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Commentary :: International Relations : Protest, Resistance and Direct Action

Of Irish Hunger-Strikers and Iraqi Suicide Bombers

Similarities to Iraqi protests of America's abuse and destruction of their land exist in Western culture.
THE ANCIENT IRISH had a custom called troscad. When someone felt he or she had been wronged, they would go to the house of the person who given them injury, and would fast there until the guilty party made amends, or even until death by starvation. One writer says,

The practice of hunger-strike has deep roots
in Irish culture. The Celts would use
self-inflicted starvation as a means of
discrediting someone who had done them
wrong, as would unpaid poets or
tradespeople who would camp outside the
home of an uncaring patron and begin a
hunger striking ritual until their wrongs were
righted or their debts paid.
customs-the-ritual- of-the-hunger-strike/)

That source also tells us that the practice was called troscad or cealcha, which had the meaning of "fasting on or against a person" and "achieving justice by starvation.”

Furthermore, in ancient times, the troscad was one of the most effective means of someone of lesser social position to compel justice from someone of higher social position. Thus Druids could fast against a King, or even a man or woman in one of the lower orders of society could fast against a Chieftain. To refuse to submit to fasting was considered indelibly disgraceful, and was one of the things which legally degraded a man by reducing or destroying his honor-price. The practice of hunger-striking survived under Christianity. In fact, it tallies at a very deep level with Christian ideals.

I think something like that is going on today in Iraq. Instead of fasting, the aggrieved parties are blowing themselves up, but really, the principle is the same. Someone has been wronged, and the aggrieved parties are seeking justice by, in effect, fasting and flagellating themselves.

In ancient Ireland, though, people had consciences, or perhaps the collective conscience of society was strong enough to bring pressure on the party that had committed the wrong. Sadly, however, for the victimized Iraqis, their American occupiers seem to have no such conscience and ignore international outcry against their behavior with impunity. Although the losses of our own troops are carefully counted, American politicians and generals really don't care how many Iraqi bodies get pulled daily from the rubble of their once-magnificent infrastructure.

Americans don't know how they have destroyed Iraqi society by eliminating the means by which it formerly maintained social order. Nor do they know or care how badly their use of uranium weapons will wreak havoc on that tragic land, or the entire Middle East. For--have no doubts about it--uranium weapons and armor are turning the entire Middle East into a "Life-Free Zone," where in another few years, no human will be alive to trouble its conquerors with car bombs or any other form of protest.

This is because, like other radioactive weapons, uranium weapons cause cancers and other diseases that take years, in some cases, to manifest themselves. However, from the moment that someone is contaminated with the radiation from uranium weapons, that person is under an irrevocable death sentence. For the simple fact is that there is no known cure or means of alleviating radiation sickness, despite any and all claims to the contrary. So, over time, we can expect that the populations of the lands where Western civilization first thrived--Mesopotamia and Persia--will be reduced to misery and slow extinction by cancer, birth defects and a host of other diseases having their origin in the destruction of those countries by America's radioactive weaponry.

Surely, against such an egregious harm and so monstrous a wrong, countless Irish would have fasted unto death at our doorstep.

NOTE: If you would like to use this article as a letter to the editor of your local paper, please contact me. I have edited it, and reduced the word count to make it suitable for that purpose.


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