Prostrating for Peace at the Palace

by

 “Oh Irish men forget the past

And think of the day that’s coming fast

When we will all be civilisedNeat and clean and well-advised

Won’t Mother England be surprised

Whack fol the diddle all the di do day.”

The day dawned last week at Windsor Castle and thank god we didn’t let ourselves down. Spick and span and all at ease in the knowledge that anybody who sniggered at the sight of us would instantly be anathematised as a backwoodsperson and an opponent of peace. The thought surely popped into others’ minds, too – Why don’t we break entirely with the attitudes of the olden days and get down on our knees?

Is there anywhere else on earth where splicing a quail’s egg with the queen can be seen as a symbol of leaving quaint habits behind? There are places, of course, where she is regarded as the newsworthy head of a celebrity family or a tourist attraction or a harmless reminder of an imagined past. But a banquet in the gilded surrounding of Windsor Castle as a cutting-edge event? Dear god.

There is an island in the south Pacific whose people adhere to a cargo cult and – so it’s said – regard the Queen’s husband as a god. We are not there yet, but it’s early days.

As gush and mush engulfed the land last week, Professor Roy Foster surfaced to give us his expert opinion that relations between the British and Irish ruling classes were now so intimate as to be “nearly as good as sex”. What sad, limited lives some of these academics lead.

Bull-headed Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary found himself in a spot of bother a couple of weeks back for making a joke about having sex with the Queen. How offensive! spluttered specialists in etiquette. But some of us found the remark among the least offensive of Mr. O’Leary’s oeuvre, certainly less offensive than Professor Foster’s sleveen intervention. A matter of taste, I suppose.

Actually, the professor didn’t use the phrase as “ruling class”. Far too old-fashioned when dealing with the modern, progressive, peace-making House of Windsor.

The propaganda which came pulsing through the media for the duration of the visit told that the meeting between the Queen and President Higgins and Martin McGuinness will have facilitated reconciliation between the British and Irish people. But the vast majority of us have no need of the Queen’s involvement to achieve reconciliation with our British neighbours. Like many others once corralled within the Empire, we have long managed to combine a distaste for imperial power with congenial friendship towards the British people.

Cementing relations between the peoples of these islands is not what the “monstrous stupidity” was about. It was about the Irish elite celebrating their acceptance into a layer of society they have long wanted to be part of. For them, the significance of the peace process is that it has liberated them from any need to pretend dislike for the flummery and pomp which deep down – not all that deep, as a matter of fact – they have envied and always aspired to. In this sense at least, the feast in the castle was truly historic.

One lesson to be learnt from “the hideous, revolting and vulgar tomfoolery” (English republican William Morris again) is that nationalists, irrespective of how long they fight or at what cost, are merely applying for membership of the club. It is well to recall that Sinn Fein founder Arthur Griffith thought it demeaning to the nation that while Britain, France, Germany etc., had colonial possessions to plunder, distressful Ireland remained empty-handed.

It has been an implicit demand of nationalism down the decades that Irish people should not be exploited by foreigners when they are Irish people available to do the job themselves, a perspective summed up in the phrase – which de Valera never said, but should have – that “labour must wait.”

Which brings us to the threat of a Royal presence at ceremonies marking the centenary of the Easter Rising. It’s said Prince Charles will be the Family’s representative. Would it be practical for McNamara’s Band to make a comeback for the occasion? McCarthy on the old bassoon while Doyle the pipes will play? Hennessy Tennessee tootling the flute?  They might greet the commander-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment as he waves his way along O’Connell Street with a rousing rendition of “See The Conquering Hero Come”. Makes your heart swell just to think on it.

Rejecting the pleas of Dublin business people and parliamentary leaders in 1911 that all should welcome George V so as to consolidate the prospect of Home Rule, James Connolly observed that the British royal family “has been notorious in history for the revolting nature of its crimes, murder, treachery, adultery, incest, theft, perjury -every crime known to man.”

Wouldn’t get away with saying the like of that these days, would he>? Whack fol the diddle all the di do day.”

Eamonn McCann can be reached at Eamonderry@aol.com

Eamonn McCann is an Irish journalist and political activist. He can be reached at Eamonderry@aol.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”