The London Guardian’s letters page published some interesting comments today from Niall Farrell, the brother of Mairéad Farrell, a senior member of Óglaigh Na hÉireann (PIRA) who was assassinated in 1988 by British army special forces, along with two of her comrades, whilst they were reconnoitering the British protectorate of Gibraltar, prior to attacking British soldiers who were stationed there.(see below) Mr Farrell points out that whilst his sister is regarded as a martyr and hero to her comrades, to the Guardian and the rest of the UK and Irish media and the British establishment she was a terrorist. Yet a servant of that Establishment like Francis Pym, who recently died, was described in the Guardian as a man of great decency and principle.
Yet Pym had far more innocent blood on his hands than Mairéad Farrell, as in his time he had been British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Defense Secretary, Foreign Secretary, (During Falklands War) and whilst in the ‘House of Lords’ he voted for the illegal war on Iraq. Having never personally having experienced, oppression, occupation or inequality it is difficult to understand how the Guardian could justify calling Pym a decent and principled man, as to do so it would mean excusing the violence he inflicted on others whilst he held high political office.
More fair minded, and less partisan people might regard Mairéad Farrell and people like her, as individuals who have taken up arms because no democratic avenues were open to them through which they could right the injustices they faced. Thus far from being terrorists they should be regarded as freedom fighters or guerrillas. There was a time when the Guardian took this tack but not any more it seems, although English liberals have always been craven and weak when it came to facing up to the sins of their own government, the more so when it has been oppressing people beyond English shores.
One of the areas where the neo liberals have been successful, is by blanketing as terrorist all those who fight back against oppression and occupation. Whether they be those who are currently struggling against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, within Iraq and Afghanistan or retrospectively those who fought against the British presence in Ireland or the invasion of Lebanon by the IDF.
It is unfortunate that in todays world all who resist are blanketed by Western governments and media as terrorists or potential terrorists. Which is not only grossly unfair and inaccurate, but it has a poisonous effect within the communities from which these fighters come. Where far from being regarded as terrorists they are often held in respect, for they do not live in an abstract world but have parents, brothers, sisters uncles and friends etc.
Since time in memorial those with power have bastardized language to benefit their cause, but this does not make it right, nor do we need to acquiesce to them doing so, for if bin Laden is a terrorist for ordering the death of thousands on 9/11, what does that make Harry Truman, whose orders killed tens of thousands on the 6th and 9th of August 1945. Let alone GW Bush and Tony Blair when they illegally attacked Iraq almost five years ago to the day; and started a process that has led hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to an early grave.
The use of words like terrorist is designed to dehumanize those who resist, whether for a good cause or bad and it does nothing to bring about a resolution of these conflicts and even worse it leads us to believe that our suffering is worse than that which we [the West] inflict on others and that is hypocrisy of the worst kind.
Niall Farrell’s letter to the Guardian.
I have to agree with Ian Jack (My silence about the terrorists was only partly cowardly, March 8) on one point: political memories are usually selective. My sister, Mairéad Farrell, is a “martyr” to her comrades and a “terrorist” to the Guardian and the British establishment. On the other hand, the English imperialist Lord Pym was, a “man of great decency and principle” according to Gordon Brown.
Lord Pym had the innate task of carrying the white man’s burden. Terrorism my dear sister should have accepted her place to be a second-class person in a sectarian hellhole created by her British betters.
Ian Jack prefers to ignore that the IRA have put down their arms, while the British imperialists continue to carry their burden to Iraq, Afghanistan … Yes, they will pursue their righteous cause to the death of the last native with the assistance of their killers in the SAS etc.
Brendan Behan summed it up quite succinctly: “It’s easy to spot the terrorist. He’s the one with the small bomb”.