Queens University and Charlie Hebdo

I have fond memories of Queens University Law Faculty in the sixties. Good colleagues, Arthur Moir, Des Marrinan, Martin Blake, Arthur Harvey, Nigel Barr, David Smyth and many others. Great staff. World class. Sheridan, Twining, Palley, Wylie, Calvert and many others, even David Trimble and Geoff Foote!

Who can forget the magnolias flowering on University Square and the Club Bar? Grants?

Academia as it will never be again.

Now the management that brought you a ban on the National Anthem and the RUC band bring you a ban on free speech.

This is the university that boasts in a centre named after Bill Clinton. It welcomes Allstate, an institution rated in 2008  by the American Association for Justice  as the worst insurer in the USA.

Professor Johnston the leader of QUB told Allstate’s leaders, “leadership is about courage, conviction and putting you second-not first” [I wonder who writes his stuff?]

There then followed mutual back slapping with Mr Gupta, an Allstate VP.

Is this a clue?

In any event, investment is safe and with it the obscene amounts of money paid to senior QUB staff.

Johnston showed great courage.

Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech and press freedoms are cornerstones of a democracy.

In the wake of Charlie Hebdo it is important to recall that violence and threats against the press and against free speech occur nearer home also. Martin O’Hagan was killed in September 2001. Adams recently made a remark about guns and newspapers.

Anyone wanting to read some detail of other threats made locally should read a piece written by Paul Campbell and carried in the blog “The Pensive Quill”.

Campbell’s cast of characters is interesting.

Grandpa McGuinness

On 7th january, oul Grandpa McGuinness, he of the folksy charm, tweeted “Today’s attack in Paris was appalling”.

This from a man who ordered many similar attacks. How many defenceless policemen did his comrades kill?

If you repeat a lie often enough..

Also, if the French Government is as brave as the British, it will already be negotiating with the terrorists.

Despite the demonstrations and the words, when the dust settles in Paris , the victims will be discarded by the state and will be left to the silence.

It will be interesting to assess French foreign policy in the coming months.

Meantime David Cameron is, in respect of toughness towards Islamic terrorists, [as they say in Texas] Big Hat no cattle.

The opiate of the masses

Imagine that you had helped Britain and France in the Great War and had been deceived.

Imagine that a man turned up at your home, you opened the door, he carried a gun in one hand and the Old Testament in the other. He said, “this book says that 2000 years ago this was my land.”

Imagine living with several million other people in a piece of land the size of the Ards Peninsula.

Imagine that the West cares little.

I spent two years in Saudi Arabia 1980-82.

While the Saudis were welcoming, many harboured a dislike of the USA and the UK. Apart from the matters above, they felt that the West had screwed them over  oil.

When the Falklands War started it was obvious whom they backed. A generation on, after the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other countries , I judge that the dislike of the West has turned to hatred.

That is not to condone the Paris killings.

But until we truly understand the reasons for the hatred, nothing will change.

Why should not the Palestinians have a state?

It is easy for people to pontificate about terrorism, try experiencing it at first hand.

It is easy, too, to drive unhappy people into the arms of religion. “There is no God but Allah and Mohammet is his messenger” Killing for a greater power gives legitimacy.

Four hundred years ago , this state burned people at the stake. Not that long ago the USA had witch trials. Read Miller’s play.

Next time you read the Daily Mail, ask yourself this question; “who is speaking to me?’

I bet you will come to the conclusion that it is not the ordinary man, in London, New York, Gaza, Tel Aviv or Tripoli.

Charlie Hebdo

The images from Paris are shocking.

Of course, PIRA often shot police officers and civilians in similar fashion.

I doubt if the leaders of the Islamist terrorist group, responsible for this will ever sit in government in France.

I’m also sure that the French citizens will not have to wait twenty five years for compensation and justice.

It all makes Cameron’s words ring hollow.