Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Forgiveness or Self Perpetuation?
There is a battle almighty going on in the British press and it concerns Senator Edward Kennedy described by some US political analysts as the most hard working, honest and courageous member of the Senate.
However, there are those on the other side of The Pond who don't see it that way.
Why is this suddenly an issue one might ask? Because the senior US Senator is to be given an honorary knighthood by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It always creases me when she is referred to as the Queen of England - she is much more than that - Scotland, Northern Island and Wales to say nothing of the Head of the Commonwealth. A bit like Prince Charles's wife being described as Princess Camilla on a local news spot last week. She is not a princess and she is not the Duchess of York - that honour goes to Sarah Ferguson albeit that they have dropped Her Royal Highness bit since the divorce. Camilla is the Duchess of Cornwall taking one of her husband's many titles - there was a public outcry nearing her marriage when it was suggested that she became the Princess of Wales - no way - that title belonged to the late Princess Diana although she too was stripped of the "her royal highness' bit upon divorce.
However I digress which many of you know I am wont to do. Knighthoods can only be given to Brits and when the Queen decides (or rather her government decides) to honour someone of another nationality e.g. Bob Geldorf, Speilberg - more hereunder, it is as an honorary.
So why the hoohah??? Andrew Roberts of the London Mail writes:
"The decision to award an honorary knighthood to Senator Edward Kennedy shows Britain at its most masochistic, New Labour at its most cynical and - if he accepts it - Kennedy at his most hypocritical.
To bestow such a distinction on a man who has spent almost all his adult life profoundly opposed to the United Kingdom's best interests also makes a mockery of the honours system.
Ever since Patrick Kennedy (Ted's Irish great-grandfather) set foot on Noddle Island, Boston, on April 21, 1849, the family has nursed a deep resentment against the country that they blame for forcing them out of County Wexford during the Great Potato Famine.
Over all matters concerning Ireland, the Kennedys have taken a pro-Nationalist line that has been deeply antagonistic to the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That is why it is absurd for Gordon Brown to make this award, in the words of its official citation, 'for services to U.S.-UK relations and to Northern Ireland'.
For it is no exaggeration to say that Ted Kennedy did his damnedest to poison U.S.-UK relations over Ulster during the long decades in which he has castigated successive British governments. Rather than expressing any genuine commitment to peace in Northern Ireland, he would always play exclusively to his own Catholic-Irish voters in Massachusetts, whom he has represented in the Senate for more than 46 years.
Although he was always careful to use weasel words to condemn violence on both sides, it was always for Britain and the Ulster Protestants that he reserved his most withering rebukes. For the Queen to be obliged to honour this man is nothing less than an obscenity.
Let us look more closely at his record in relation to Ulster. In 1971, Kennedy likened the British presence there to the American invasion of Vietnam - a despicable analogy at a time when U.S. troops were using the poisonous chemical Agent Orange and napalm against the Vietcong.
He went on to state that the Protestants of Ulster 'should be given a decent opportunity to go back to Britain'. The fact that they had been in Ulster for 360 years - three times as long as the Kennedys had been in America - clearly passed him by. It was not until St Patrick's Day 1977 that Ted acknowledged that the Protestants might be allowed to remain in their homeland.
In 1978, he successfully pressured President Jimmy Carter's administration not to allow the U.S. to sell arms to the Royal Ulster Constabulary - sanctions which effectively equated Britain's Ulster police force with repressive dictatorial regimes in Africa and Asia.
It was no coincidence that he raised the flag of Irish nationalism whenever his Senate seat came up for re-election. His call for British withdrawal from Northern Ireland in 1980 was condemned as ignorant grandstanding by the great Irish statesman Conor Cruise O'Brien, but it went down well in the Irish pubs in Boston where money was raised for the shamelessly pro-IRA fund raising organization Noraid.
True to form, Kennedy blamed British 'insensitivity' for the 1981 hunger strikes led by the terrorist Bobby Sands in Belfast's Maze prison, rather than the IRA for the continuing murderous strife in Northern Ireland. We can only be thankful in Britain that Ted Kennedy narrowly missed being elected as Democratic candidate for the presidency in 1986, for he might have won the White House. His chances were wrecked by those still unanswered questions about the death by drowning 11 years earlier of 29-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, a pretty political assistant, in a car driven by Kennedy.
It is important to go back to that horrific incident - and to Kennedy's despicable behaviour on the night - to explain why his character alone ought to disqualify him from any British honour, irrespective of his shameful support for the terrorist IRA."
I'm not going into the Chappaquidick episode as no one needs reminding of something that he has probably lived to regret. Alcohol combined with youth and panic are terrible things.
Roberts goes on:
"Yet this is the man Labour intends to award the same honour as has previously been given to true American 'greats' such as Ronald Reagan, 'Stormin' ' Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, Caspar Weinberger, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton and several other equally distinguished military, diplomatic and religious figures.
Without the tragedy of his brothers' assassinations, and the magic of his family name, Ted Kennedy would be nothing.
Now, Labour, which is supposed to abhor nepotism, is about to reward the most egregious example of nepotism in America today. That Kennedy is suffering from a brain tumour is very sad, but surely it is no reason to honour him.
Labour argues that Ted Kennedy aided, and was a great supporter of, the Northern Irish peace process and, therefore, deserves this honour - but, once again, let us look at his record.
It is true that he lobbied President Clinton hard in 1996 to award Gerry Adams an American visa (Adams promptly used his subsequent U.S. visit to raise money for Sinn Fein) and later to get him invited to the White House. But it is quite wrong to suggest, as the American historian Arthur Schlesinger does, that these initiatives 'led to the IRA ceasefire and the Good Friday accords'.
These, in fact, only came about as a result of the IRA's political and military leadership recognizing that they had been defeated on the ground by 1996-98. All that these American invitations afforded Adams, apart from flattering his ego, was to lend Sinn Fein an utterly spurious respectability on the world stage.
Only after 9/11 - when Americans discovered on their own soil how loathsome terrorism truly is, and how far from a noble romantic struggle - did Kennedy cynically distance himself from Adams and fellow Sinn Fein stalwart Martin McGuinness, refusing to meet them in 2005 after the IRA brutally murdered Robert McCartney in a Belfast bar in January that year.
Now, Gordon Brown wishes to ingratiate himself to the President by giving a knighthood to Obama's political ally, using the Northern Ireland peace process as the excuse even though it is utterly inappropriate."
Mary Ellen Synon writes in the same newspaper that being a friend of Gerry Adams was hardly the worst that Kennedy has done in his life. Tories are outraged that the Queen is to confer this honour on Kennedy who for decades has been allied to the Irish Republican movemement.
Synon refers to Kennedy as coming from bad stock (is that stock or stork??) which I hardly think he had a choice in. Neither did he have a choice in his father's decisions to have affairs, bootleg and to be part of organized crime. But money talks and Kennedy was reinstated into school after being caught having paid another student to sit his Spanish paper for him.
So in Britain (I am loathe to use the word Great anymore) tempers are running high, opinions are being given and questions asked as to why this man who apart from his other misdemeanors has been a consistent supporter of the most ruthless and cruel form of abortion, a procedure known as partial-birth abortion that allows a full-term baby to be killed in the birth canal - without anaesthetic, is being given this honour,
As someone commented, this tells exactly what one needs to know - not necessarily about Edward Kennedy but about the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. The man who is trying to woo the new President of the United States, Barak Obama!!