Thursday, January 6, 2011

Black and Tans

Not that this has anything to do with the Hells Angels or the Vancouver gang war but don't get me started on the Holy Land. The only good Black and Tan is a drink at the pub.

A friend at work asked me a couple years ago if I ever had a Black and Tan. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I turned to him and cautiously asked what he meant. He said a Black and Tan is when you mix Irish Harp and Guinness. The Guinness floats on top like a B-52 so it looks black and tan. I took a few deep breaths said OK and thought about it for a second. Actually that sounds interesting I said.

Historically the Black and Tans were ruthless oppressors for the British in Dublin. Remember Ireland was a conquered country suffering from foreign occupation. That fact ties in to some of their historical traditions. Take their dance. In Scotland, the Saber dance is done around a sword with the hands raised in the air. In Ireland they danced with their hands at their side symbolic of being oppressed in slavery by a foreign government.

My father's father was born in London. He was of Scottish descent. That clan came to Scotland from Ireland anciently. He served in the trenches of WWI. He met his wife in London who was a Canadian nurse of Irish and Scottish ancestry. Well I started doing some genealogy and found out that he had an older brother who had 10 children that we never knew about.

Turns out there were a whole wack of living relatives over in England we never met. I start corresponding with one guy who had tons of genealogy info. He came to Vancouver and started showing me old pictures. I saw one and asked what it was of. It was someone in a military uniform. He said that was my grandfather's older brother we never knew about. I asked what the emblem on his shoulder represented. He said it was some kind of rifle brigade for the British Army in Dublin.

My jaw hit the floor and my daughters eyes burst wide open in shock. Dublin? I said. British Army in Dublin? I said. All of a sudden I realized why we never knew about that side of the family. Let's face it, WWI and II were pretty clean cut good verses evil. Hitler used false flag attacks to gain control of Parliament and con the German people. Genocide and foreign occupation were not good things. Opposing that great evil was the right thing to do. Yet Ireland...

Foreign occupation is not good. Yet in essence that is what colonization was all about. Taxation without representation. In Canada is wasn't so bad. Loyalists were given land grants to work the land. There wasn't any oppression here except giving natives blankets laced with polio virus was just plain dirty.

When I was young I worked on a kibbutz in Israel. That doesn't make me Jewish. However what I saw there was similar to what I saw in Northern Ireland. The insane you kill one of ours we kill one of yours mentality. The old law of an eye for an eye never meant if someone commits murder you randomly murder someone from the same race or religion. That is just another act of murder which perpetuates the violence and the injustice.

Yet that isn't what I'm seeing in the Vancouver gang war. There is some rivalry between the likes of the UN and the Bacon brothers but I don't see it as the root cause of the conflict. It's not like the Crips and the Bloods you kill one of ours we kill one of yours.

The violence in the Vancouver drug war has simply been a fight over the profits from the drug trade. It is perpetual betrayal fueled by greed. I remember being in Ennis County Claire. The owner of a local print shop explained to me about his favorite saint. He said the Irish aren't impressed by wealth. He said if a saint has taken a vow of poverty and has over come trials, that impresses the Irish. I thought that was quite noble. Clearly the Irish in Ireland aren't impressed by Hummers and SUV's.

In Northern Ireland there was a place called Corrymeela where they would bring Catholic and Protestant youth together to get to know each other. Segregation prevents that from happening. In Israel they had something similar called the Oasis of Peace. Both are wonderful examples of people doing something good in the face of something bad.

Our problem in Vancouver isn't that complicated. Ours is just a matter of greed.

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