Sunday 12 July 2009
At least Jackson never inspired young boys to go out and kill
Peter King has failed to see the similarities between Jacko and Patrick Pearse says Ruth Dudley Edwards
He came from a dysfunctional family, lived much of the time in a world of fantasy, as a grown man sought out the company of children, was attracted sexually only by boys, but became a hero and legend in his death. Yes, Patrick Pearse had a lot in common with Michael Jackson.
I doubt if the similarities have struck Republican Congressman Peter King, a one-time IRA supporter who last week denounced the "orgy of glorification" of the "pervert" and "low-life" Jackson. When it was pointed out to him that Jackson had never been found guilty of paedophilia, King retorted that he was certainly "molesting and abusing" the "psyche" of the boys with whom he consorted, Hmmm. There are unkind people who would suggest that whatever Jackson did to boys, at least, unlike Patrick Pearse, he didn't inspire them to go out and kill and die. And, unlike the IRA that King supported, Jackson didn't break their legs, shoot off their knee-caps, intimidate them and brainwash them into becoming terrorists. He treated them kindly and spoke to them of love.
Not that I'm getting at Pearse here on the sexual front. You don't choose your sexual inclinations and I believe he was an innocent who sublimated his urges though I wish he'd chosen set-dancing rather than violence. I think Jackson was probably an innocent too, desperately seeking through the young the childhood he was himself denied. It was unwise of him to share his bed with 12-year-olds, but I doubt there were sexual acts.
It's Congressman King on his latest populist platform that makes my lip curl. I know the guy: we've met in Washington and debated across the ocean on the radio and I found him as ignorant as he was opinionated on Ireland and the wonders of the IRA, "the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland". "We must pledge ourselves," he told Irish-Americans in the early 1980s, "to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry." He visited Ireland frequently, nestling into the bosom of the republican family. At home, he helped Irish Northern Aid (NORAID) raise money for the republican movement and vehemently defended the IRA with the help of the Sinn Fein hymn-sheet. In return, NORAID helped him in 1985 to become grand marshal of the New York St Patrick's Day parade and to defeat an anti-IRA candidate in the municipal election. When eventually in 1992 he made it to Congress, he invited Gerry Adams to his swearing-in ceremony.
In 2001 King published a priceless novel, Terrible Beauty, about beautiful, clever mother-of-three Bernadette, whose husband Dermot is framed and imprisoned by the British oppressors. When she realises "the Brits were trying to destroy the very soul of her people", she murders a politician of whom she disapproves and goes on a successful American speaking tour.
Her pal Father Slattery is her confidant, who fuses faith and fatherland to justify her actions.
But King was moving forward. Deliver Us From Evil told of brave Republican Congressman Sean Cross who collaborated with the Democrat Bill Clinton to in the words of an admirer "solve the fratricidal was in Northern Ireland". But by the time of his third novel, with 9/11, all had changed utterly. He not only didn't like terrorism in his own backyard, he didn't like Irish anti-Americanism. So Vale of Tears, published n 2004, showed Congressman Cross defeating terrorism in the shape of radical Islam and the IRA.
King had "cooled on Ireland", he explained.
"There's a certain unpleasant trait that the Irish have, and it's begrudgery... and resentment toward the Americans."
He was now one of George W Bush's most loyal fans and a fervent supporter of the Iraq war. He cooled too on the Irish republicans, calling on the IRA to disband and staying away from his former buddies. These days he's predominantly a law-and-order and keep-American-safe campaigner who opposes the planned closure of Guantanamo Bay.
He has his eye on the Senate in 2010 and like any politician needs as much publicity as he can get. It was smart to hook into the national obsession with Jackson by posting on YouTube a diatribe against him along with the demand that the media focus on brave Americans dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and the cops and teachers and fire-fighters and carers on whom society depends. He is speaking for millions of Americans, says King, and there are now millions of Americans who know who King is. He is no racist, but as a right-wing conservative he will have few black votes to lose and there will be many blue-collar workers cheering him on.
I'm not surprised at his lack of compassion for the lost soul that was Michael Jackson. You couldn't expect empathy from a man who was happy to drink with the low-life who frequented the Felons' Club in West Belfast in the 1980s
Ruth Dudley Edwards