Hyde Park IRA Bombing

Given that, as they say in Ireland, “€œeven the dogs in the street”€ know what Adams has been and the foul things he has done, you may say that those voters ought to show better taste in heroes, and you may be right. There are powerful collective passions in play, though: powerful enough to excuse terror and murder, quite possibly powerful enough to ignite a new round of Troubles if not pacified.

If you had asked me in 1982 what should have been done about the IRA, I would have said that no government worth allegiance could permit such a challenge in its territories, and that Britain should suspend habeas corpus, declare martial law, and hunt down and kill the terrorists without mercy.

I now realize that this was a naïve point of view. Even governments far more ruthless than Britain’s could ever be are unable to suppress terrorism. The Chinese communists, for example, whose operational vocabulary does not include the phrase “€œdue process,”€ can”€™t quench the terrorist movement in East Turkestan. The passions driving the terrorists and their supporters are too strong.

Hence the political calculations behind the rise to respectability of Adams, Mandela, and others in their category. “€œLet justice be done though the heavens fall“€ may be an appealing slogan, but probably only if you have never actually been in the neighborhood when the heavens didfall.     

So Gerry Adams will walk. He will likely be reelected to political office by admiring voters. Perhaps, like his fellow-murderer Martin McGuiness, he will be presented to the Queen as victims of the IRA terror squads seethe and weep. It’s not justice, but it is rational statecraft. Truly we are the Children of Wrath.



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