Watching some of the responses to Bob Geldoff’s diatribe against the Easter Rising, the safest conclusion is that much of it is feigned. Claiming offence at Bob’s bollix while remaining wholly unperturbed at the sight of former revolutionaries standing on their hind legs, a la Orwell’s pigs in Animal Farm, to wine and dine with the Queen of England, simply invites a quizzical eyebrow.
The British queen - whose government is still claiming sovereignty over part of the country, underwriting its division, jailing republicans for their alleged activity during the Provisional IRA’s failed campaign to remove Her Majesty’s writ, delaying at every opportunity investigations and inquiries when Her Majesty’s forces are in the frame – induces nothing remotely approaching the incandescent rage that Geldof can manage. Taking offence it seems is a highly selective practice.
I no more like Geldof’s politics than I do his music, even though he sings better than he talks. His hectoring manner has never impressed me even when it is for a cause like Live Aid. Sir Robert has long been Bob the Bore. Having had to listen to him now going on forty years, apart from "I don't Like Mondays" and "I hate the Rising", there is nothing else he has ever said that I am able to remember such is the penetrating power of his spoken word. Bob pressing his logic into my mind is like pushing a car with a rope. So what if he doesn’t think the Rising was anything other than collective suicide by maniacs. I simply cannot work up the energy to either be outraged or pretend to be outraged. Bob Geldof’s views on the Rising are as interesting as his views on whatever else he has talked about in the last year, of which I know nothing.
The funny part is when Bob resorts to anachronistic Catholic religious cant to analyse the Rising:
You dignify it by saying it was martyrdom. If it's grievous mortal sin to commit suicide, why is it a lesser sin to hurl yourself upon a willing bayonet? Why is that a martyrdom? So much rests on this myth. How many murders have been sanctioned in its name?
I suppose the same could be said for those who allow themselves to be crucified so that they can save the world, or charge machine gun turrets at the Somme.
Then there is this: "It looks the same doesn’t it, the modern Islamic suicide bomber and the people in the Post Office?" I guess it does like the same if you look at both through the knighted eye.
There are many views of the Rising. It is healthy that there are, even if we consider many of them wrong. But it is not a "wrong" to hold a wrong view. It is a right to be able to hold a wrong view. It is very much a wrong when those offended by the wrong view start behaving like the Ministry of Truth, gathering with torches to purify the offender to shouts of achtung and verboten.
When the following meme began to appear on the internet, it immediately struck me as so emblematic of fascistic thinking, that if the sentiment it expressed was allowed to take root it would constitute a much greater danger than the ramblings of Bob Geldof. It brought back memories of Fine Gael Justice Minister, Paddy Cooney in full ISIS mode fulminating that prisoners had no rights.
Geldof has the right to hold whatever opinion he wants of the Rising, or anything else for that matter. He just has no right to insist that we share it, while we in turn have the right to laugh at his opinion.
If people think Geldof is wrong, then reach for the pen, not the muzzle. Do what Jude Collins did and hold him up to ridicule.