cry the beloved countryLet’s dig into this one . What is it with unionists and nationalists and their belief systems? What for example , is going on in Northern Ireland  as regards support for  things like Israel , immigration , the Muslim community, racism.?

It would appear that one community supports the Palestinians and the other neatly supports Israel. It’s becoming more apparent  with Israeli and Palestinian flags popping up across the land …joining the already profuse  union jacks, tricolours and the rest. We hadn’t enough flags already, eh ?

What is going on with the choices here though? The unionist and nationalist communities are madly insular in many things but when it comes to struggles across the world they  seem to follow a similar pattern. Like chessmen on a board, they seem to pick opposing sides  ,as sure as god didn’t make little green apples. No matter how far away the conflict….The idea that  one community will always take  the opposing side of the argument to his political and cultural rival on the other side of the road.How did Northern Irish people simplly arrive into these opposing viewpoints in so many instances?

You’d imagine that the Protestant Unionist  community would, as Planter stock themselves, have some sympathy and empathy  with any immigrants arriving into their community here in Ireland,  as basically, the “New Planters”. That doesn’t seem to be the case though. More and more there is evidence of racism and racist behaviour appearing and most of it seems to be evident in the “Planter” Protestant Unionist  community .The  original Planters don’t appear to have much tolerance for these New Planters amongst them. Is that too simple a reading of the situation or is that simply biased news reportage ? Is it happening in Nationalist communities to the same extent? Is it only apparent in  a crowded city like Belfast or is it happening in smaller towns and villages across the country  too?

Then there is the Gaza conflict. The battle-lines appear similarly drawn with the Unionist  Loyalist community supporting anything and everything  the Israeli troops do, whether morally questionable or not. They don’t blink an eye when confronted with the growing death toll and will trot out  ready excuses as if to justify it. The nationalist community is in support of  the beleaguered Palestinians , to all intent, if only on humanitarian grounds. Both of these supporters may have no commonality as regards the differing cultures and religions of the two peoples  .Muslims and Jews ..Different coloured skins maybe …Well the only similarity to the Protestant community is that the Jewish Israelis are “white” and they are seen as planters. They certainly have little else in common with white Scottish Irish Protestantism . Again , what is going on here ? Is there underlying racism at the bottom of it, or what?

I suppose you could argue that the Protestant Unionist community  were siding with the  white South Africans during the apartheid  regime , while the Nationalists of every shade  here supported the black community’s fight for a  fairer society. Is this because Nationalism supported  Mandela?

I know , from a personal perspective , some of my own views were formed by reading Alan Paton’s “Cry the Beloved Country” as a young teenager at school back in the early  1960s. I was simply on the side of the anti-apartheid regime from that point. There certainly seems to be a pattern here. What about the Australian aborigines and the the Native Americans? Which side do you imagine either of our two communities would take ? “Bury My heart At Wounded Knee” is worth a read …..

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement took its lead from Martin Luther King’s movement to civilise America and to break down racial bigotry. Why did not more Protestant Unionists think that it would be a worthy ideal here too? Why did they not join that movement in their droves and join with their Nationalist neighbours for a similar cultural revolution? Only a handful joined as far as I know or remember. Did they automatically assume that Civil Rights for all was something they couldn’t abide by? Did someone say …Civil Rights are a really bad idea, we’ll not be having any of that here!

 I dare say the struggle  for Civil Rights in America would break down into similar lines of support here in Northern Ireland.  There are those that support a humanitarian ideal of  a fairer society and there are those who oppose it for their own reasons. The question  is …how does an entire community arrive in that position? Is it taught ? Is it osmosis? Is it in the genes? Maybe it is not so simple . Maybe there are Nationalists and Unionists whose support for either side is much more changeable. You never really see or hear evidence of it though.


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