The Bigger Picture
Published on April 16th in Metro Éireann By Charles Laffiteau
Today I want to acknowledge Easter by discussing Irish Republicans instead of US Republicans, notwithstanding the fact that Irish and American Republicans share certain affinities including a propensity to use violence to advance their political agendas.
The word “coward” comes from an old French word coart (the modern French version is couard) and is a combination of the French word for “tail” and an agent noun suffix. It meant “one with a tail” or one in the habit of turning it, and it was derived from a dog’s habit of putting its tail between its legs when it is afraid. A person who acts in a cowardly manner is someone who demonstrates a weak or ignoble lack of courage.
Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate and that they use violence as a tool to conceal their shame or anxiety and or to boost their self esteem by demeaning others. Risk factors for adult bullies include tendencies towards envy and resentment as well as quickness to anger and use force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, concern with preserving one’s self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.
Bullies use aggressive behavior in an effort to perpetuate the myth that people who act this way are really tough people. But the truth about bullies is that they are weak, cowardly and inadequate people who cannot interact in a mature manner because they lack knowledge, experience, wisdom and emotional maturity. Bullies are actually fearful, dysfunctional, disordered, aggressive and emotionally retarded, which is why they resort to physical and or psychological violence to get their way. But bullies often are also very adept at manipulating the perceptions of other adults, who by their failures and inactions condone the bullying. The sad truth about bullies is that only weak people need to bully.
Two thousand years ago the ancient Roman statesman, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, observed that “All cruelty springs from weakness” and that “He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.” Seneca’s observations about the Roman Empire’s bullies, and those who excuse or condone their behaviour, square neatly with my own views regarding the so-called Irish nationalist bullies and their equally misguided Irish Republican Army friends and supporters as well as those who simply choose to “look the other way.”
Unfortunately bullies or terrorists, call them what you will because there actually isn’t much of a difference, have been with us for thousands of years and so they are likely to still be around many years from now long after all of us have departed this earth. The only real difference between them is that terrorists are bullies who have also wrapped themselves in cloaks of religious, ethnic or nationalistic rhetoric so that they can justify their propensity for violence and solicit weak minded individuals to do their dirty work for them. Real leaders lead by example whereas terrorist leaders are simply cowards who manipulate others to do what they can’t or wouldn’t be stupid enough to do themselves.
Mind you, I’m not saying that there aren’t people living in this world who don’t have legitimate ethnic, political or religious grievances. Many political dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities have suffered from the pernicious effects of overt and covert discrimination by those wielding political and or military power for centuries. But it is one thing to protest in a peaceful non-violent manner against such unfairness and quite another to use these injustices as an excuse for cowardly and criminal violent behaviour.
The suicide bombers used by Tamil rebels, Islamic extremists and other terrorist groups are weak minded individuals who have been manipulated by terrorist leaders into thinking that murdering innocent individuals is a moral and justified act of self sacrifice. Hmmm. Well if killing others and yourself in the process is so moral and justified then why aren’t the terrorist leaders taking these actions themselves instead of manipulating others to so? Why don’t these terrorist bullies confront soldiers who are capable of defending themselves instead of stealthily attacking unarmed soldiers or individuals, then slinking away before they can be identified with their tails tucked between their legs?
The truth about terrorist leaders and those who do their bidding is that they are no different than drug lords and the criminals they employ. All they really want is power and to be a law unto themselves. They have no use for laws that would protect minorities or that would regard them as equal under the law with others, because they want to be above the law. They care nothing for other people; only for what those people can do for them, which is why they have so little regard for the lives of others and gladly sacrifice them.
There is no difference between Mexican drug lord Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman causing thousands of deaths in Mexico’s drug war and the thousands of deaths bin Laden is responsible for in his pseudo-religious political holy war. So what is the difference between John Gilligan sending his henchmen to murder an unarmed Veronica Guerin and sending IRA thugs to murder unarmed soldiers and some poor Polish pizza delivery men? What they have in common is neither Gilligan nor these IRA thugs would ever dare to do their dirty work in a public or fair fight.
Aristotle said the vice which represents a deficiency of courage is cowardice. Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation and to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame or discouragement. Courage, real courage, means standing up against something or someone that was unjust or evil knowing that the consequences of their action might lead to their death or imprisonment.
Civilians like Mahatma Gandhi, Veronica Guerin and Dr. Martin Luther King all had true courage. On the other hand, all the IRA leaders, Osama bin Ladens, John Gilligans and Joaquin Guzmans of this world have is a vice called cowardice.