republican group in Ireland.

Ulster Clubs & Emerald Societies

Brookeborough (Premier of ‘Northern Ireland’ 1943-63) set up Ulster Clubs in America in the 1950s to counter the Republicans (at that time Fianna Fáil would emphatically have included itself-in, under the ‘Republican’ label). O’Neill tended to run them down as they had strong connections with what there was of an Orange Order in the US. Not that O’Neill was unhappy about the Order, but it was bad ‘copy’ to be seen in the company of a small and largely plebeian group, in the States.  The Unionists, and the ‘Loyalist paramilitaries’, lost out in America, practically nobody wanted to line up with ‘pro-British’ elements. ‘The British’ are what the States united against, after all. Not even the crazed ‘Christian’ (largely anti-Semitic, but also anti-Catholic, and racist) militias wanted anything to do with the Loyalists.

It is true to say that bands from ‘Emerald Societies’ in New York’s police and fire departments marched in Republican Easter Rising ceremonies and internment commemorations. But never in Northern Ireland. Presumably NYC’s City Hall did not want problems with UK diplomats, or the White House. The latter, until President Bill Clinton decided to take an interest in the situation, simply followed London’s lead. London resented Clinton’s interest, but there wasn’t much it could do when the Emperor of the West (practically of the World, at that point) decided to take a hand.

Bean’s anti-IRA play The Big Fellah is entertaining enough. But it is based on a static group of six in New York City, who do not change over a 30-year period. They don’t recruit new members, and appear not to be part of anything like a political ‘movement’ in America. (The British press was furious when Newt Gingrich, the Conservative-Republican Speaker of the US Senate, practically embraced Gerry Adams on his visit to the Capitol in Washington).They are misogynistic and homophobic, their motivation is zero. Why they hang together for three decades sending off money and plant to the Provisionals is unexamined.

It is probably that great Anglo standby when discussing Ireland, an emotional spasm. But thirty years is a hell of a spasm.  Bean is being emotionally spasmodic here. Echoing press headlines he is putting forward a notion that ‘terrorism’ exists as a thing in itself, like a microbe. There is no rhyme or reason for people fighting an overwhelmingly better armed opponent to take to the ‘war of the flea’.

Britain likes to place itself in the victim-role (and gets very irritated if others get there first).  It ‘stood alone’ in 1940, despite the fact that Churchill, who coined the phrase, knew (from the spy-centre at Bletchley) that Hitler did not intend to invade. And despite the fact that the Dominions declared war simultaneously, (more-or-less; Mackenzie-King of Canada delayed his declaration, and some Boers rose in revolt when the ‘Dominion’ government did what England wanted.)  Congress (Indian National Congress) in India was outraged that there wasn’t even a show of consultation about the matter. Congress, post-war, turned the men who fought in Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army into pensioned heroes of the independence struggle. The INA (formed in Singapore out of Britain’s ‘Indian Army’ POWs) was not so much ‘pro-Axis’ as pro-Asian.

In 1939 Canada probably had a bigger navy than Germany, though in the 1950s the ‘British film industry’ consisted, practically speaking, of building the Nazi Realm up into a major naval power. And, of course, Hitler’s armies were always ‘hordes’ of mindless operatives who had to be told when to breath in and breath out. The fact was that there was a very high degree of initiative from the lowest level upwards in the Wehrmacht (and the Red Army).  ‘Standing alone’ in 1940 the UK had the navies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa at its disposal. The ‘Indian Navy’ was quite large, it policed the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Iraq and large chunks of Iran were run from New Delhi.

Richard Bean is almost certainly cooking something up for the centenary of 1914.  Presumably it will have to be reviewed . Any volunteers?

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