To me 'Sleekit' and 'Cow'rin' were terms of contempt, describing the very worst qualities in people. Sly and cowardly in a single person falls short of anything approximating a compliment. It struck me as odd that the ploughman would describe the wee mouse he had just made homeless before winter as Sleekit and Cow'rin, but he does.
International law, strictly speaking, is a powerful and inter-state legal fiction. It does not exist in any real and meaningful sense outside of the political will and strategic necessity of the countries or collections of countries with the strength and desire to enforce it.
Looking in the mirror no longer shows me an image of how I think I look. Now it asks me questions about the future and reminds me that I am no longer the fairest in the land. My young maths students crack the odd joke about me developing bald spot and I find myself envying their youth and stupidity.
That’s fighting talk, that is. Growing up where I did I’ve heard this language a lot. It’s the battle cry of housing estate vigilante justice, “You just tell me where he lives, and I’ll march right round there and see what he has to say for himself. By God, he’ll listen to what I have to say.”
This is the power of fiction; the drama, the enthusiasm, and the fraud. At no point in its production did the original drafters of the Constitution intend these fine words to include their slaves or the native peoples.
Racism is not an opinion. Racism is not one of those personal reflections on the world one is allowed to share because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Racism is the disgusting and ignorant disregard of other human beings and their rights and needs on the basis of imagined difference.
Everywhere I have travelled on this island people have been keen to welcome me as a fellow Celt and assure me of how similar our two countries are. They’re not that similar. At bottom the Scots and the Irish think differently.
Today, regardless of what we think we are doing, we are not remembering the dead of that horrific war. The so-called ‘Great War’ is now all but beyond the horizon of living memory. Instead we are sharing in – not remembering – an imagined past; a glorious celebration of invented heroes who serve only to justify more modern, less morally justifiable wars – land and resource grabs.