17 March 2012

Uncommon Commentary #252: (Wise) Up, the Irish! Or, Posting #300!

St. Patrick's Day, which has been deformed from the feast day of a patron saint into an often intensely nationalistic celebration of all things pertaining to the Emerald Isle, may be the most fitting time for me to teach the following lesson from history.
In 1914, the British Parliament passed a bill to establish Home Rule for Ireland, which meant that the entire island [v.i.] would become a fully independent dominion of the Commonwealth, just as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand did in 1931.  The outbreak of the Great War delayed the implementation of this legislation.  Hibernian hotheads, in league with Germany and in either ignorance or defiance of St. Paul's divinely inspired instruction to "obey the powers that be", rose against the British on Easter 1916; this instance of treachery failed to achieve its goal of bringing immediate independence, but violence again erupted at the end of the war.  The Protestant, British majority in the six northernmost counties consequently refused to be placed under the governance of the Roman Catholic Gaels who made up most of the population elsewhere, and so Parliament modified the Home Rule act to provide for what we now know as Northern Ireland.  Therefore, not only did the terrorism and other mayhem not avail the cause of the irate Irish anything, but they actually got less than they would have if it had not taken place; perhaps no episode better illustrates the futility of political revolution.