If the opinion piece ‘Why we must never allow republicans to rewrite the past and absolve the IRA of its guilt’ (Thursday, August 25) has its facts correct, then it provides useful historical information on the inaugural meeting of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association at the home of Kevin Agnew in Maghera in 1966.
In the hands of actual historians, committed to the attempt to render history without bias, historical moments are brought to light and we all get a better sense of our shared history. Demagogues meanwhile are in the business of skewing history to a partisan agenda, in which ‘their’ version of history must be obliterated by ‘our’ version.
Such is the character of the opinion piece in question by Nelson McCausland.
NICRA was a broad coalition of people united in challenging social injustice and political oppression. Such social solidarity is perennially threatening to established authority, and it is the mark of a mature society when people see this challenge as part of a common good, not as one community ostensibly gaining advantage over another.
Likewise political misdirectors are a perennial type that emerge when established authority is challenged in this way. Is the real fear not that ‘their’ community is challenging the State, but that ‘our’ community might start seeing through the political manipulations that keep them in place, such as divide and rule.
It’s well recognised that the Education Act of 1949 was an important contribution to the conditions that brought about the Civil Rights movement, when an educated generation applied knowledge and acumen to create change.
It would be convenient for misdirectors to have us all thrown back to the time when we had less access to knowledge, and less ability to analyse it.