Colonic News extract: Executions for State 1916 Commemoration in Dublin

Diarmuid Breatnach

The Colonic News, “Hanging Will Do Them Good”

Friday 24th April 2016

The gallows being erected at the O'Connell Street approach to North Earl Street (Photo D.Breatnach)
The gallows being erected at the O’Connell Street approach to North Earl Street
(Photo D.Breatnach)

(extract)………. As part of the Dublin State 1916 Commemoration a gallows has been erected at the approach to North Earl Street. It is understood that there will be ceremonial executions here over the weekend. Those listed to ‘take the drop’ over Easter (not at all to be confused with ‘taking A drop’) are believed to be a Water Charge Protester, a Minister Botherer, a Homeless Person and A Nother. Gardaí have refused to confirm the names prior to informing their families, “Out of humane considerations” said Garda Commissioner Battenum.

The gallows, constructed by Pierrepoint Solutions of London, can accommodate eight condemned people at once, according to the manufacturers, “with a little squeeze.” A number of Moore Street Blockaders had been in line to partake of the hanging also but a recent judicial decision has resulted in their surprise acquittal. Asked about the unexpected turn of events, Minister Humphreys said “chucky poor law” which is understood to be a Monghan Orange dialect variation of the Gaelic or Erse for “Our day will come”.

Rumours abound that Hillary Clinton and President Obama and other White House personnel are to have live footage of the executions beamed to them, in recognition of their interest in such events.

Other high points of the 1916 commemoration will be a reading out of the 1916 editorials of the Irish Times and Independent condemning the Rising and calling for stern punishment for the Rebels and, in the case of the Independent, calling not too subtly for the death penalty for Connolly and Mac Diarmada. Sir Bob Geldoff will read the Times editorial and Diarmaid Ferriter the Independent’s.

The full list of all British personnel killed during the Rising will also be read out and in a special addition which is sure to find favour with everyone, also the names of the Lancers’ horses, previously neglected and unrecognised but campaigned for by historian Ann Matthews for many years now, who makes the point that although they were military, they were working horses. Kevin Myers will read out the British Personnel’s names and Frank McDonald will perform the duty for the horses.

After ‘The Last Post’ has been played by an Irish Army bugler, the ceremony will conclude with the solemn “Je vous prie”, with all dignitaries present going down on one knee and, partly in Irish but wholly in English, begging Her Royal Majesty’s pardon for having risen against her predecessor and any and every vexation given since.  Going down on both knees had been originally scheduled but was since ruled out as being too servile (and in view also of certain words on the nearby monument to Jim Larkin).

The ceremony will be televised in full and, in an exercise of civic involvement, people throughout the country will be encouraged to kneel at the same time and to repeat the words as they are pronounced.

Substantial security steps have been taken to prevent undesirable elements such as citizens attending the events.

Some of the physical security measures -- view north along O'Connell St. from the Spire
Some of the physical security measures — view north along O’Connell St. from the Spire (Photo D.Breatnach)

In separate but related developments, Dublin City Council Executive Own Keegan and Jim Keoghan of the Planning Department have announced

Some of the physical security measures -- view southwards along O'Connell St. from the Spire
Some of the physical security measures — view southwards along O’Connell St. from the Spire (Photo D.Breatnach)

plans for the changing of the North King Street name to “South Staffordshire Street” and the erection of a 1916 commemorative plaque with the words “Nothing happened here in 1916”.

Similarly, in Balbriggan the Development Association has unveiled plans to rename the main street “Auxiliary Boulevarde” in memory of the illuminations carried out by members of the Auxiliary Division on the night of 20th/ 21st September 1920.  A street party will be held to mark the renaming with children’s face-painting (black or red, white and blue colours only, apparently) and dressing up in Auxilliary or RIC-type costumes for photos, ‘Knock-the-Volunteer Over’ ball-throwing etc.  The candy floss and rock stick on sale will be in red, white and blue colours.  All the cooked food will be char-grilled to commemorate the historic events in 1920.

end item

DEAR HEATHER HUMPHREYS

Dear Heather,

I hope this finds you well — although how you could be, with the mob besetting you on all sides, is anyone’s guess. As if you wouldn’t have enough problems already with the economy! Who’d be a politician these days and especially in the year that’s in it? Well, yes, I do know that you get paid for your trouble. But what does the mob expect for their paltry €157,540 per annum? Sure one could never run a decent-sized house with servants and cars and kids going to university on that kind of money (not to mention the holidays you’d need, just to take a break from the mob).

Heather Humhpreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

The truth is, Heather, that the mob have had it in for you from the beginning – they never gave you a chance. First it was that you are not an Irish-speaker. Well! Who needs to be able to speak that dead language anyway (well, nearly dead, and the sooner the better)! Well, yes, ok, the Irish-speaking areas are part of your special responsibility, it’s called “the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht”, it is true, but everyone knows that the “Gaeltacht” just got added on to your Department’s responsibilities because it had to be put somewhere.

However, I do think it was unwise of you, if you don’t me saying this to you as a friend, to put that McHugh in the Gaeltacht job as Minister of State. I know he’s doing his best but darling it’s simply excruciating to listen to him stumbling over his koopla fukal (no, I’m not being rude) in public speeches. Surely there must a Blueshirt somewhere who can speak decent Irish?

Thankfully, with the Arts budget cut so thoroughly by this Government and the previous one, you didn’t have too much to worry about there. But Heritage? Oh dear! You’d think for that, one would just have to stick some cement on crumbling castles and pay some staff to look after some cromlechs or something, wouldn’t you? Or pay for the upkeep of some of those lovely Georgian or Victorian big houses (like the one you sorted out for Enda in his Mayo constituency – no, no, I don’t blame you one bit. Always look out for the boss, I say, if you want him to look after you.)

But a row of dilapidated houses in the city centre next to an untidy and smelly street market! Heritage! God give me strength – and you too, Heather, poor darling. That mob, Heather – fifteen years, going on for sixteen, they’ve been banging away about that. What a pity that Joe O’Reilly (bit of a boor really, but still ….) fell on hard times and couldn’t proceed with the demolition of that whole sorry terrace years ago and save you all this heartache!

Nothing is enough for that mob, nothing! Give them an inch and they’ll be screaming for a mile. First it was a clamour for Joe O’Reilly to put back the State’s 1916 50th anniversary plaque that had fallen off the front of No.16 Moore Street and ended up in his Chartered Land office. Honestly, the hullabaloo! Then it was one house the mob wanted made a monument, then it was four. Then the whole terrace — they’ll want the whole country next!

And just when you were going to have some of the houses demolished, that mob, the worst of them, occupied the buildings and stopped the demolition. What are we coming to? If it were me, Heather, I’ll tell you now, I’d have sent our own SWAT team in right away. You have to be tough with that kind of element, Heather, like your party was back in 1922 and ’23 — and sometimes you’re too soft. Yes, you know you are. Oh, sure, some liberals and Republicans would have kicked up a fuss but those vandals in occupation would have been dead or in jail and the terrace a demolished pile within hours. Let them try and get up a campaign over a pile of rubble!

I wonder whether it was wise to call yourself “a proud Irish republican”, when you were appointed, Heather. You had the job, after all, so why say things like that? It’s not as though your FG colleagues would be expecting it of you and it was, as they say, giving a hostage to fortune. Was it perhaps because you felt a bit insecure, as the only Presbyterian in the Government? Oh, Heather – you should know by now that there’s only one religion in Government, and it’s above even Christianity, never mind its various sects.

I despise the mob as much as you do, Heather but I think you could have thrown them a couple of bones a bit earlier. Buying the four houses from O’Reilly (a million each? Not bad, not bad at all for inner-city run down properties!) at the end of 2015 was obviously going to be too little, too late, with Easter 2016 just around the corner. That might have worked a few years ago but not now. You’d have been better off hanging tough, as our masters across the pond say, and giving them nothing except the back of your hand. Now they’ve got the bit between their teeth, collecting thousands of signatures, marching, picketing, blockading …. and even talking about what kind of a Republic they should have.

Heaven forbid they should ever get the Republic they want for if they do, I’ll be transferring whatever assets I can liquidate and getting out of the country as fast as I can.

But I digress …. What about the elections? Nobody expects the Government to survive, so no point worrying about that. Who will take their place? Well, remember when your party and Labour ousted Fianna Fáil? Election promises aside, it was business as usual afterwards, wasn’t it? It’ll probably be the same this time. Well, let’s hope so, anyway.

And your own Dáil seat? Is it safe? I do worry about that. We must have lunch soon and have a good gossip. The Radisson perhaps? Or better still a trip to Blarney, my treat? Anyway, one wouldn’t want to be around Dublin, of all places, at Easter …. with the year that’s in it.

That’s all for now, best wishes,

Phyllis Stein

Dear Minister Humphreys

Diarmuid Breatnach

Dear Minister Humphreys,

I write to express my admiration for your work and my sympathies with regard to the criticisms with which you are currently being bombarded. I hope you will forgive my ignorance of much of the work you have been doing in the area of Heritage, which is not really where my strengths lie. But I love the way you talk, the way you shoot down those critics, especially those TDs who ask those nasty questions. And I’m sure you had something to do with removing Westport House from the NAMA sell-off, even if it is in Enda’s constituency. Such a fine example of our colonial architectural heritage!

Heather Humhpreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Heather Humhpreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

But as we know, Minister, that wouldn’t be the kind of thing that would be appreciated by your critics. They’d rather you devoted your talents to a shabby row of Dublin houses of dubious architectural importance in a grubby street market. A street which they say is “pre-Famine” — as if that were something to boast about! Laid down earlier than Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street) they say …. Sure why would we want to keep a street that old …. or remember that embarrassing episode in our history either, when we lost a third of our population to over-reliance on one crop! We learned from that, though, didn’t we? Sure we grow hardly any crops at all now and get them all in from abroad. And we live in cities now — who wants to be getting up at 6 a.m. in all kinds of weather and plodding through muck? If people like growing things that much, get a house with a garden, I say. And a gardener to do the donkey work.

Supporters at the symbolic Arms Around Moore Street event organised by the Save Moore Street From Demolition campaign in June this year.
Supporters at the symbolic Arms Around Moore Street event organised by the Save Moore Street From Demolition campaign in June this year. This is the corner of Moore Lane and Henry Place, across which Volunteers had to run under machine-gun and rifle fire from Parnell Street (at the end of Moore Lane, to the right of the photo) and at least one Volunteer died here.

But I’m digressing, Minister, my apologies. Apparently the reason they want to save that shabby terrace, that “pre-Famine street” — and the backyards and surrounding lane-ways, if you please! — is for HISTORICAL reasons. Historical! Sure have we not had enough of history – Brehon Laws, Golden Age, Clontarf, Normans, 800 years of British occupation, blah, blah, blah! Weren’t we sick of it at school?

I’ve never liked Labour too much (somehow even the word sounds sweaty) but I have to admire their Education Ministry’s efforts to remove history as a subject from the compulsory school curriculum. I’m sure they’re doing it for their own reasons – after all, wasn’t their party founded by that communist James Connolly? Sorry, revealing my own knowledge of history there, ha, ha! But whatever their reasons, they are on the right track. Who wants to know where we are coming from? It’s where we ARE and where we are GOING TO, that matters!

But some people just can’t let it go, can they? They trail history around like something unpleasant stuck to a shoe. So what if 300 of the GPO garrison occupied that terrace in 1916? The Rising, if you ask me, was a big mistake and I know plenty of people agree with me, even if most don’t have the courage to say so. Wouldn’t we be much better off if we’d stayed in the UK? And kept the Sterling currency? And as for the War of Independence …. don’t get me started!

Aerial View Moore St. 60s
Aerial view Moore Street, looking northwards, 1960s, before the building of the ILAC and the running down of the street market.

And then there’s all that communist-sounding stuff about treating “all the children of the nation equally” — what kind of rubbish is that? Some are born to big houses with swimming pools and some are born to flats, or even rooms. That’s just the way of life. And some will claw their way up to get to own big houses and if they are a bit uncouth, well that can’t be helped, they still deserve where they get to. And their children at least will be taught how to fit into their new station. That’s democracy! But everyone equal? Please!

Sorry, back to the Moore Street controversy. OK, after the mob pressured the Government, four houses in the street were made a national monument. But was that enough for the mob? Oh, no, not at all — eight years later the State had to buy the four houses to satisfy them. Thankfully the specul ….. sorry, the developer, got back a good return on his investment – four million, wasn’t it? That’s the kind of thing that makes one proud to be Irish – buying run-down buildings and letting them run down more, then selling them for a million each. That’s your entrepreneur! If only we had more like that, to lift this country up!

I must say I really liked that developer’s plan to build a big shopping centre from O’Connell Street into the ILAC, knocking those old houses in Moore Street down (although I know he had to leave those “national monument” four houses still standing in the plans). I do hope whoever has bought the debt off NAMA and now owns those houses will carry on with that plan. Actually, I’d like the whole of O’Connell Street under glass if it were possible. Wouldn’t it be great to do your shopping from the north end of the street to the south and from left to right, without ever having to come out into the weather? Of course, not much shopping there now, with Clery’s closed …. still ….

And then they’re going on about the market ….. traditional street market …. blah, blah. What’s wrong with getting your veg and fruit from the supermarket? Or getting them to deliver it your house, come to that? “Traditional street market” my ar….. excuse me, I got carried away there. Those street markets are all very well for your Continentals, your Africans, Asians, Latin Americans and so on. Or for us to go wandering around in when we’re abroad on holiday, maybe.  But back home?  It’s the nice clean supermarkets for me any day.

Well now, if the mob insists on saving the street market, here’s an idea: why not provide a showcase stall or barrow, stacked with clean vegetables and polished fruit, right in the middle of the new shopping centre. After all, that’s heritage, isn’t it? And aren’t yourself the Minister for Heritage?

Most sincerely,

Phillis Tine-Fumblytil

NUDGE, NUDGE

Facebook (FB): John Browne has nudged you.

Mary: What do you mean “nudged”?

FB: Just nudged. Nudge him back.

Mary: Why?

FB: Well, it’s fun. ‘Nudge, nudge’, you know.

Mary: I don’t ….

FB: Besides it’s only polite.

Mary: Are you sure he ‘nudged’ me?

FB: Oh, absolutely.

Mary: But why would he do that?

FB: Perhaps being playful?

Mary: He’s never struck me as the playful or frivolous type.

FB: Perhaps he wants to ….. you know …..

Mary: What? Have sex with me?

FB: Well, yes. Lots of romances have bloomed between people who met on Facebook.

Mary: Probably a few kidnappings and rape too, I shouldn’t wonder.

FB: We can’t possibly be held responsible for ….

Mary: Oh, please! Spare me the official disclaimer! But do you really think John Brown might be trying to seduce me?

FB: Well, maybe … probably … yes. Why are you laughing hysterically?

Mary: He’s gay! He’s been “out” for ten years! He’s been living with a male partner for three years .. He announced just last week that they broke it off actually.

FB: Well, there you go.

Mary: What? “There you go” what?

FB: He broke up with his partner last week and this week he’s nudging you.

Mary: But he’s gay!

FB: Gay men have been known to convert …. revert … whatever.

Mary: Only in Christian evangelist imagination.

FB: Well, perhaps he’s bisexual.

Mary: He’s not.

FB: How do you know?

Mary: He’s always been quite clear about that. Besides ….

FB: What?

Mary: He didn’t nudge me.

FB: Yes he did.

Mary: No he didn’t.

FB: How can you be so sure?

Mary: He told me.

FB: When? You haven’t been messaging him.

Mary: I texted him just now on my mobile.

FB: Oh ……… He’s lying.

Mary: It could be you that’s lying.

FB: Why would I lie about that?

Mary: Well, to increase traffic on FB. I nudge him, he nudges me, we start additional conversations, other people start nudging …. etc. etc. More FB traffic, more interest from advertisers, more money for you.

FB: ……………….

Mary: Well?

FB: Patrick Smith poked you.

Mary: What! WHAT did you say?

FB: No, no! Poked …. as in …. as in … kind of like “nudged”.

Mary: Oh, for Heaven’s sake! You’re trying it on again!

FB: ………….

Mary: Well, aren’t you?

FB: Well, yes. Would you like to play one of the FB games?

Mary: You mean like pretend I did something I didn’t, lie to my FB friends and generally up traffic on FB?

FB: There’s no need for sarcasm.

Mary: Oh, just ….! Good night!

FB: No, wait a mome …

CATHERINE BYRNE, DUBLIN FINE GAEL TD, SAID “WE SHOULD TAKE BACK OUR FLAG”. MAYBE SHE’S RIGHT ….

CATHERINE BYRNE, DUBLIN TD, SAID “WE SHOULD TAKE BACK OUR FLAG”. MAYBE SHE’S RIGHT ….

 

Dublin South-Central TD Catherine Byrne was warmly applauded when she said that they should ”take back our flag” from people who have been using it in protests against water charges and other issues.  She made the statement at the Fine Gael political party’s two-day conference in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, held under strict security.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys supported that view and told delegates in a secret session on the 1916 commemorations (a session which exposed divisions in the party): ”Some have used our flag to portray a different message – it’s time to reclaim our flag.”

They are both right, in a way.

Listen to this:

JE NE SUIS PAS CHARLIE (YO NO SOY CHARLIE)

José Antonio Gutiérrez D

Parto aclarando antes que nada, que considero una atrocidad el ataque a las oficinas de la revista satírica Charlie Hebdo en París y que no creo que, en ninguna circunstancia, sea justificable convertir a un periodista, por dudosa que sea su calidad profesional, en un objetivo militar. Lo mismo es válido en Francia, como lo es en Colombia o en Palestina.

Tampoco me identifico con ningún fundamentalismo, ni cristiano, ni judío, ni musulmán ni tampoco con el bobo-secularismo afrancesado, que erige a la sagrada “République” en una diosa.

Hago estas aclaraciones necesarias pues, por más que insistan los gurús de la alta política que en Europa vivimos en una “democracia ejemplar” con “grandes libertades”, sabemos que el Gran Hermano nos vigila y que cualquier discurso que se salga del libreto es castigado duramente.

Pero no creo que censurar el ataque en contra deCharlie Hebdo sea sinónimo de celebrar una revista que es, fundamentalmente, un monumento a la intolerancia, al racismo y a la arrogancia colonial. 

Miles de personas, comprensiblemente afectadas por este atentado, han circulado mensajes en francés diciendo “Je Suis Charlie” (Yo soy Charlie), como si este mensaje fuera el último grito en la defensa de la libertad. Pues bien, yo no soy Charlie.

No me identifico con la representación degradante y “caricaturesca” que hace del mundo islámico, en plena época de la llamada “Guerra contra el Terrorismo”, con toda la carga racista y colonialista que esto conlleva. No puedo ver con buena cara esa constante agresión simbólica que tiene como contrapartida una agresión física y real, mediante los bombardeos y ocupaciones militares a países pertenecientes a este horizonte cultural.

Tampoco puedo ver con buenos ojos estas caricaturas y sus textos ofensivos, cuando los árabes son uno de los sectores más marginados, empobrecidos y explotados de la sociedad francesa, que han recibido históricamente un trato brutal: no se me olvida que en el metro de París, a comienzos de los ‘60, la policía masacró a palos a 200 argelinos por demandar el fin de la ocupación francesa de su país, que ya había dejado un saldo estimado de un millón de “incivilizados” árabes muertos.

No se trata de inocentes caricaturas hechas por libre pensadores, sino que se trata de mensajes, producidos desde los medios de comunicación de masas (si, aunque pose de alternativo Charlie Hebdo pertenece a los medios de masas), cargados de estereotipos y odios, que refuerzan un discurso que entiende a los árabes como bárbaros a los cuales hay que contener, desarraigar, controlar, reprimir, oprimir y exterminar. Mensajes cuyo propósito implícito es justificar las invasiones a países del Oriente Medio así como las múltiples intervenciones y bombardeos que desde Occidente se orquestan en la defensa del nuevo reparto imperial. El actor español Willy Toledo decía, en una declaración polémica -por apenas evidenciar lo obvio-, que “Occidente mata todos los días. Sin ruido”. Y eso es lo que Charlie y su humor negro ocultan bajo la forma de la sátira.

No me olvido de la carátula del N°1099 de Charlie Hebdo, en la cual se trivializaba la masacre de más de mil egipcios por una brutal dictadura militar, que tiene el beneplácito de Francia y de EEUU, mediante una portada que dice algo así como “Matanza en Egipto. El Corán es una mierda: no detiene las balas”. La caricatura era la de un hombre musulmán acribillado, mientras trataba de protegerse con el Corán.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon referring to the attack on Egyptian protesters in which 1,000 were killed.
Charlie Hebdo cartoon referring to the attack on Egyptian protesters in which 1,000 were killed.

Habrá a quien le parezca esto gracioso. También, en su época, colonos ingleses en Tierra del Fuego creían que era gracioso posar en fotografías junto a los indígenas que habian “cazado”, con amplias sonrisas, carabina en mano, y con el pie encima del cadáver sanguinolento aún caliente.

En vez de graciosa, esa caricatura me parece violenta y colonial, un abuso de la tan ficticia como manoseada libertad de prensa occidental. ¿Qué ocurriría si yo hiciera ahora una revista cuya portada tuviera el siguiente lema: “Matanza en París. Charlie Hebdo es una mierda: no detiene las balas” e hiciera una caricatura del fallecido Jean Cabut acribillado con una copia de la revista en sus manos? Claro que sería un escándalo: la vida de un francés es sagrada. La de un egipcio (o la de un palestino, iraquí, sirio, etc.) es material “humorístico”. Por eso no soy Charlie, pues para mí la vida de cada uno de esos egipcios acribillados es tan sagrada como la de cualquiera de esos caricaturistas hoy asesinados. 

Ya sabemos que viene de aquí para allá: habrá discursos de defender la libertad de prensa por parte de los mismos países que en 1999 dieron la bendición al bombardeo de la OTAN, en Belgrado, de la estación de TV pública serbia por llamarla “el ministerio de mentiras”; que callaron cuando Israel bombardeo en Beirut la estación de TV Al-Manar en el 2006; que callan los asesinatos de periodistas críticos colombianos y palestinos. Luego de la hermosa retórica pro-libertad, vendrá la acción liberticida: más macartismo dizque “anti-terrorismo”, más intervenciones coloniales, más restricciones a esas “garantías democráticas” en vías de extinción, y por supuesto, más racismo.

Europa se consume en una espiral de odio xenófobo, de islamofobia, de anti-semitismo (los palestinos son semitas, de hecho) y este ambiente se hace cada vez más irrespirable. Los musulmanes ya son los judíos en la Europa del siglo XXI, y los partidos neo-nazis se están haciendo nuevamente respetables 80 años después gracias a este repugnante sentimiento. Por todo esto, pese a la repulsión que me causan los ataques de París, Je ne suis pas Charlie.

Sobre el autor: José Antonio Gutiérrez D. es militante libertario residente en Irlanda, donde participa en los movimientos de solidaridad con América Latina y Colombia, colaborador de la revista CEPA (Colombia) y El Ciudadano (Chile), así como del sitio web internacional www.anarkismo.net.  Autor de “Problemas e Possibilidades do Anarquismo” (en portugués, Faisca ed., 2011) y coordinador del libro “Orígenes Libertarios del Primero de Mayo en América Latina” (Quimantú ed. 2010). 

JE NE SUIS PAS CHARLIE (I AM NOT CHARLIE)

By José Antonio Gutiérrez Dantón / Friday 9 January 2015 (translated from the original in Castillian)

 

To begin with, let me make it clear from the outset that I consider the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to be an atrocity and that I do not believe that it is justifiable under any circumstances to make a military target of a journalist, no matter what our opinion on the quality of his journalism may be. The same is valid in France, as it is in Colombia or in Palestine.

Also, nor do I identify with any fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Jewish or Muslim, nor indeed with Frenchified mock-secularism either, which makes a goddess of the “République”.

I present these necessary explanations since no matter how much the high priests of politics insist that we live under an “exemplary democracy” with “great liberties”, we all know that Big Brother is watching us and that any speech outside the script is severely punished. But I believe that to condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo is not the same as celebrating a magazine that is, fundamentally, a monument to intolerance, racism and colonial arrogance.

I cannot view with equanimity the constant symbolic aggression that has as its counterpart a physical and real aggression, which is the bombing and military occupation of countries belonging to this cultural horizon. Nor can I happily these cartoons and their offensive texts with a light heart, when Arabs are one of the most marginalized, impoverished and exploited sectors of French society which has historically been brutally treated.

I do not forget that in the early 1960s, in the Paris Metro, the police massacred 200 Algerians by clubbing, just because the latter were demanding an end to the French occupation of their country, which had already led to a total of a million dead “uncivilized” Arabs.

This is not about innocent cartoons drawn by free thinkers but rather about messages produced by mass media (yes, though in an alternative posture, Chalie Hebdo is part of the mass media), loaded with hatred and stereotypes reinforcing a discourse that considers the Arabs as barbarians to be contained, uprooted, controlled, represed, oppressed and exterminated. These are messages the implicit purpose of which is to justify the invasions of Middle Eastern countries as well as the many interventions and bombings orchestrated in the West in defence of the new imperial map. The Spanish film actor Willy Toledo controversially commented, no more than was obvious, that “The West kills every day. Silently.” And that is what Charlie and his black humour hides under the cover of satire.

I do not forget the front cover of Charlie Hebdo issue N°1099, in which it trivialized the massacre of more than a thousand Egyptians by a brutal military dictatorship which has the approval of the USA and of France, carrying a cartoon with a text declaring “Slaughter in Egypt. The Koran is shit: it doesnt stop bullets.” The cartoon showed a Muslim man riddled with bullets that had passed through a copy of the Koran, with which he had been trying to protect himself. Perhaps some find this funny. In their time too, the English colonists in Tierra del Fuego, Argentinia, thought it funny to have photographs of themselves taken, with wide smiles and rifle in hand, a foot on the corpses of the still-warm and bleeding bodies of the native people they had hunted.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon referring to the attack on Egyptian protesters in which 1,000 were killed.
Charlie Hebdo cartoon referring to the attack on Egyptian protesters in which 1,000 were killed.  Juxtaposed, an imaginary cartoon treating the attack on Charlie Hepdo in a similar manner.

Rather than funny, that cartoon to me seems violent and colonialist, an abuse of the fictitious and manipulated western freedom of the press. How would people react if I were to design a magazine cover bearing the following text: “Slaughter in Paris. Charlie Hebdo is shit: it doesn’t stop bullets” and made a cartoon of the deceased and gunned-down Jean Cabut holding a copy of the magazine in his hands? Clearly that would be outrageous: the life of a Frenchman is sacred. The life of an Egyptian (or Palestinian, Iraqi, a Syrian, etc.) is “humoristic” material. For that reason I am not Charlie, because for me, the life of each one of those Egyptians pestered is as sacred as is any of those caricaturists assassinated today.

We already know what to expect now: there will be speeches defending press freedom from countries which in 1999 gave their blessing to the NATO bombing of the Serbian public TV station in Belgrade, calling it “the Ministry of Lies”; countries that remained silent while Israel bombed the Al-Manar TV station in Beirut in 2006; those that respond with silence to the murders of Colombian and Palestinian critical journalists.

After the beautiful pro-freedom rhetoric will come the liberticide action: more McCarthyism, disguised colonial “anti-terrorism”, more colonial interventions, more restrictions of those “democratic guarantees” threatened with extinction and, of course, more racism.

Europe is consumed in a spiral of xenophobic hatred, islamophobia, anti-semitism (in fact, the Palestinians are Semitic) and this atmosphere has reached unbearable levels. The Muslims are already the Jews of 21st Century Europe and neo-Nazi parties are becoming respectable again, 80 years later, thanks to this detestable feeling.

Because of all this, in spite of the feelings of repulsion engendered in me by the Paris attack, Je ne suis pas Charlie.

Note on author:
José Antonio Gutiérrez D. is a libertarian political activist living in Ireland, where he participates in the movements of solidarity with Latin America and with Colombia, a contributor to the CEPA (Colombia) magazine and to El Ciudadano (Chile), and also to the international web page  www.anarkismo.net.  He is author of  “Problemas e Possibilidades do Anarquismo” (in Portuguese, Faisca ed., 2011) and coordinator of the book “Orígenes Libertarios del Primero de Mayo en América Latina” (Quimantú ed. 2010). 

A CHRISTMAS STORY (with the participant’s own stories)

Diarmuid Breatnach (with initial contribution from another Breatnach)

(Extracts from interviews reprinted variously by kind permission of The Palestinian Prophet, Judean Eye, Jerusalem Sentinel and The Samaritan Times)

The Shepherd’s story:

“Hey, man, we’d just settled the sheep down and were settling down ourselves, chilling out with a bong before sleep, you know? Then there was this light in the sky, and a bloody heavenly choir of angels, I swear to God!

“No, man, we weren’t tripping; the bloody sheep all woke and wouldn’t go back to sleep. So in the end, we couldn’t get any sleep either, what with strange light in the sky, angels singing, and sheep baa-ing. So we went down into town, and that’s where we found the Travellers, with their newborn baby.

“We didn’t have anything to give them except a draw or two and we didn’t know whether they were into that, so we brought along a lamb for the grown-ups’ dinner.

“They said the baby was a King, and him in a stable! Well we didn’t like to contradict them or anything, so we played along with it. And while we were there, didn’t this caravan come by with these three old geezers, who said they were looking for the baby King! Yeah, that was kind of strange, all right.”

Mary’s story:

“It was before my first wuz born. That Gaybriel, he came to tell me I was going to be pregnant – didn’t he Joseph?”

“Yes, dear, so you told me”.

“Yeah, he minces in out of nowhere, appears in my Mum’s living room, and tells me I’m going to have a baby! And I hadn’t even been with a man, had I Joseph?”

“No dear. So you …. No dear.”

“So when I was near my time – I was huge by then, you know – we had to go off to Jerusalem. It was a long journey and I was knackered and so was poor Joseph. I said to him, I said ‘Joseph, you’ve got to sit your arse down somewhere warm, and so have I.’ So Joseph went and asked in a few bed and breakfast places, but they was all full. Wasn’t they, Joseph?

I said, Joseph, they was all full, wasn’t they?

“Yes, Mary, they was all full”.

“So after a while, someone let us stay in his stable! Well, it was warmer than outside, and it was great to sit down, but the straw was scratchy, you know what I mean? Well we wasn’t there more than half an hour when me waters broke. I started to cry, and I said to Joseph: ‘Our first child is going to be born in a stable; what kind of a start is that in life for a child?’ I was really upset you know. So that was where he was born. And they called him names is school years later, like ‘Donkey’, and ‘Stable Boy” – didn’t they, Joseph?”

“Yes, Mary, they did”.

The Wise Men’s from the East story:

Balthazar: “We had met up, the three of us, at the previous year’s Annual Conference of the AWM … Oh, you don’t know? That’s our association, the Association for Wise Men! You’ve heard of us, of course? No? How peculiar! Where did you say you were from?

“Anyway, we had met up, and we’d had such a great time together, that we arranged to meet up again. And when we did, we were discussing this interesting prophesy, about a sign in the heavens, and the birth of a King, etc., and then what should we see but this strange star in the night sky. So we decided that could be it and we should at least go and see. So we packed up our camels and horses, hired some help, and set off.

“It was weeks later when we came to this little town, Bethlehem the locals called it, and eventually tracked the couple and newborn baby down, and there they were. Well they looked quite grubby, you know, and in a stable, too!”

Melchior: “It wasn’t the most hygienic place to have a baby, and hardly appropriate for the birth of a King. But that was where the star brought us to, and there was already a crowd of shepherds in there paying him homage. So we discussed it in private, and decided that this must be the King whose birth would be predicted by a sign in the heavens, and we gave him our presents.”

“What presents? Oh, frankiscence and myhrr, that kind of stuff.”

Gaspar: “And gold, of course – so they could pay for some proper lodgings.”

Balthazar: “Herod? King Herod Antipas? Yes of course we’ve heard of him. Met him? No, never.”

Melchior: “No, not on the way to Bethlehem nor anywhere else.”

Gaspar: “Sorry, but are you crazy? We didn’t meet him or any other kings – we try to stay well away from them … and from Roman Consuls too!”

Joseph’s story:

“Well, I was getting on and I’d missed out on all the eligible women except for Mary and she was out of my class, if you know what I mean. I didn’t have a chance with her.

“But then she got pregnant and whoever it was didn’t stay around. So I jumped at the chance, of course I did. I even made up a story about being visited by an angel and all that, so as to match hers. Well, I didn’t want them saying she was a slut, you know? Or later, that Jesus was a bastard. Yes, Jesus, that’s my boy. Bad enough them calling him ‘Donkey Boy’ or ‘Barn Boy’ or ‘Hayborn’ … People can be very cruel – even children.

“Well we had to go to my home town Bethlehem to register for the census since Caesar Augustus decreed it. It was bloody cold and the town was full, except for the luxury suites and I’m just a carpenter. I mean, it’s a good trade but doesn’t pay for luxuries.

“Anyway, we got the stable for what they call a “cut rate” (‘cut-throat rate’ would be more like it) and then her waters broke and she had the baby right there. Well from that moment on, there wasn’t a moment’s peace, what with an angelic choir somewhere, smelly shepherds crowding in, wise men, curious passers-by …. We were glad to get our registration over with and be back on the road, I can tell you.

“The baby? Jesus, my foster-son. He’s a good boy but a bit dreamy. I can’t seem to get him interested in my trade. I do worry about him – I don’t know what will become of him when he grows up, honest. His mother says he has her crucified.”

 

Herod’s story:Herod engraving

“Oh please! Not that old ridiculous slander and libel again! Slaughtering the babies, indeed. Wasn’t it Jehovah himself who did that to Pharaoh’s people? No, no I never – why would I?

“Because of a prediction he’d be King of the Jews? Oh, puleeeeze! Nearly every fucking village in Judea has someone in it they’re predicting will be a King. If I went around slaughtering the children in every village we’d soon have no population in Judea – and, more to the point, no taxes. Not for me OR for Rome.

“Wise men? I never meet any, not in my court anyway. Wily, cunning, even clever, yes …. but wise? No. Well, maybe that’s a definition of wise men: men who make sure not to meet me. Heh, heh, heh!”

 

The Donkey’s story:

“It got to be a very crowded in that stable.”

Donkey

The Cow’s story:

“Mmmmmm! Yes, it did – but warmer too, except when the door kept being opened as more people arrived. Mmmmmm!”

The lamb’s story:

“I didn’t like leaving my maaaaammy. And I thought I heard one of the shepherds mention kish kebaaaaab.”

The dog’s story:

“I really objected to being turfed out of the manger”.

Ends