Magazine article Insight on the News

Gerry Adams's Visit Won't Further Peace

Magazine article Insight on the News

Gerry Adams's Visit Won't Further Peace

Article excerpt

I wish I had known that as I was flying east to London on Jan. 31, Gerry Adams, head of the political arm of the Irish Republican Army, was flying west to New York. I would have flown on to a more hospitable landing spot -- say, Sarajevo or Beirut.

The fact that I bear the name of an Irish revolutionary, Robert Emmet, did not made my visit in London any easier. Our British friends are quite lathered up by President Clinton's decision to break with two decades of American policy and grant the IRA leader a visa.

I know that some of my fellow Irish-Americans were delighted by Adams's presence, but I wonder if they fully appreciate the cauldron of hate from which he bubbles forth -- admirable fellow that he now might be (though the Irish writer and retired politician Conor Cruise O'Brien recently referred to Adams as an "evil man")

I wonder if Clinton appreciates the complex hate of Northern Ireland and how improbable it is that he has done any good for peace there? Londoners from all walks of life scratch their heads at what they perceive as Clinton's snub of Prime Minister John Major. I lay Clinton's about-face on a visa for the IRA to something more fundamental than distaste for Major; I lay Clinton's decision to his late 1960s Rhodes Scholarship.

If the British wanted Clinton to grow up with a mature respect for their country, they should not have invited him to study at Oxford. Exposed as he was to the cross-eyed Marxist profs and students of that era, Clinton was bound to leave England hating its history and itching to right a few of its wrongs. Let us face the unpleasant facts: An English education acquired in the 1960s ensured that Clinton would smite the British at every opportunity.

As for the Northern Ireland from which Adams comes, until very recently its prospects for peace were nil. In reading the Oxford History of Ireland some months back, I was struck by the island's thousands of years of migration and strife. More recently its history, going back, say, a few hundred years, remains bewilderingly complex and confusing save for one element -- the presence of English exploitation. Otherwise, one finds Irish Catholics, Irish Protestant Anglo-Irish and dozens of other variations of humanity -- including gypsies -- on the island, squabling on every side of every issue. …

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