Thursday, 26 May 2016

Kevin Vickers - Canadian Badass

How one man dealt with two very different, but altogether similar events...

This article will probably be about as much of a fluff piece as I hope to ever write. Sometimes though, I do feel the need to pour out some unadulterated praise on an individual, and today is one of those days. 

Kevin Vickers whose name deservedly may ring a bell for events I will go into later in this post, has made the news again. During a ceremony meant to commemorate the Irish soldiers aligned with Britain during the 1916 republican uprising in Ireland, a protester started shouting about the insult this ceremony caused him. Although this piece is fluff I will make a political digression briefly. 

As someone of very direct Irish descent, the events of 1916 are very familiar to me. In short, groups of Irishmen across the country, unable to tolerate the cruel conditions Ireland faced under British colonial rule, rose up in a series of coordinated actions across the country. The most famous of these being the storming and capture of the post office in Dublin. This is where the first Irish free state was declared. Suffering a fairly embarrassing loss the British responded with very heavy handed tactics burning much of the city, and destroying much of the rest with artillery fire. In the fighting that ensued both sides suffered egregious causalities. The British with far superior troops many of who were Irishmen themselves, eventually won out however, captured the main collaborators of the rebellion, and promptly executed them. The military rule under the cruel Blank and Tans (named for the appearance of their improvised uniforms) is still a tragic part of Irish history, many still consider a salient issue some hundred years later. 

Image result for peace lines
(The Protestant side of a very "peaceful" wall)
With all this being said, and my obvious disdain and anger over the treatment “my people”, the progress that has been made in the last few decades is massive and far more important. There are no longer Letter bombings in London like my parents grew up with, there hasn’t been a subway attack since about the time my brother left the UK. The IRA is largely a memory, or at least any group with a name that has the capacity the IRA of The Troubles had. The reason for all of this progress, is each side recognizing the pain and suffering of the other. This is why memorializing the soldiers loyal to the Crown who died in 1916 is just as important as recognizing those who fought for Irish freedom. It moves both sides forward, and might be a step in taking down the “Peace Lines” or massive walls reminiscent of the Gaza strip that still loom over parts of Northern Ireland (a move currently planned for 2023). 

This is why it makes me boil with anger when I see someone who thinks they are making a difference by standing up and shouting loudly at a solemn memorial that is genuinely moving the issue forward. The loudest voices, at least in my experience, are rarely the ones speaking rationally. This is a great example of an narcissistic nobody who decides they want all eyes on them, because they have the answers.

Enter Kevin Vickers, who without hesitation, broke rank the second this baseless “protestor” started ranting, grabbing him firmly and thoroughly removing him from the area.  A man who is not even in his own country (though to be fair as ambassador he does have diplomatic immunity), unarmed, and furthermore looking a little worse for wear than last time he was in the news, beat on duty Irish police officers to bring the man down. Good craic as they say. Seriously for a moment, I have to praise Mr.Vickers, and for his quick response in shutting down this protestor, and here’s why:
 In recent years it has become increasingly acceptable for protesters to hijack other political forums for their own gain. This has the tendency to give movements that otherwise would have to work long and hard to convince people to be active their causes, a jumpstart as it were in popularity. It also tends to cause more copycat hijackings. 

Image result for bernie sanders blm seattle
("Peaceful" BLM Protestors)
Case in point the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m not going to weigh in on their overall points because I don’t really feel I add an important narrative there. However I will speak out about their - and anyone else who uses the tactic of hijacking other legitimate political events in a politico-terroristic way. One of the first times this caught my attention was the BLM protestors who took over a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle. This really should have been the pinnacle in showing the irony of the movement vs it’s tactics, as Mr.Sanders was pretty active it some legitimate grassroots civil uprising. Unlike Bernie and Mr.King, the BLM protestors instead of organizing a mass march to derail his speech, stormed the podium and took the mic.

Image result for blm depaul
(Rational politcal debate
 from a BLM member)
Image result for blm depaul
(More of the same)

Fast forward to a few days ago at DePaul University and BLM protesters storm a talk by Dangerous Faggot (not being homophobic, that’s his chosen moniker) Milo Yiannopoulos. This time shutting down an event organized by campus republicans by chanting Bernie sanders name among other tactics which went as far as threatening to attack the speakers. Quite a fast change of heart it seems. The tactics used by the BLM group are those of those of the irrational “loud voices” I mentioned earlier. Rather than develop a grassroots following, or legitimize their discourse, they choose instead to get their own faces in front of the media, by hijacking the events of others, who have put in the time and work. It works, because the media is already at these events, and people who are not directly involved with the issue find it easy to join the cause when they see the events online and in the media. This does not make for a legitimate political movement, you can scream as much as you want, act violently and attract attention in the name of activism but this is still aggressive, violent action, and is equivalent, in my opinion to political terrorism.

Unfortunately for the campus republicans, and the speakers themselves who shelled out money for rather lack lustre private security (after the campus accused them of creating a danger, there wasn’t someone with the gusto of Kevin Vickers to shut down the political hijacking. 

Some may say being i’m hyperbolic when I say this is political terrorism. Well, the very reason people like Mr. Vickers take this sort of thing seriously, has to do with how Mr. Vickers first gained international fame.

A single minded individual, with ties to a wider movement, frustrated with their governments actions, stormed a political venue to gain international attention in front  of the media they knew would be there. The problem was this was a man connected with ISIS and he was so frustrated he brought a rifle with him and ended the life of several much better men. This was an act of political terrorism and I don’t think it is remotely on par with the actions of BLM protestors. I hasten to even draw the comparison for fear I might insult the memory of those who lost loved ones, but I also think it needs to be done. 

It takes one person to cause such a tragedy, and when you have a movement that justifies such violent irrational tactics, and becomes widespread to quickly, it will inevitably create outliers, who take the violence one step further. We have come very close (feel free to point out examples if it has happened) to seeing BLM protestors become violent, and I don’t think its s stretch to say that within any movement justifying such aggressive, violent tactics there will develop outliers who wish to take it further. 

This is why we need more people willing to act quickly, and shut down these acts of political terrorism. Because every time they work, it encourages more to try their chance. Political discourse, and proper decorum should rule politics. Separating those who wish to argue rationally, from those who want to yell loudly is key for democracy to function. Letting political hijackings occur isn't ok, and its a pretty slippery slope from there, to the sort of horrific action that can be caused by one person who takes it to far. 

In any case, what today has taught me is that in cases of extreme, and minor political terrorism, Canada (and now Ireland too) can count on Kevin Vickers to do the right thing.

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