Like, seriously, actually fuck you.
It’s not just about being some intellectually smug Marxist or whatever brush I’m being tarred with, but for me, it’s very personal.
My grandparents, all four of them, were born in a colony of the British Empire, an Empire that had routinely brutalised my ancestors for over 800 years. I don’t feel like I should apologise for being angry about that.
It bothers me that thousands of Irish men and women were killed, intermittently from the turn of the last millennium, in wars of aggression to steal their land and freedom, launched by British monarchs and leaders. It bothers me that Britain brought the sectarian religious divides to Ireland that still exist today, by treating Irish land as a prize for wealthy protestant titled landowners, who, if the Catholics were lucky only treated them like dirt, and if they were unlucky, evangelised against Irish Catholicism by burning down Catholic churches with the Irish Catholics still inside them. It bothers me that for centuries Irish slaves were shipped in their near millions to the Caribbean, where to beat an Irish Catholic slave to death was not a crime, more a mere monetary setback. It bothers me that England treated Ireland like it’s own free, private farm, and even during the potato blight in the 19th Century pillaged Irish produce so severely, and increased rent to dramatically, that a man-made famine ensued and literally halved the Irish population. Their response was to hold a parade in which Queen Victoria rode down the streets of Dublin to starving crowds. It bothers me that when Ireland had really had enough, Ireland had really got sick of colonial repression, and told Britain to fuck off, they responded by assembling the ‘Black and Tans’, mentally damaged ex-service men who formed a colonial police body and routinely killed and tortured Irish civilians for crimes as minimal as speaking Gaelic instead of English, not stopping to greet them, meeting in large groups socially and refusing to inform on their fellow Irishmen and women. My Granny was 5 years old when the Irish War of Independence broke out. She spent her entire childhood watching inhumanly evil British soldiers storm into her house, abuse her parents, herself and her younger siblings, watched her older brothers fight tooth and nail against occupation, in some cases until their eventual death at the hands of the British.
As if the Union Jack wouldn’t turn my stomach.
It bothers me that the institution I am being belittled for not wishing to celebrate has treated my family, only one generation up from me, like they aren’t human.
Of course, that is only personal to me, and the British Empire was far wider reaching than Ireland, and the vast expanses of colonial oppression tell only further untold horror. I fully accept that I am not alone in feeling such a deep resentment for the past aggression on the people of the country that my own parents were born in.
You and I will never know what it feels like to be born in a colony of the British Empire, so it’s hard to imagine it ever coming to pass that your childhood could be characterised by knocks on the door, dawn raids, murder and assault on your siblings and parents, but if ever it is, make sure you tell your grandchildren not to care about it, not to be angry about it, to just calm down, crack open a beer, and enjoy the day off.
My granny that lives with us was born in 1916, when we were all still part of the union, in Donegal. She remembers a lot of the horrible shit that went on. It’s not cool to expect people to just join in with this jubilee shit and not speak against the English monarchy. Fuck that shit.
And we didn’t even get the worst of it.
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