Monthly Archives: February 2020

advanced course lesson 12 Wordsworth

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advanced course lesson 12

WORDSWORTH

William Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth in 1770. The town of Cockermouth lies in the Lake District. The Lake District is in the middle of the United Kingdom. In this poverty stricken region of idyllic countryside Wordsworth spent his childhood. The land at first appearance is of desolate aspect. The hills are mostly bare but for coarse bushes, gorse and broom. Scree and corries litter the hillsides and escarpments. The soil is thin and its provender is meagre. The luckless swains who ply for a living here often find the culture of the soil yields precious little. They tend to tend sheep. Among shepherds and shepherdesses William took inspiration as he passed his youth.

Though most people in the region were impoverished peasantry the Wordsworth family was well off. William’s father was a well to do solicitor. William has one sister Dorothy and he had three brothers. Happily all five lived to adulthood which was no foregone conclusion in the 18th century. He was very close to his sister. But relations with his brothers were sometimes frigid. William sometimes went to stay with his maternal grandparents in the fair shire of York. But he and they were not in sympathy. When William was 7 his father passed away.

After a desultory schooling William went to St John’s College, Cambridge. His brothers were also educated at this university. William was very fast at his books. He had read deeply of Greece and Rome. He had little inclination for matters mathematical or scientific. After 4 years he graduated.

The French Revolution had just occurred. Youth was in ferment. William was animated by this revolutionary fervour the same as so many youths of a passionate stripe. He crossed the foam to Gaul. Ere long he fell in love with a young Frenchwoman Annette Vallon. In 1792 his funds were running low. Relations between Britain and France turned sour. There was a distinct possibility of a war between the two. After a few months he sailed back to the British Island. Then he discovered that Annette was carrying his child. The baby was born in 1792. He could not see his daughter for several years.

William later wrote of being in France in 1791: bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/ But to be young was very heaven.

Wordsworth became part of the Romantic Movement. This was an artistic and intellectual movement in the late 18th century and the early 19th century. This is not about ‘romantic’ in the sense of the love of a man for a woman. It was about sentimentality and the celebration of the natural world. The classic paradigm is that of wilderness. Romantics preferred the untamed undergrowth and trees to a manicured garden. They believe in letting things go to do what they will. They intuited that mankind is born good. By contrast the traditionalists at the time believe that the inborn nature of mankind was wicked and needed to be kept in check.

The romantics tended to be politically radical. They were fired by zeal for the French Revolution. They also were usually against organised religion. The romantics correctly perceived the established churches as being bedfellows of the reaction. Some of them were not just against churches but were against Christianity per se. Wordsworth did not adhere to the romantic cause on the religious issue. He remained a member of the Church of England.

The poems of Wordsworth are noted for their simplicity. He eschewed a highfalutin vocabulary. Poets of the previous movement – the Augustan poets – bore their erudition heavily. They strove to pack their verses with references to classical mythology and Latinisms. This sort of elitism displeased much of the Romantic Movement.

In time Wordsworth married. His marriage was blessed with a race of children.

The subjects of Wordsworth’s poems were often the landscape of his native Lake District. He also wrote about the plain people of this region.

This is one of Wordsworth’s most widely appreciated poems

I wandered lonely as a cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed- and gazed- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils

 

As Wordsworth grew older he began his cultural retreat. He become more conservative. In time he advocated for the Tory cause. He had always been a communicant of the Church of England. In his dotage his faith became fervent.

The Poet Laureate is the official poet of the United Kingdom. It is the supreme honour which may be conferred upon a composer of verses. In old age Wordsworth was offered this exalted title. He accepted without demure.

As Wordsworth was conscious that the grave lay not far ahead he cast his mind back to his childhood. He composed The Prelude as in these poems were about the prelude to his adulthood.

Here is an excerpt from The Prelude

 

One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cove, its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in
Pushed from the shore
.It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure
nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move
 on;

Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light.
 But now, like one who rows,
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge
,

The horizon’s utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky
.

She was an elfin pinnacelustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;

When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon’s bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Upreared its head
. I struck and struck again,
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me.
 With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;

There in her mooring-place I left my bark, –
And through the meadows homeward went, in grave
And serious mood
but after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o’er my thoughts
There hung a darkness
, call it solitude
Or blank desertion.
 No familiar shapes
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields
;

But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams

In 1850 Wordsworth died.

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  1. In which year was Wordsworth born?
  2. In which land was he born?
  3. What was his Christian name?
  4. What profession did his father follow?
  5. Which university did he attend?
  6. What was his religion?
  7. Which foreign land did he visit in the 1790s?
  8. What happened between him and Annette?
  9. What intellectual movement was he part of?
  10. What is the poem about his childhood?
  11.  Did he take a wife?
  12. What exalted title was he given when he was old?
  13.  When did he die?
  14.  Name a poem by him?
  15. What do you think of him? Five sentences

 

 

advanced course 11 Lord Byron

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advanced course 11

LORD BYRON

George Gordon Byron was born at London in 1788.  By a happy augury his natal year was a century after the nativity of Alexander Pope. Lord Byron’s father was from an aristocratic English family. His mother was a well got Scotswoman. Through his female parent George Gordon Byron was descended from James I King of Scots. The parents had an acrimonious relationship and split up when Byron was a toddler. His father was a swashbuckling admiral known as ‘Mad Jack’. His grandfather was another dashing naval officer who had been known as ‘foul weather Byron’. Both were indomitable spirits though lacking in sensibility. The Byron family had been prominent in northern England for two centuries. A Lord Byron had fought for the king during the English Civil War.

Byron was taken to North Britain by his mother. He was enrolled in Aberdeen Grammar School. There he learnt the rudiments of Latin and Greek. When he was 10 his father died. The boy inherited the title Lord Byron.  He had been born with a gammy right foot. This prevented him being a great athlete on the field except in cricket. That is because cricket only involves a small amount of running.

At the age of 12 Lord Byron entered Harrow School. It was the second most famous school in the British Empire. Harrow was then considered to be in the County of Middlesex just north of London. However, Harrow is now well within the confines of London. Byron was only considered middling clever. He was no great shakes at cricket but oddly he represented the school during the first ever Lord’s Match. That is when Harrow played its arch rival Eton at John Lord’s Cricket Ground. At school he had a number of friendships which were of a Ganymede nature.

After school he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge. This is the most illustrious college in Cambridge University. His lordship was a late bloomer. He began to pen verse. He did not devote himself to study in a concerted manner. He passed his time in games and drinking.

Upon coming down from Cambridge the noble lord decided to go on the Grand Tour. The Napoleonic Wars were still raging. Therefore the continent was closed to Britons – the attractive countries that is. That is because these lands were in French hands. If a Britisher went there he would be interned.

The Grand Tour was an extended holiday British upper class young men liked to take in the 18th century.  It was to round off their education. This was through France, Italy and Greece. These youths would go at the age of 18 or 21 typically. The aim was to soak up the culture.  They had been learning of the glories of France, Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece for years. Finally it was a chance to see the remnants of these civilisations. These youngsters would practice their French and Italian and even sometimes Germany. Occasionally these gilded youths would bend their footsteps to Switzerland. In reality the boys traveled overland by horse drawn coach. They would visit museums and art galleries. The young men would go to ancient ruins. The very venturesome would wend their way to the Levant.

Byron sailed to the Mediterranean. He visited Greece and was instantly smitten. It was in Ottoman hands and therefore out of the reach of the French. He went to Istanbul and swam the Hellespont like Leander.

Upon his return to the British Isles he was inspired by his peregrinations to turn his hand to poesy. He wrote The Pilgrimage of Child Harolde. It was semi-autobiographical. As the protagonist sets sail from the United Kingdom he says ‘adieu, adieu my native shore.’ Pilgrimage of Child Harolde was a tremendous publishing sensation. Byron recalled, ‘one morning I woke up and found myself famous.’

Later Byron wrote Don Juan. It is his longest poem. The name Juan is a Spanish one. In this poem it is pronounced ‘JOO un’ for the sake of scansion.

In his 20s Byron embarked on a number of romantic relationships with women. Some suspected him of an immoral relationship with his step-sister. He had an affair with Lady Lamb. Her epithet stuck to him: ‘he is mad, bad and dangerous to know.‘ Did she have carnal knowledge of him? His lordship had some liaisons with married women.

So many of his poems were dedicated to wooing women. Here is one:

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

 

Lord Byron was disillusioned with the war against France. Like many Whigs he believed a negotiated peace was the best solution. However, he celebrated the Battle of Waterloo with a poem about it. It is entitled The Eve of Waterloo. In it he mentions a ‘car’ but at that time this meant a horse drawn carriage.

Once the Napoleonic Wars were over Lord Byron went to Switzerland and Italy. In Switzerland he wrote The Prisoner of Chillon. It is about a man chained up in a dungeon on an island in the middle of a Swiss lake. Whilst in Switzerland Byron had his own physician with him Dr Polidori. His noble lordship swam in lakes for exercise. When he was in Switzerland he spent time with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Shelley’s teenage paramour Mary. Mary was then writing Frankenstein.

Italy was a country that Byron found very appealing. The noble lord liked to swim in the sea there. He was most attracted to its females. He published a poem ‘Italy versus England’ weighing the pros and cons of two. He liked the Italian language ‘soft bastard Latin’ as he called it. He wrote about what he liked and disliked in England such as taxes and free speech. He quipped ‘I wish our present glories were not owing to the Tories.’

In his late 20s he felt his youth was leaving him. He wrote

So, we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.

 

As Byron turned 30 he reflected on mortality. He wrote a poem On this day I complete my 30th year.

Byron became a close friend of many of the prominent versifiers of his epoch. He was a dear friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley. He was also a bosom friend of John Keats and of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Lord Byron was entitled to sit in the House of Lords there since he turned 21. He delivered a few orations. His lordship was in the Whig Party. He was a man of advanced views. However, he was not exactly a revolutionary like most of his friends. Byron was an outspoken advocate of equality for Catholics. He maintained that the Union was bad for Ireland.

His lordship married and had a daughter. His only legitimate child was named Ada. She became the mother of computing. Ada later married Earl Lovelace so she became Countess Lovelace.

Byron was in Italy when Shelley’s boat sank in the Tyrrhenian Sea in 1822. Lord Byron was present when Shelley was to be cremated on the beach at Viareggio as per the regulations. Byron could not bring himself to observe the scene and retired to the coach.

Whilst in Italy Byron met Armenians. He became enthralled by them. He learnt their language and translated some of their works into English. He vindicated their cause against the Ottomans. He heard of the Greek uprising against the Ottomans. Greece was then part of the Ottoman Empire.

Lord Byron took ship for Greece. There he helped the Greek insurgents. They came to regard him as an apostle of liberty. The Tory Government in London was inclined to side with the Ottomans. The British Government did not like rebellions against sovereign states. It had wish to be embroiled in another conflict so soon after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Moreover, the Tories saw the Ottoman Empire as a vital counterweight to Russia. London was worried that the Russians had designs on the Ottoman Empire. If the Russian Bear took back Constantinople (Istanbul) then Russia would have access to the Mediterranean. The UK did not want her mastery of the Mediterranean challenged.

Lord Byron hired dozens of men as soldiers. Greece was then poverty stricken. There were many calls upon the Briton’s generosity. He was very wealthy man. Lord Byron found himself besieged by beggars. He was frustrated that the rebel factions would not work together despite him beseeching them to do so.  Some rebel doyens seemed more concerned about their own aggrandisement and petty local squabbles. Lord Byron grew a little disappointed. Some of those he fought beside were little better than brigands. Turks massacred Greek civilians on suspicion of them abetting the rebels. Greeks massacred Turkish civilians in reprisal. Byron saved a Turkish little girl and brought her up as his own.

Whilst in Greece Byron had a relationship with a shepherd who was much younger than him. This would now be regarded as unacceptable and indeed illegal.

At Missolonghi in Greece Byron fell ill and died.  He was 36. He was mourned all across Greece. Byron had drawn attention to the Greek struggle for emancipation. The sympathy he garnered for the Greek national movement helped Greece to cast off the galling shackle of the Grand Turk.

Byron’s corpse was returned to the UK. He is interred at the family seat. There are many places in honour of him particularly in Greece. His daughter Ada went on to marry Earl Lovelace.  She became the Countless of Lovelace. Ada was a mathematical prodigy. Countess Lovelace did a lot of the spadework on early computer.

The poet is now an adjective: byronic.

===================

  1. When was Byron born?
  2.  In which country?
  3. What was his father called?
  4. Where was his mother from?
  5.  Which king was his ancestor?
  6.  What was his first school?
  7.  His second?
  8. Did he wed?
  9. What was his daughter called?
  10. Which university did he attend?
  11.  What was his disability?
  12. What did he do for exercise?
  13. What epithet was used of him?
  14. What was his literary form?
  15. What was the Grand Tour? Five marks
  16. Where did he swim that Leander had also swum?
  17. What did he think of Greek independence?
  18. Where did he die?
  19.  Name a poem by him?
  20.  What is your opinion of him? Five marks

 

Cult of homosexuality and transgenderism

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The cult of homosexual privilege and the transgender fallacy

 

I am not anti-gay. Nor do I feel obligated to encourage same sex relationships. If people go on gay pride marches then it is no skin off my snout.

Homosexuality always has existed and always shall. There are gays in every country. There is homosexuality among hundreds of species in the Animal Kingdom. Same sex attraction is instinctive among some people.

Since the 1960s most Western countries have decriminalized homosexual acts. There was a lot of anti-gay prejudice even in advanced Western countries until perhaps twenty years ago.

Gay people being treated decently is the hallmark of a civilized society. No right thinking person can want to persecute a man for his inborn nature. A gay person is harming no one by having a consensual liaison with another man.

I have plenty gay friends. I reside in London which is one of the most gay friendly cities on the planet. I attended Oxford which has long been the most homosexual university in the world. I have no objection to gay relationships, gay nightclubs, gay porn or gay prostitution. I have even had a drink in a gay pub.

In Western countries people have gone beyond asking for equality for the gay community. Look at the United Kingdom in particular. Rainbow flags are flow on governmental edifices. Why does the government go out of its way to celebrate homosexuality? This is preposterous. People often ask why the government does not make such a strenuous effort to valourise heterosexuality? We are often told that straights have it our own way 364 days a year. What is the straight pride flag anyway? As there is none I have my own ideas for how governments can celebrate opposite sex attraction. Why not demand secretaries at government offices were their hottest office wear such as mini skirts, stilletoes and semi-translucent blouses with a wondebra underneath? The government could pay for me to go to a lapdancing bar!

So many people wear rainbow badges even if they are straight. This pharisaical behaviour is distasteful. If you really want to support gay people you could donate money to a charity or carry out some practical work. Donning a badge is just virtue signaling. But it is de rigeur in the public sector. It helps civil servants and politicians climb the greasy pole.

If a teenager announces that he is gay then he is praised to the moon. This has been going on for years. Teachers will laud him. I am so happy for you – I am so proud of you. If a girl declares that she is a lesbian then she will be heaped with similar commendations.

Youngsters may be inclined to announced themselves as homosexual in self-understanding. That is because they wish to gain approbation. Further, they might come to genuinely believe that it is superior. Homosexuality is en vogue.

One of my pupils years ago sang along to Katie Perry’s song ‘I kissed a girl and I liked it’. She then boasted that she had done likewise. ‘Katie Perry is very popular. If I say I am a lesbian then I will be popular too.’ That seems to have been the thought process. Same sex attraction is en vogue.

Think of all these politically correct people jumping on the bandwagon. Cast your mind back to the early 1970s. The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was founded in a few anglophone countries. GLF existed in the United States, UK, Canada and Australia. People who went on GLF marches in the 1970s really were brave. There was a great deal of hostility towards them. Anti-gay asperity led to these people being sacked. Think of all those conformists these days who are johnnie come lately to the gay cause. Where were they in the dark days of the 1970s? Some of them were old enough to have participated in the gay cause in the 70s.

There is a hissy fit if someone says LGB. You have to say LGBT or is it LGBTQ. The latest inanity is the claim that a person can change gender just by saying that he or she is such and such a gender.

Your gender is in your DNA in every cell in your body. Gender (or sex) is decided the moment that the two gametes fuse. A person’s sex is determinable by objective criteria.

It is true that there are very rare cases of people being hermaphrodites or intersex. These cases are perhaps 1 in 100 000. I feel deeply sorry for these people. I recognize that they face genuine difficulties. There might be other people – a male for instance – who does not wish to be a man. He might wish to be a woman. But that does not make him one. His desire to be female would have been regarded as a mental illness till not so long ago. I realise that gender reassignment is possible. I find this matter deeply unpleasant. It is not something that society should encourage.

Because a handful of people are of indeterminate sex the PC movement has pretended that a person’s sex is not certain. They suggest that a human can change gender at will. If a woman claims that she is a man then we must all immediately accept this.

The transgender movement is lunacy. If a man says he is a woman then he is laboring under a delusion. This delusion should be dismissed and not embraced by society.

If I say I am king that does not make me king. I cannot expect the rest of society to immediately fall into line and address me as Your Majesty.

I am dead. As I write this I am already dead. I died 100 years ago. If I say that I am deceased then I am. You are obliged to accept it. I breathe, my heart beats and I have all the signs of life. But if I say that I am dead then you are compelled to acknowledge it. It is a nice way to be tax exempt. Do you see how ludicrous the so-called logic of transgenderism is?

There have always been transvestites. Some men who derived an erotic thrill from dressing as women. I find this behaviour bizarre and unsettling. But these men usually acknowledged that they were male and they dressed as males most of the time. Something has gone wrong when significant numbers of people are genuinely confused about their sex.

There is a headmistress well known to me who described a curious situation at her school. It was an all girls’ Catholic school. A 14 year old pupil decided that she was not female. She claimed to be a boy. Because of the contemporary daft atmosphere the school accepted the girl’s fallacious claim to be a boy. The child demanded uniform modification and received it. She was a boarder and wanted her own room away from girls lest girls see her non-existent male body. Again, she was indulged in this bogus claim. The girl’s mother supported her daughter’s false beliefs and insisted that the school accede to the child’s whims. The girl would then decide that she really was a girl again and switch back to normal. After a couple of weeks she would decide to be a boy once more. And back and forth and back and forth.

What was the girl’s mother by profession? Troublingly, she was a psychiatrist. If a doctor cannot tell male from female she should be struck off. Being male or female is not a matter of opinion or preference. It is a fact. This is something which is verifiable.

Twenty years ago this girl would have been told not to be plain silly. She is a girl and will be happy with that. Such nonsense would not have been entertained. It was attention seeking to a large degree. After a fortnight she would have grown out of this play acting.

We have arrived at an Emperor’s new clothes situations. The doctors, judges, politicians, opinion formers and bien pensant experts cannot distinguish male from female. Anyone who tells the plain truth is deemed to be unfit for the position which he holds. A toddler can tell you who is a girl and who is a boy. But a doctor cannot!

Anyone who does not fully subscribe to radical LGBTQ demands is howled down. Such a person is likely to be subjected to a spate of insults. In the United Kingdom in particular someone who is not on board with the transgender fallacy is likely to be de-platformed in many fora. At university a student who tells the plain truth about gender will face sanctions which may extend to being sent down. An academic who expresses the truth does so at the risk of her career. The sanctimony around the transgender lie is worrying. People who propound this falsehood are fired by a frightening and insensate moral certitude. This fills them with an intolerant missionary zeal. This is why they wish to oblige others to evangelise for the transgender cause and we end up see rainbow flags on buses and trains.

In fairness there are foul bigots who disseminate odium against homosexuals. However, it is preposterous to equate someone who says that a male is a male with someone who is a homophobe.

Cyprus false rape allegation case

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The Cyprus false rape accusation case

One of the few things worse than rape is false accusing people of rape. This crime risks sending innocent men to prison for decades and it does a huge disservice to rape victims. It wastes police time which could have been spent on deterring and detecting crime. It is a grave affront to justice.  This is the Me Too Movement on steroids. It is a very woke moment. Every sacred principle of justice and sovereignty is trampled into the mire by the rampaging herd of ultra feminists and British hyper nationalists.

A British woman was recently convicted in Cyprus of making bogus accusations of rape. She has been awarded the very mild sentence of one year and a fine of £1 500. I would have given her ten years in prison. She is a dangerous criminal and deserves no sympathy whatsoever. This foul and fiendish felon should be fettered in a fetid dungeon. Bravo to Cyprus for having the moral courage to take a stand against this disgusting crime.

In July 2018 this woman was on holiday on the paradisical Mediterranean island. She met some Israeli tourists. She then saw fit to level baseless allegations at 12 young men. The suspects were arrested and interrogated. There was no case to answer. Her luckless victims were set at liberty. They returned home. This woman was then questioned about her allegations which she entirely retracted. Quite rightly she was prosecuted. From arrest to conviction took five months. Her trial was not rushed and she had a defence counsel. The sentence handed down by the bench is very, very mild indeed considering that she would have had 12 blameless men sent to prison and branded as sex criminals for the rest of their lives.

The woman who has been convicted has not had her name revealed. Why not? We have a right to know who has been found guilty of a crime. What happened to open justice? Males need to know to avoid this person. Do not spend any time with this woman lest she accuse you of rape. A key plank of the defence was that she had bruises on her. Even if she had bruises on her these do not need to be related to any sexual activity. These contusions could have been sustained before or after any sexual encounter. Even if she was bruised doing an erotic episode this could have been consensual if she chose to engage in rough trade.

There is a most literature about how this person is depressed. Not many people are elated about going to the clink! Her unhappiness is proof of sanity. They say she might commit suicide in prison. If she is really mentally ill she would kill herself outside of prison too. In prison she can be on suicide watch. This argument is novel. No one can ever be sent to a penitentiary because she might kill herself whilst there. Open the prison gates! Let every scumbag out because otherwise they might not be cheerful. This is what passes for a coherent argument among feminists.

There is an outcry among ultra-feminists because justice has been done. They take the side of the criminal against her victims. This is victim blaming by ultra feminists. They are outraged that right has prevailed. They are sickened that a perjurer has had her comeuppance. They would prefer to see totally innocent males incarcerated.

In the United Kingdom a campaign has been launched to interfere in Cyprus’ judicial system. Political meddling in the justice system is outrageous. But when one country attempts to stick its nose into that of another country it really is beyond the pale.

The UK is still a member of the EU. Cyprus is a member of the EU. We are so often told that all EU member states have judicial systems of the most unimpeachable integrity. The European Convention on Human Rights supposedly guarantees liberty to all citizens of European countries. If it does not then why do so many people say that it is the palladium of freedom?  It is leftists and liberals who fetishise the ECHR. Yet all of a sudden it counts for nothing.

The United Kingdom must not stick its oar in with regard to this case. It would be quite improper for London to presume to pressurize Nicosia on this issue. The British have absolutely no right to do so. So no to such bullying. So much for EU solidarity! So much for Commonwealth solidarity! These institutions are supposed to be grounded on mutual respect and non-interference in domestic matters.

Some knuckle draggers have appealed to chauvinism as a reason to take this side of the criminal. I should not support a Briton in doing wrong just because I am a Briton. That would be in the highest degree preposterous. Likewise it would be utterly moronic and illogical to take the side of a male who has committed a grave offence simply because I am male. This is not a case of the United Kingdom versus Cyprus. Because the evidence and logic is absolutely clear in favour of the prosecution some closed minded bigots have tried to frame it as the UK v Cyprus. The have no recourse to reason. That is why they resort to narrow minded nationalism and partisanship.

Some of the criminal’s admirers are talking about a boycott of Cyprus. I passed a most agreeable week in Cyprus last year. Because of the pro-perjury campaign I am inclined to revisit Cyprus. Tourism is vital to the Cypriot economy. Britishers are the main tourist nationality. There is an attempt to wreck the much put upon Cypriot economy.

If you have any doubts about the judicial process that can all be resolved by an appellate court in Cyprus. After the Cypriot Supreme Court it could be sent to to the European Court of Human Rights.

Public opinion must have no effect whatsoever on the case. Even if every single person in Britain takes her side that does not make her innocent or indeed guilty. Even if every person in the UK was against her that would not make her guilty or innocent. This is not a popularity contest. Nor indeed is it an unpopularity contest. The jury decided. The law must be guarded from the passions of a baying and ignorant mob. I am mindful of what the Roman said in days of old: fiat Justitia ruat caelum – let justice be done though the sky should fall. Brave little Cyprus is going to stand up to the bigots and the bullies. I salute the Cypriot people in their valiant struggle.

Whatever happened to the separation of powers? The three branches of the state must all keep within their appointed limits. It is totally wrong for politicians to intrude into the judicial sphere. Judicial activism is unacceptable. So why is the reverse permitted?

The demagogues who impugn the reputation of Cyprus are swine. How dare these gargoyles insult the good name of the Republic of Cyprus!

Let us not forget the innocent victims of this felony. The feminist bigots and the British chauvinists do not feel sorry for the anguish of these unfortunate men. These men may suffer for the rest of their lives from their traumatic experience. My heart goes out to them.

I stand with Cyprus! I stand for justice!

British Nazis

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British Nazis

Many Britons like to sneer at Germany and other continental countries for having had Nazi or fascist governments. However, the United Kingdom also had fascist tendencies which spread far beyond the British Union of Fascists. It is high time that people in the United Kingdom faced up to the considerable support for fascism that existed at all levels of British society. Such support was that of a minority but not a tiny one.

 

Early 1920s

 

Immediately after the First World War there were several fascist groupsucles. As Henry Hemming wrote fascism seemed to be ‘conservatism with knobs on.’ British fascism at first eschewed the socialist rhetoric that was found in continental fascist movements.

 

The BUF

 

A one time Tory and then a Labour MP Sir Oswald Mosley was a man of the most exceptional talents. Tall, athletic, debonair with matinee movie idol looks this former army officer and champion fencer was blessed with a magnificent oratorical ability. Yet by the 1930s his vociferation was anti-Jewish and anti-democratic. Mosley founded his own political party – the British Union of Fascists. He later appended ‘a and National Socialists’ to its name. Yet it was known as the BUF and not the BUFNS.

Sir Oswald was a welcome guest at many a country house weekend. As a baronet educated at Winchester and Sandhurst he had impeccable establishment credentials.

Mosley’s Blackshirts stomped around chanting ‘We are going to get rid of the Yids’. Their anti-Semitic bile alarmed many people.

Establishment support

 

The BUF enjoyed considerable admiration from a segment of the British upper class. Unfortunately, the British Isles, particularly England, has a long and despicable history of anti-Semitism. That is not to say that most Englishmen were ever anti-Semitic. However, there was a considerable number of people who were virulently anti-Semitic and the 1930s was no exception. England was one of the first European countries to expel the Jewish community in 1290. Prior to that several large scale pogroms occurred in England.

Edward VIII’s fascist tendencies are amply documented. In 2016 footage emerged of the king encouraging his niece Elizabeth II to give the sieg heil salute when she was a little girl. In Edward VIII’s autobiography ‘A King’s Story’ he expatiated on his loathing for democracy. When Edward VIII was king he attended the Trooping of the Colour that June. For the first and last time a speech was made at this military parade. The king spoke of his love of peace and assured his hearers that a soldier’s peacetime service was every iota as glorious as wartime service. The monarch may have been actuated by an entirely laudable desire to maintain peace. But there could be a less morally uplifting motive that actuated him: that he was an ardent Nazi.

You might believe that at least Churchill was a day one abominator of fascism. You would be dead wrong. We often read of Churchill being a contmner of Mussolini and recognizing him for the poltroon that he was. Yet in Winston Churchill went to Italy in the 1920s to address a fascist rally. He was effusive about Benito Amilcare Mussolini ‘he is a great lawgiver.’ He assured the blackshirts ‘If I were an Italian I would be amongst you.’

Winston Churchill also spoke approvingly of Hitler at times. In his book Great Contemporaries he waxed lyrical about Der Fuhrer.

The Marquess of Tweedsmuir was another virulent anti-Semite. He is better known as the author John Buchan. Buchan’s Judeophobia did not stop him being elevated to the peerage and indeed appointed Governor-General of Canada.

The Conservative Party had more than a flirtation with fascism. You might assume that Liberals would have no truck with fascism since it is the antithesis of their philosophy. Once again you would be laboring under a misapprehension if you believed that. David Lloyd George, the former Liberal Prime Minister, spent the 1930s publicly expressing his approval of Nazism.

There were a number of white supremacist groups in the UK besides the BUF. Among them were the British People’s Party, the Right Club, the Nordic League and the Anglo-German Friendship League.

The Duke of Hamilton was a member of the Anglo-German Friendship League. Small wonder that Rudolf Hess came to visit him in 1941 with a view to concluding peace with the British Empire.

John Amery, son of a Tory cabinet minister, was an outspoken supporter of Hitler. He went to Spain to fight for the Nationalists.  After the war he stood trial for high treason. After instantly pleading guilty he was sentenced to hang. He was an odd bod by never diagnosed as mentally ill. Nonetheless his brother the Conservative MP Leo Amery contrived to save his brother with the bogus excuse of John Amery suffering from derangement of mind. It did not work and Amery was treated to an appointment with Albert Pierrepoint.

The Marquess of Londonderry was a lynchpin of the fascist establishment in the British Isles. He was an ardent appeaser of the Third Reich. This was not out of a perhaps misguided desire to avoid war. That could have been honourable. It was owing to a deep seated admiration for the Third Reich.

Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons. She was also a zealous advocate of giving the Third Reich everything it wanted.

Edward VIII was an avid fan of Nazism. He passed secrets to Berlin in 1936. His paramour Mrs Simpson was said to be the bedfellow of Joachim Ribbentrop who at that time was the German ambassador to the Court of St James. The king’s passionate Nazism was so perturbing that the establishment had to engineer and excuse to give him the heave-ho. He obliged them by his harebrained scheme to marry a twice divorced commoner who appeared to be barren. Once the Duke of Windsor wed where was his first foreign trip? He visited the Third Reich where he was received with every consideration. The Nazi Party could not have been happier to have him as their guest. The duke and duchess even visited  concentration camp!

 

Cordiality with Italy

Through the 1920s Italian troops committed several major massacres in Libya. The news of these crimes against humanity in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica reached the ears of the British forces in Egypt. London chose to keep shtum on the issue. Why upset our Italian friends over something as petty as the lives of several thousand Bedouin?

Long after Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy the UK strove to maintain an alliance with Italy. In 1935 the United Kingdom formed the Stresa Front with Fascist Italy and France. Though the Italian Army was armed with weapons half a century old, the Italian Air Force was puny the Italian Navy was formidable. The Royal Navy was chary about testing its mettle against the Italians in the Mediterranean. When it came to the Battle of Cape Taranto it is said that British only won due to radar.

If fascism was so objectionable in principle why one earth London take such pains to be an ally of Italy? In October 1935 Italy invaded Abyssinia. This was despite Italy and Abyssinia both being members of the League of Nations. International disputes were supposed to be resolved via the League. Italy treated the League as literally irrelevant to this issue. London did not take firm action against Rome for this flagrant violation of the covenant of the League. Moreover, Italy was a signatory of the Kellogg-Briand Pact i.e. it has explicitly renounced war as an instrument of policy. After generously offering Mussolini two-thirds of Abyssinia (an offer he rebuffed) the UK eventually recognized Italian jurisdiction over the whole of Abyssinia as lawful.

During the war

Once the Second World War began fascist activity in the United Kingdom did not cease. The BUF was not banned until 1940. In a sense it is admirable that the UK afforded civil liberty to even the worst of its citizens even in wartime. However, there came a moment when self-preservation obligated His Majesty’s Government to abridge liberty temporarily.

All through the war there were attempts to negotiate peace with the Third Reich. To some extent this is laudable since ending the war would have saved millions of lives on all sides. The Duke of Hamilton was one of those British peers who published a letter in a newspaper calling for a parley with Berlin in 1940. As there seemed to be little chance of ever defeating the Third Reich there was a compelling logic to his case. Without the Soviet Union the UK would never have beaten the Third Reich – not in a 100 years. In the end the British contributed only 5% of the forces fighting the Third Reich.

However, some of the bids to reach an accommodation were not actuated by humanitarianism. Some of the crypto-fascist circles that had frolicked with the Nazis in the 1930s were unseemly in their eagerness to be helpful to the Nazis even in the 1940s.

The Duke of Windsor (the sometime King Edward VIII) was actively pro-Nazi even during the conflict. He was a staff officer in Paris in 1940 and passed on secret intelligence to the Third Reich. Anyone else would have been hanged with this. But snobbery being what it is he escaped with a ticking off. As Allied defences crumbled other Britishers fled to the English Channel. He was the only one who headed to the south. After dithering the duke and duchess crossed into Franco’s Spain where they were received with the greatest possible consideration. His Royal Highness eventually shifted to Portugal. There he remained in contact with agents of the Reich. The duke requested that his property on la Cote d’Azure named Chateau de la Croe be safeguarded from burglary and vandalism. The Germans were only to happy to oblige. They posted soldiers around the walls and assured the duke that his property would not be injured. For once Hitler was as good as his word. He wished to remain in the good graces of the erstwhile king. The ex-king could prove more than useful to the National Socialist cause.

The former Edward VIII was later dispatched to the Bahamas as Governor-General. The one time monarch had absorbed the negrophobic attitudes that were commonplace amongst his race in that epoch. HRH scorned the country as ‘a very third rate colony.’ The Duke of Windsor cheered himself up by befriending a Swedish multimillionaire named Axel Wenner-Gren. Wenner-Gren was a red hot Nazi despite being from a neutral country. Wenner-Gren acted as a go between for the duke and the Third Reich.

British intelligence was in touch with anti-Nazi resistance in Germany during the war. Those who were in contact with London tended to be Germans of the upper class and aristocratic type. These men heartily agreed with Hitler on certain issues. But if they were to overthrow him and make peace with the West what concessions would the West offer? These plotters wanted to win over waverers in Germany. What would the British say to convince neutrals in Germany that ousting the Nazis was the best way forward? The German resistance wanted to retain western Poland and all of Czechia. Adam von Trott zu Solz is often held up as a shining example of an enlightened German who gallantly resisted the National Socialists. But this Rhodes scholar also insisted on retaining the eastern domains conquered in 1938-39. Even Germans of moderate opinion tended to deny the legitimacy of Poland and Czechoslovakia.

There was some correspondence between the royal family and Germany during the war that was highly embarrassing. Anthony Blunt was sent to retrieve it in 1945.

At the end of the war the United Kingdom was very eager to see Mussolini summarily executed. This did not happen to any leading German. Why was the UK so adamant that Benito Amilcare be killed straightaway? It is surmised that London had been in secret contact with him at some point during the war offering him the chance to continue his fascist regime in return for becoming neutral. The British found this acutely embarrassing and wanted to silence Mussolini before he could spill the beans.

After the war

Some Nazi war criminals found safe havens in the United Kingdom. Others founds comfortable berths in dominions such as South Africa.

In 1955 NATO decided that the Federal Republic of Germany must have its army restored. NATO propagated the myth of the clean Wehrmacht. That is to say that the Wehrmacht had a good war record. It was pretended that the Wehrmacht had fought ethically – only slaying combatants in combat and not killing them after surrender. The numerous huge scale massacres perpetrated by the Wehrmacht were laid at the feet of the SS. To be sure the SS committed countless large-scale atrocities. However, the Wehrmacht was also culpable.

Conclusion

Nothing in this article should be construed as implying that most British people were Nazis or close to it. However, a considerable minority has sympathies in a Nazi direction. This was especially so amongst the upper orders.

Black and Tans were freedom fighters

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The Black and Tans were freedom fighters

The Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve is commonly know by the opprobrious soubriquet the Black and Tans. This title has to mention that nickname since the proper name of this body of men is not widely recognized. RICSR is much maligned. A century of contumely has been poured on this force. There is much disinformation abroad about RICSR. It is high time that the record be set straight.

Some people will be enraged that anyone should ask reasonable questions about accusations levelled at the RICSR. Raising doubts about contentious topics will caused many Irish republicans to throw a temper tantrum. That the RICSR were villains is an article of faith for them. Any rehabilitation of these much-maligned men however nuanced is unacceptable to them. Many people have deeply entrenched prejudices on this issue. They have made an emotional investment in a certain viewpoint. It becomes part of an identity. Casting aspersions on the name of the RICSR somehow demonstrates one’s patriotic credentials. A balanced and objective analysis of history is not what partisan people want to read. Fury is no substitute for logic and a dispassionate examination of the truth.

It was an Irish journalist William Howard Russell who acerbically observed ‘the first casualty of war is truth.’ Spot on! During the Irish Troubles of 1916-21 the republican movement considered besmirching the reputation of the Crown Forces to be a key objective. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) had its own propaganda department. It was patently adept in its role. The republican movement denied the many large-scale atrocities committed by the German Army in Belgium. Yet when it came to Ireland’s own police force the IRA was only too eager to demonise it. Assassination of the body was accompanied by assassination of the character.

The Crown Forces were doing what any security force is entirely legally entitled to do: quell a revolt. Ireland was lawfully UK sovereign territory. No sovereign state disputed that. The UK had been recognized as the United Kingdom of Great Britain AND IRELAND by every other sovereign state. Ireland was part of the UK due to the decision of our own Irish Parliament. At every election since 1800 almost every MP elected wanted to stay part of the UK albeit under a Home Rule arrangement in many cases. One election when Sinn Fein did well by huge scale fraud and intimidation did not change that. There was an is no right of secession under the UK constitution. A state has the right to maintain its territorial integrity as international courts have attested on numerous occasions. The IRA was there to oppress people. The Crown Forces were there to guarantee freedom of expression, fair trials, free elections, trade and security of person and property.

In 1919 an irregular conflict was started by the IRA killing two Irish police officers at Soloheadbeg. The ostensible objective of the IRA was to steal some gelignite that the officers were guarding. Dan Breen could not get his story straight. Was it to steal the explosives or to kill the men? If it was the former then this mission was an ignominious failure since the IRA abandoned the stolen gelignite only a mile away. You will not find that part of it mentioned in any republican account of this escapade. The IRA proceeded to tyrannise and terrorise.

The IRA started plundering houses, burning down buildings of all sorts, issuing death threats, meeting out savage beatings, slaughtering civilians and suchlike. The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) did its best to combat the crime wave. The RIC were assassinated in significant numbers. Some of those shot were wounded not killed. The RIC also suffered attrition from people reaching retirement age and men dying through natural causes. By 1920 Ireland was perhaps the most perilous place on earth for a police officer. As you might expect very few men were volunteering for the RIC.

We are often exposed to panegyrics to the IRA. They appear to have been actuated by the worthiest of motives and never mere loot in such flattering accounts.

The IRA had killed so many officers and cowed so many people that the RIC was unable to function as an ordinary police forces in many counties. The RIC’s role became primarily counterinsurgent in about half of Ireland.

IRA violence was not as ubiquitous as you might imagine. Of Ireland’s 32 counties there were a couple of counties in which not a single RIC officer was killed.

Because of the paucity of police officers in Ireland it was needful to make up the shortfall from elsewhere. There were always a few non-Irish officers in the RIC. It was decided to form the RIC Special Reserve. The aim was to make up for the shortage of manpower in the RIC. The government advertised for former soldiers, sailors and airmen to enlist in the RIC. So soon after the end of the First World War Great Britain had a couple of million demobilized servicemen who had not yet found work. Because there was so much joblessness many men applied.

The government was frank with applicants that their task in Ireland was to combat the IRA and that this was hazardous in the extreme. The volunteers were rushed through training. They would not perform many normal police duties such as dealing with cattle rustling or finding lost children. In March 1920 the first RIC Special Reserve officers arrived in Ireland. They had to operate like gendarmerie.

The lie has long been abroad that the RICSR were the dregs of prisons. As policemen they were barred from joining if they had a criminal record. This is a flagrant and provable lie: that the RICSR was full of criminals or indeed had any members at all with a criminal record. The fact that republican propaganda makes so much of propagating this lie casts grave doubt on their veracity on other more tendentious questions.

The IRA were deeply worried about these reinforcements for the RIC. All these RIC Special Reserve men had combat experienced. They might not be as much of a pushover as the regular RIC most of whom had never been in combat until the IRA attacked. The IRA was therefore hellbent on besmirching the reputation of the RIC Special Reserve. The regular RIC was fairly popular until 1916. Thereafter there was some animus towards the RIC from republican minded people. If the RIC Special Reserve was something towards which the man in the street felt indifferent or even sympathetic then the conflict would be more difficult for the IRA.

The IRA did not adore their enemy. That is hardly surprising. They worked hard to destroy their enemy physically and in reputation. That wanted to create a stigma about serving in RICSR.

Within weeks of the RIC Special Reserve arriving in Ireland a Limerick comedian had dubbed them the black and tans after a local pack of hounds. The drollery stuck. These men were clad in a mélange of the bottle green uniforms of the RIC and khaki uniforms left over from the British Army. The RICSR was supposed to plug the gaps in the regular RIC. It did not work very well. The regular RIC officers had served for decades in many cases. They had their way of doing things. They were Irish and knew the locality and in some cases the Irish language. The RICSR were ex-soldiers mostly and few had any policing experience. They were most English, Scots and Welsh and very few spoke Irish. They were overwhelmingly Protestant which caused some animus. They were not au fait with the RIC way of doing things. They were handsomely remunerated which caused resentment among RIC officers who had served their whole careers on lower pay.

Lurid tales were told about savage act supposedly committed by the RICSR. One of these had them capturing several men and cutting off the tongue of one and various body parts of others. This fanciful story was retailed in the British House of Commons. But no corroborative testimony was ever evinced. Where did this happen? When? To whom? The victims would easily be identified if they existed. A lie is half-way around the world before the truth has got its pants on. Once people have a certain notion embedded in their minds it is very difficult to dislodge it. Many have developed a strong and emotive attachment to the idea that the RICSR was fiendish and sadistic. No amount of reason or evidence can disabuse certain persons of this misapprehension.

Tom Barry was the commandant of the West Cork flying column of the IRA. He was a thorn in the flesh of the Crown Forces and outfoxed them frequently. It would be had to find a more prejudiced source. He was briefly chief of staff of the IRA in the late 1930s. Barry wrote in his memoir Guerrilla Days in Ireland that the RICSR used to drive around West Cork and take pot shots at civilians. They tried to scare people but occasionally shot them dead. Barry does not cite a single name, a single date or a single location where this occurred. He lived in Cork his entire life and knew it like the back of his hand. Yet his statement despite lacking any supporting detail is simply accepted as Gospel truth. He also mentioned two incidents in which named men Fr Magner and a young Mr Crowley were killed by the RICSR. These were not random shootings from the back of a lorry. The deaths of two civilians is of course tragic. An RICSR officers was convicted for the murder of the priest. But killing two civilians is not the massive reign of terror by the RICSR that people seem to think pertained in West Cork at the time.

The RIC Special Reserve was not universally loathed as the IRA would have you think. Even among the Catholic majority there were people who were favourably disposed towards the RICSR. Some of these men had Irish girlfriends and indeed wed Irishwomen. Yet we are led to believe that the RICSR was virulently hibernophobic. The celebrated barrister George Carman QC was the progeny of a marriage between and RICSR officer and a Catholic Irishwoman.

The RICSR had to engage in some duties which necessarily caused friction between them and the general public. No one likes being stopped at a roadblock and questioned. No one like having his house searched. People do not like being subject to curfew. But a counterinsurgency necessitates all these methods. It was the IRA who initiated the conflict. None of these disagreeable things would have occurred had the IRA not done so. This unpleasantness was a consequence and not a cause of the conflict. The RICSR did not always carry out these disagreeable duties with tact and courtesy.

In Ireland we enjoyed liberty while the RICSR was there. There were pro-IRA protests and the Crown Forces did not interfere. The IRA were allowed to hold elaborate funerals for their men and these functioned as shows of strength. A remotely oppressive regime would not have stood for this. The GAA was allowed to play its matches despite it being IRA-linked. The GAA was secretly controlled by the Irish Republican Brotherhood as the GAA says on its own website. Many people in the GAA were simply there for sport. However, GAA matches and practices were sometimes used as a cover for IRA meetings. The free press flourished in in 1919-21.  There were certain restrictions in that the First World War was not definitely over until the Treaty of Sevres was founded in 1920. The newspapers were not allowed to publish militarily sensitive information even in 1921 since that would assist IRA attacks. The only attacks on the free press were from the IRA. We know about wrongdoing by the Crown Forces only because the newspapers were free to report such matters.

Contrariwise those who spoke up for the Crown faced condign punishment at the hands of the IRA. It was far riskier to be known to be a unionist in IRA dominated areas than to be known to be a republican in areas where the king’s writ still ran.

The Auxiliaries of the RIC came to Ireland in July 1920. These men were also recruited from overseas chiefly Great Britain but also places as far afield as Canada. They were all officers who had received field promotion in the Great War. The Auxiliaries – known as Auxies – operated in large independent units. That is to say they did not try to fit in with the regular RIC which the RIC Special Reserve tried to with mixed results. The Auxies were often confused with the RICSR. The demeaning term ‘black and tan’ was often used inaccurately to include the Auxies. The Auxies carried out two of the appalling actions committed by the Crown Forces in 1920. That is to say shooting dead 14 people at Croke Park Stadium and burning down Patrick Street in my home town, Cork.

The RICSR mostly operated in areas of high IRA activity. In these zones the IRA had considerable support – perhaps majority support – from the populace. Some people were armchair supporters of the IRA. Others were active in giving succour to the IRA. Certain peopled carried the means of life, ammunition and mail for the IRA. In this wise they acted as the commissariat of the IRA. As in a regular conflict a force would attempt to destroy the enemy’s communications and convoys so too an irregular conflict.  A few people acted as the intelligence department of the IRA. Giving aid and comfort to the king’s enemies in time of war was high treason and punishable by death. The Special Reserve sometimes found arms or a wanted man secreted in a civilian house. The Special Reserve therefore gave the occupants time to remove their chattels before burning it. By the standards of irregular conflict especially in 1920 this was very mild indeed. In other countries huge numbers of people were killed for far less. You might totally disapprove of upholding the unity of the United Kingdom. But leave aside your political inclination for a minute. If you had commanded a counterinsurgent force under suchlike circumstances would you not have ordered houses to be burnt if they had been used to store weapons on enemies on the run?

1922-23 the Irish Free State fought against the IRA. The Free State employed all the methods that the Crown Forces did and a few more besides. The Free State was much harsher on the IRA. No one doubts that at Oriel House, Dublin in particular the Free State used outright torture on a considerable scale. IRA men were allowed to die on hunger strike. Oddly we do not hear Irish republicans lamenting those hunger strikers. We do not read so many moist tales of the suffering visited upon the IRA by the Irish Government? Why not? Racism. It is sheer. Anglophobia. If an Irishman does it then it is acceptable. If an Englishman does even half that then it is not.

The Crown Forces held over 20 000 IRA prisoners at one stage. In the 1919-21 conflict only 24 of them were executed. This is very, very lenient indeed. 99.99% of IRA men captured by the Crown Forces were not put to death. The IRA’s rate of killing Crown Forces members it captured was far higher.

There are a few stories of members of the RIC Special Reserve mistreating prisoners. It would not be surprising if a few of these are true. Police around the world routinely beat up those suspected of serious crimes in the 1920s. In Ireland this was going on in the Garda Siochana in the 1970s with the heavy gang.

There were occasions when the RICSR shot a man shortly after capture. The IRA remembered this with bitterness and said this man was summarily executed and that that is murder. The RICSR often explained that this man tried to make a run for it or tried to grab a weapon. Republicans often dismiss these claims out of hand. How do we know such accounts to be fallacious? The IRA often escaped. IRA men often published boastful accounts of hair’s breadth escapes. As for grabbing weapons in Ernie O’Malley’s The Singing Flame he suggested doing just that just after capture in 1922.

The RIC were police officers and supposed to uphold the law. They did not always do so. But killing a prisoner without just cause was illegal. It was also stupid. The RIC needed information from a prisoner. Dead men tell no tales. Killing prisoners creates a scandal. It also makes the enemy more likely to fight to the death. Why surrender if you will get a bullet through the brain? If you fight on you have a slim chance of survival. Even if you get killed you have the satisfaction of knowing you will take a few enemy with you.

People who have commented on my articles have often thought it disgraceful that someone with an Irish surname should have the temerity to question republican mythology. I am not simply someone with an Irish surname. I am Irish. It is right that Irish people should scrutinize the nationalist narrative that they have been fed for so long.

It is right to pay tribute to the men of the RICSR. I do homage to their gallantry and skill. They battled against a determined and ruthless enemy. The RICSR demonstrated heroism in more than a few engagements. The IRA found it necessary to calumniate their foe precisely because the RICSR achieved a fair degree of success.

One has to be realistic. The conduct of an armed force in an irregular conflict is not going to be inculpable. The behaviour of the RICSR is not above criticism. The men of this force are often held to an impossibly high standard.

Contrast the conduct of the RICSR with other forces battling insurgencies at around the same time. Leave aside political preference for a moment. In the Russian Civil War armies battled partisans on both sides. The Green Army, the Black Army and all sorts of nationalists fought in various quarters of the former Tsarist Empire. In Morocco the Spaniards and the French fought against the Rifs. In the Ottoman Empire the Arab Revolt and the Armenian Dashnak fought against the Sublime Porte. In China warlords fought the central government. In Mexico the Civil War had raged until 1916. In the Philippines the United States had suppressed a struggle for independence. In Serbia the Austro-Hungarians fought against Serbs fighting a guerrilla campaign. In Finland a civil war was in full swing. The list could go on. If you compare the behaviour of the RICSR with the conduct of counter-insurgent forces in any conflict you care to mention the conduct of the RICSR comes out better. Yes, there were felonies committed by a small number of police officers in Ireland. However, the scale and the severity of the wrongdoing is much less than was the norm. This is not what aboutery. Wrongful actions by police officers are always a serious matter. My point is that in the context of an irregular conflict such things always occur. Relative to the conflict in which the RICSR was engaged its behaviour was on the whole commendable.

Nevertheless, discipline was a serious problem in the RICSR. All of these men were veterans of the First World War. Many of them will have suffered from what we would now recognize as post traumatic stress disorder. Some of them must have suffered tics and flashbacks at a time prior to medical science understanding their condition. Their erratic and sometimes alarming behaviour will in some cases be attributable to this. The senior officers tried to uphold discipline. A few RICSR men were sent to prison for crimes committed in Ireland. Dozens of men were dismissed from the RICSR during its brief existence and hundreds of others suffered lesser penalties such as stoppage of pay. It was very difficult to conduct a trial in Ireland in 1920-21. The IRA was determined to destroy the system of justice. Judges were in danger of being assassinated. Witnesses could not testify against the IRA. Witnesses could easily testify against the Crown Forces because of death threats from the IRA.

The IRA might say it was the United Kingdom’s fault for getting into the First World War in the first instance. This moronic line of unreasoning does not do well for the republican cause. Republicans would have us believe that Ireland was also a belligerent in that war but on the side of the Central Powers. In 1916 the IRA started a conflict in Ireland which had been peaceful for half a century. The IRA started to kill their fellow Irishmen and their fellow Britons: men of the RIC and the British Army. The mythical Irish Republic in 1916 was on the German side. So if it was wrong of the UK to get into that war it was also wrong of the ‘Irish Republic’ to do likewise. If the Irish Republic really was a party to the Great War then we lost because we were pro-German. When the United States entered the war in 1917 then Ireland became neutral according to Sinn Fein. With a typical illogic Sinn Fein asked for a place at Versailles despite also saying that we were a neutral country. As the republican movement is so self-contradictory, so irrational and dishonest it is difficult to credit anything else they say.

 

Not every allegation levelled at RICSR is bogus. There are numerous allegations of theft. I have read claims of an RICSR pointing a gun at a barman and demanding that the man fill his glass with beer. It cannot be proven whether this occurred or not. Even if it did that was one man among several thousand. Clearly armed robbery is reprehensible particularly from a policeman.

Some said that these men were drunk on duty. Looking 100 years in arrear this claim is unfalsifiable. The RIC often went around in lorries singing raucously. This may have been to keep morale up, to demonstrate their sang-froid or simply for glee. But this may have produced the impression that these men were in a crapulous state. To drink on duty is totally against regulations for a police officer. Quite apart from that being inebriated when on duty in a conflict zone is downright dangerous. These men had to keep their wits about them. They needed to have good hand eye coordination because there could be a firefight any time. Being inebriated was a death sentence.

Not a single allegation of rape was made against the RICSR. Rape is a crime that is invariably committed by young men. The RICSR were all young men and were away from their wives and girlfriends. As the RICSR were several thousand strong you might have expected that at least a handful of them would have committed this most detestable crime. But none did. This therefore suggests that the RICSR was better than most armed forces in a conflict situation.

There was severe wrongdoing committed by the Auxiliaries and occasionally the British Army. A very small number of civilians were killed. Every civilian death is regrettable. Security forces should strive to avoid collateral damage. However, it cannot always be obviated even in a regular conflict. Since the IRA operated out of uniform they put the civilian population at risk. Presumably this was partly so the Crown Forces would accidentally kill civilians and thereby make themselves unpopular. The IRA also operated in densely populated areas where civilians were bound to be slain in the crossfire. It was the IRA that repeatedly and deliberately jeopardized civilians.

The RICSR sometimes shot civilians for failing to halt. Why? They had roadblocks and if someone failed to halt they would assume this person was on the run or about to pull a gun. At night these shootings were more common. The RICSR came under fire almost every day. They were understandably jumpy. They were wont to shoot first and ask questions later. In this conflict whoever opened fire first survived.

There are a number of unproven allegations against the RICSR. They are said to have killed the Lord Mayor of Cork Tomas MacCurtain. There is a considerable possibility that they did. He was a senior officer in the IRA. The IRA had no compunction about killing unarmed people including civilians. The RICSR may have had enough of that and simply decided to kill him.  If so then it was wrong to do so and they ought to have arrested him. But the hypothesis that it was them is not as probable as many assume. There had been a heated dispute in the Cork IRA that day. It is possible that he was killed by another faction in the IRA.

It is virtually certain that a small number of civilians were purposively killed by the RICSR. That means deliberately killing these people whilst believing them to pose no threat. That is murder. Only a handful of RICSR officers did this. This is clearly the most serious crime of all. None of these men was ever convicted of these crimes. In an armed conflict on that scale and with a lack of chivalry on the part of the IRA it was inevitable that some RICSR men would see red.

Loyalist terrorists committed many unspeakable crimes. The Ulster Protestant Association (UPA) was the loyalist terrorist gang at the time. The UPA carried out hundreds of sectarian murders. The Crown Forces struggled to contain the UPA as they did the IRA. There were a very few members of the Crown Forces who assisted the UPA in their heinous offences.

The republican movement and nationalism as a whole tends to traduce RICSR. If this force was wicked then the IRA must be good. The RISCR are mischaracterised as brutes and psychopaths. These caricatures are IRA propaganda. The RICSR was tough and doughty. They were fighting a nemesis that did not adhere to the Geneva Convention or the Hague Convention. The IRA did not pretend to be a signatory to either. IRA men almost never wore uniforms. They often did not carry arms openly. They usually lacked a clear chain of command. They commonly killed prisoners. The IRA killed a few hundred civilians. But even if the IRA had abided by all the provisions of the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention it would have been an illegal insurgent force. Other sovereign states regard such combatants as freebooters.

Republican propagandists have so often likened the RICSR to the SS. This hideously offensive lie is yet another example of Godwin’s law. This comparison is stupid from the IRA’s point of view since the IRA was an enthusiastic Nazi ally. This was not a marriage of convenience but a love match. Dan Breen had a portrait of Hitler in his house well after 1945. The fiercest critic of the RICSR was the founder of the British Union of Fascists. Some members of the RICSR went on to join the international volunteers in Spain to fight against fascism. Some former IRA men led by Eoin O’Duffy joined the other side.

The SS killed hundreds of thousand of civilians. They were killed far from the battlefield in a manner totally unrelated to combat. The difference from this and the RICSR could not greater. It nauseatingly dishonest to compare the two. A few RICSR men also fought for the Allies in the Second World War.

Countless books and films are produced depicting the IRA in a favourable light. It is fashionable in the UK and in the US to do so. Take the Wind that shakes the Barley as a typical valentine to the IRA. Imagine a film which does something to redress the balance and show the RICSR not as angels but as human. Who would make that film? That really would be a courageous film to make. But many find the truth intolerable.

The RICSR is rightly castigated for the misdeeds of some of its men. Republicans have pretended that the worst acts of a few members of the RICSR typify the body as a whole. The republican propaganda machine has been in overdrive for a century smearing this force as a whole. There has been a Chinese whispers effect about this organization. A certain true story is told. It is then retold and retold until the version that is widely believed bears little relations to the truth.

This article is fair-minded and balanced unlike most other articles on this most contentious topic. Unlike republican publicity this article has gone out of its way to cite information likely to redound to the disadvantage of the cause I wish to make. Nor has this article indulged in denialism.