[Marxism] de mortuis...
gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 15 02:51:59 MDT 2014
A friend asked me for my opinion on the death of Ian Paisley. I had given
it little thought except for a feeling of surprise that he was still alive.
His was a career that was moderately (at best) interesting. He began as a
fiery sectarian preacher in the mold of Roaring Hugh Hanna from the 19th
Paisley rode the sectarian tiger of Ulster Loyalism with supreme skill. I
am still amazed that he stayed ahead of the Loyalist assassins. Some of
his performances were mildly amusing - his calling of the Pope "Aul Purple
Socks" was one such. Equally funny was the moment when he was been given
a hard time by a BBC journalist and he roared out "You have been drinking,
sir. Let me smell your breath!" The hapless journalist collapsed into weak
denials and no one noticed that the questions remain unanswered.
My own personal encounters with Paisley were twofold. Once I was standing
in a crowd in a Loyalist estate (don't ask!) with my son who was under two
at the time. Paisley paraded past in an open car. The crowd were ecstatic
and very vocal in their acclamation of their hero. Terrified, I whispered
with some urgency to my son "For f...k's sake wave!", and when he appeared
reluctant I grabbed his arm and waved frantically at Paisley who smiled and
waved back at us.
I don't think my son has yet forgiven me.
Many years later I was standing beside Paisley on a crowded airport bus
with Paisley at Heathrow and he smiled again at me and looked like he
wanted to say something, but I cut him dead.
That was after his notorious anti-gay campaign "Ulster says No" to the
legalization of homosexuality.
Martin McGuinness, former revolutionary, has said of Paisley's death that
he had lost a friend. Mainstream media has emphasized the change in Paisley
when he became First Minister in N. Ireland. I am not so sure. Forty
years living in Queensland, Australia, has convinced me of the strength of
continuities rather than ruptures, and I am now inclined to believe that
Paisley was all along an opportunist who played the bigot-clown, while it
was a valuable role and then switched to constitutional moderate, when he
realized his masters were serious about patching up "a peace agreement".
Whatever the case he is gone, and as Michael Collins, after eliminating the
British secret service in Dublin, once said "The air is sweeter".
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