Tiger Silly

It is probably symptomatic of most people: they like to choose what it is that will offend them. Like the soup of the day, it might, another time another place, not hit the sweet spot. The more nimble minded will quickly find an alternative source of offensive sustenance while the unimaginative will simply be offended at not having been offended.

Watching some of the responses to Bob Geldoff’s diatribe against the Easter Rising, the safest conclusion is that much of it is feigned. Claiming offence at Bob’s bollix while remaining wholly unperturbed at the sight of former revolutionaries standing on their hind legs, a la Orwell’s pigs in Animal Farm, to wine and dine with the Queen of England, simply invites a quizzical eyebrow.

The British queen - whose government is still claiming sovereignty over part of the country, underwriting its division, jailing republicans for their alleged activity during the Provisional IRA’s failed campaign to remove Her Majesty’s writ, delaying at every opportunity investigations and inquiries when Her Majesty’s forces are in the frame – induces nothing remotely approaching the incandescent rage that Geldof can manage. Taking offence it seems is a highly selective practice. 

I no more like Geldof’s politics than I do his music, even though he sings better than he talks. His hectoring manner has never impressed me even when it is for a cause like Live Aid. Sir Robert has long been Bob the Bore. Having had to listen to him now going on forty years, apart from "I don't Like Mondays" and "I hate the Rising", there is nothing else he has ever said that I am able to remember such is the penetrating power of his spoken word. Bob pressing his logic into my mind is like pushing a car with a rope. So what if he doesn’t think the Rising was anything other than collective suicide by maniacs. I simply cannot work up the energy to either be outraged or pretend to be outraged. Bob Geldof’s views on the Rising are as interesting as his views on whatever else he has talked about in the last year, of which I know nothing.

The funny part is when Bob resorts to anachronistic Catholic religious cant to analyse the Rising:

You dignify it by saying it was martyrdom. If it's grievous mortal sin to commit suicide, why is it a lesser sin to hurl yourself upon a willing bayonet? Why is that a martyrdom? So much rests on this myth. How many murders have been sanctioned in its name?

I suppose the same could be said for those who allow themselves to be crucified so that they can save the world, or charge machine gun turrets at the Somme.

Then there is this: "It looks the same doesn’t it, the modern Islamic suicide bomber and the people in the Post Office?" I guess it does like the same if you look at both through the knighted eye.

Odd how it is that Rising leaders are compared with ISIS and a more fitting contender overlooked: the British Parachute Regiment’s behaviour in Derry on Bloody Sunday very closely resembles the theocratic fascists of ISIS who slaughtered unarmed Parisians as they relaxed on a Friday evening last November. A British knighthood can have that degenerative effect on the eyes, coating them with  a moral cataract. Sir Terry Wogan was blighted by the same ailment.

There are many views of the Rising. It is healthy that there are, even if we consider many of them wrong. But it is not a "wrong" to hold a wrong view. It is a right to be able to hold a wrong view. It is very much a wrong when those offended by the wrong view start behaving like the Ministry of Truth, gathering with torches to purify the offender to shouts of achtung and verboten.

When the following meme began to appear on the internet, it immediately struck me as so emblematic of fascistic thinking, that if the sentiment it expressed was allowed to take root it would constitute a much greater danger than the ramblings of Bob Geldof. It brought back memories of Fine Gael Justice Minister, Paddy Cooney in full ISIS mode fulminating that prisoners had no rights.

Geldof has the right to hold whatever opinion he wants of the Rising, or anything else for that matter. He just has no right to insist that we share it, while we in turn have the right to laugh at his opinion.

If people think Geldof is wrong, then reach for the pen, not the muzzle. Do what Jude Collins did and hold him up to ridicule.


  1. Very well put. But for someone not bothered what Sir Geldoff says sure finds many eloquent words to deride him. You have to admit it is easy to see why there is an underlying loathing of the prick. A little like that other Irish cringe factor Bono. Hopnobbing with the rich and powerful, licking their arses and letting on they care for the poor. I did not see or wanted to see the programme, no interest really for what he says. I had a good idea what the content was going to be. From what I read from you I am glad I did not watch it. If I did the tele would have borne the brunt.

  2. Hurling yourself on a bayonet is more noble than hurling yourself on a smack needle?

    I dont rate the ISIS comparisons, (the term Nazi gets misattributed alot too), they 'out did' any actor in the North in one day at Camp Speicher. Its the ideologies ambition that sets it apart from any other movement.

  3. Entertaining and thought provoking commentary as ever AM.

    I watched the programme with curiosity insofar as I deem it generally useful to be open to hearing alternative interpretations of our collective history. For me Bob's interpretation could hardly be framed as unexpectedly out of character. Neither did I find it offensive. Its just his and Roy Foster's take on things.

    What I did find somewhat ironic was their attempted separation of the important role played in the elevation of militant nationalism by the cultural revival movement and the inevitable outworking of all that.
    Its improbable that militaristic republicanism could have evolved to achieve the 'success' it did without the discursive implications of the cultural movement which included the likes of McNeil, Willie Yeats and a plethora of other intellectuals and artists .
    The swift use of military tribunals to execute the leaders, the threat of conscription in the lead up to the 1918 election and the discursive legacies of the cultural revival era are all essential to what was to follow.
    It is to my mind a reductionist distortion to leave out any of the above and their inherent relatedness when historically considering our limited success in unshackling of the colonial yoke.

  4. BT,

    the notion that he should have no opinion was what promoted me to write the piece. Other than that I would not have bothered. I wrote only on the basis of what I had read. I had no interest in the programme and therefore did not watch it.


    I suppose statistically it is safer to hurl yourself at a smack needle. The survival rate from a bayonet wound would not be as high I guess.


    you are absolutely right about the need for alternative views. The Rising leaders are precious to us but they should not be sacred and consequently shielded from the profane. I didn't feel we were going to get an alternative view - just Geldof's view which seems to be the view of somebody else with nothing new. Intellectually, we are hardly any better off for knowing Bob Geldof hates the Rising. I am as interested in his view as I am in Michaela McCollum's. I just don't think either should be silenced. But giving either such air time when there are a range of issues that could have been addressed seemed a poor application of television broadcasting management skills.

  5. ...The survival rate from a bayonet wound would not be as high I guess...

    AM, and certainly much less enjoyable than smack.

  6. DaithiD,

    I would imagine so

  7. A very interesting article and as AM rightly says “Sir Bob” such be ridiculed and not muzzled which is what Jude Collins has done. Reading the June Collins article also provided links to Live Aid articles which I recommend that people should read and show how bob made a living out of other people’s misery.

  8. DD,

    I suppose statistically it is safer to hurl yourself at a smack needle. The survival rate from a bayonet wound would not be as high I guess.

    AM, indeed, but a syringe full of diamorphine might help with pain from bayonet wound. One of the things about heroin which is often deliberately overlooked, it's the best medicine pain killer known to man, and it is also the least physically harmful narcotic. ( I mean harm to human body) A grownup debate about illicit drugs is long overdue.

  9. (Sorry to derail this AM with off topic stuff)

    Mick what they prescribe Heroin addicts seeking help is scandalous : Methadone. Its stabilising effect is because is it lasts so long in the blood before degrading, but this means a heroin addict that faced a (harrowing) week long detox now faces a 6 week detox. Honourable rehabs just wont take patients on 50+ml a day because its nearly impossible to be that deterimined to detox over a six week period of hell (always makes me think of the mental strength of the hungerstrikers).

  10. Anthony,

    The answer to your often posed question,'Is nationalism obligatory'? seems to be in the case of Bob Geldof - absolutely.

    The opinion expressed by Geldoff in 'Fanatic Heart' formed very little of the overall content of an examination that was entirely centered on the life and works of W.B Yeats. Maude Gonne copulating in the tomb of her dead son in the belief that the act would reincarnate him or that the remains contained in Yeats grave in Sligo may not in fact be those of the poet were both fascinating and informative.

  11. Robert,

    not even for Geldof should nationalism be obligatory although why he thinks forelock tipping should be obligatory and nationalism not is something he can be best explain. I prefer neither as obligatory.

    As for Yeats, there is that damning line cited by Jude Collins. There is nothing new in the claims about the bines of Yeats. Along with my ten year and a friend from Sligo I visited "his" grave last year and we discussed that very thing.

    As for Maude Gonne, yeah some people do indeed have crazy beliefs that we can survive our own death if we incant enough of the magic words!!!

  12. DaithiD

    I agree about Physeptone and withdrawals, over here the corporate private health care industry is getting involved in drug treatment in a big way, they clearly see it as a big earner.

    Anyone who has been on a diet or stopped smoking should understand the titanic struggle within their minds the hunger strikers must have faced. The fact as far as I am aware none of them caved in is worthy of a PHD. I suppose it shows the power of an idea and the solidity of the group but even then the comrades will power must have been superhuman.

    All the best


  13. Anthony,

    '..yeah some people do indeed have crazy beliefs that we can survive our own death if we incant enough of the magic words!!!'

    I know...the scuzz buckets!!