FROM:- Protestant Unionist (name and address supplied).
I should like to draw the attention of your readers to the recent statement by DUP MLA Jonathan Bell in which he accused Golf Clubs of harbouring bigotry. While Jonathan didn’t choose the most accurate form of words in which to frame his statement there was some substance in what he said. Instead of apologising for the statement he should have come out and clarified it.
There is a joke doing the rounds that the Protestant middle-class went out to play golf in 1969 and didn’t come back. If you think about it, there is more than a grain of truth in this, as it very aptly sums up their attitude to “the troubles”.
Instead of focusing on golf clubs in particular he should have turned the spotlight on the Protestant middle-class in general. To be fair, they could well argue that they were the original architects of what to-day is fashionably known as “the peace process”. In a way they were ahead of their time, because for them this began in 1969. On the surface this seems fine and laudable, until you draw an analogy with the Second World War. One can imagine public reaction if elements in our community had espoused peace when bombs were raining down on London.
This is the generation that has been indoctrinated into political correctness, and like all converts they are extremely zealous and want to pass on their “faith”. In some cases they are so fanatical they resort to bullying in an effort to win converts. Nowhere is this more evident than in our schools, but they get away with it because the majority of parents are more interested in results than what their children learn.
Their critics would argue that while others played their part, in many ways, to defend Northern Ireland, and put their necks on the line, they refused to get their hands dirty. On reflection, I realise that some of your readers may well take offence at my choice of words, so to be charitable, and in keeping with the continuing theme of “peace” I will refer to them with the less pejorative term- “non- combatants”- they will feel more comfortable with this. The only criticism I would make of Jonathan is that his choice of words has allowed these people to take the moral high ground, and let them off the hook.
There is a sizable, and growing section of the Protestant middle-class, who live in N Ireland, take all the benefits that flow from being citizens of N Ireland, but have no real loyalty to it, yet they exercise an influence in our community disproportionate to their numbers.
Of course they like to invest themselves with the badge of tolerance in an intolerant age, while pursuing their own self-interest, but that is only camouflage. Our country is crying out for leaders who have the vision and the courage to expose them for what they really are, not as they are dressed up to be.
Incidentally, I see Mike Nesbitt has jumped on the bandwagon to attack Jonathan Bell. I wonder what he will reply when children ask him “Mike what did you do in the war”?
They may feel their inaction has gone unnoticed but in the eyes of a minority, that I refer to as the informed middle-class, by that I mean politically informed, they have been diminished. This will be lost on them of course, because human nature being what it is they won’t see it applies to them. It reminds me of Mrs Bucket, everyone laughs at her but fail to recognise it’s a caricature of themselves.
If I have to choose between the bigot and the “non- combatant” give me the bigot. The bigot would put his own neck on the line, the “non-combatant” would put my neck on the line. Then he would add insult to injury by saying it was my choice.
Certainly, the part played by the Protestant middle-class in “the troubles” is a story that needs to be told. One can only hope that in the interest of truth that whole unedifying history will emerge. It would add a very important dimension to “the healing process”, and make an interesting read.
I leave your readers with Jonathan Swift’s definition of satire: “satire is a sort of glass in which beholders discover everybody’s face but their own”.