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The party of the red sea
with the north’s rock elite behind him, our columnist goes in search of the euro vote (but not before dissing mel gibson and gm crops).
Eamonn McCann, 24 Jun 2004
I’m standing for election again. This time for the European Parliament. Under the banner of the Socialist Environmental Alliance. We can’t make up our minds whether Red Sea or Sea-Green is the more suitable catch phrase for poster inscription. There are six other candidates, but as far as I’m concerned, they can all go fuck themselves. Because we have Henry McCullough on-side. Even as I write, the man from Woodstock, Wings, the Grease Band and other still-glimmering glories is holed up with Peter O’Hanlon in a gulch in the badlands along the Derry-Antrim border, readying up a set for a Sandino’s fund-raiser on Tuesday night.
Terry Hooley is on the track of a similarly sensational poptastical event within the environs of Belfast.
Ali McMordie has weighed in from New York with encouragement and permission to blast votes to the booths with ‘Alternative Ulster’.
How could we lose? When every vote we win will be a victory.
How quickly The Passion Of The Christ has cooled. Just a few weeks ago, so it seems, the media were thrumming with intense disputation. Was it a holy tract or a horror movie? Would it deliver a boost to Christian fundamentalism? Heighten hostility between Christians and Jews?
We should be able to tell better now what effect the film has had. Are more people attending church? Particular churches? Has there been a rise, or fall, in anti-semitic incidents?
But maybe we have been applying the wrong measure. Perhaps Passion will prove a slow burner. It may work, against all expectations, to diminish Christianity’s appeal. Because the lasting thought it will have left in many minds is that the central tenet of Christianity – that Jesus died for our sins – doesn’t make sense.
Jesus is said to have died to expiate Original Sin. This arose when Adam disobeyed God, and has been passed down ever since. How and why is nowhere explained. For the very good reason that it’s inexplicable. Or, as Christians would have it, a mystery.
How can responsibility for a disobedient act be inherited? How can the anger of the fellow whose orders weren’t followed be assuaged by his son being tortured to death?
If anybody out there can explain these things, I’ll publish the revelation. I don’t anticipate having to deliver on this undertaking. I don’t believe there is a person anywhere who can provide a plausible account of the belief on which the edifice of Christianity has been built.
What’s more, while Gibson’s depiction of Jesus being criss-cross slashed until he looks like chopped liver and then flipped over so his other side can be flayed to a pulp excited horror and pity in the cinema where I watched it, it occurred to me, too, that the Son of God will have been able to console himself as he endured the pain with the thought that by sundown he’d be swanking around paradise with an eternity of bliss to look forward to. Dreadful as the scourging must have been, Jesus’ overall package wasn’t a bad deal. His suffering was mercifully swift. All over in a day. Better than years of slow agony and nothing bright to look forward to.
Gibson, to make his point, had to lay on the horror, show Jesus’ flesh flapping. He presented the most vividly bloody death the audience will ever have encountered on screen. But that’s because almost all movies soften the reality of violent death. Jesus’ wasn’t the worst death ever. Millions suffer worse deaths every year.
As the movie settles in the memory, it may generate such thoughts, from which it will be but a small step to a realisation that religion is bunk.
Maybe you missed the announcement that genetically modified crops have been given the green light in Ireland.
The decision came from a Ms. Angela Smith. She’s one of the Blairite third-raters sent over from London to run Northern Ireland. She’s got charge of agriculture, sport and, for all I know, Ulster Scots and trade with Patagonia.
Smith told the Commons that, “Ultimately, it will be for farmers and consumers to decide whether they want GM crops and food.” This is nonsense. Northern farmers and consumers had no say in the decision she was announcing. Why should they believe their views will be decisive at some later stage?
Smith’s announcement came hard on the heels of UK Environment Minister Margaret Beckett telling that “the Government and the Devolved Administrations”: had approved GM following a “national debate” launched in 2002. In fact, the North’s devolved administration was in a permanent state of crisis throughout this period. The “debate” made no dent in public consciousness. The vast majority of Northerners were dumbfounded to discover that they’d been involved in debate on the matter at all.
When we look at the published results of the debate across the water, it’s plain that New Labour paid not a blind bit of notice anyway. The official report tells that the public mood, “ranged from caution and doubt, through suspicion and scepticism, to hostility and rejection.” These attitudes, it admitted, “far outweighed any degree of support or enthusiasm for GM.”
The report continued: “The more people engage in GM issues, the harder their attitudes and more intense their concerns… In particular, the more they choose to discover about GM the more convinced they are that no-one knows enough about the long-term effects of GM on human health.”
Smith, incidentally, has undertaken to hold discussion with Dublin on “the cross-border implications of GM crop cultivation, co-existence and voluntary GM-free zones.” But unless she has come up with a means of making the border impenetrable to cross-pollination, this is just more genetically modified nonsense.
It’s stand by your battle-stations on this one.