Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On January 30, ...

... 1972, in Derry, the 2d largest city in the North of Ireland, British paratroopers opened fire on unarmed civil rights demonstrators. In the end 14 persons died, all but 1 on the day, and others were wounded. In the Associated Press photo at left, Father Edward Daly waves a white hankerchief as others carry a casualty out of the line of fire.
Among those present on that Bloody Sunday was a youth who'd celebrated his 18th birthday just weeks before. When the shooting started he crouched behind a concrete abutment, just yards away from some of those who died. On the anniversary of the event in 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed by Peter D. O'Neill, that youth. The op-ed appeared on what happened to be the day of the much-vaunted elections in Iraq. O'Neill noted that after the shootings in Derry the local people had turned away from occupying troops, and, in words that proved sadly prophetic, wrote of his concern that the same thing might happen in Iraq:

It is the lesson of Bloody Sunday that, from Fallujah to Nasiriyah, from Mosul to Baghdad, we can expect violence every day that foreign troops remain on Iraq's soil. We can hope for no positive change without a full withdrawal of coalition forces -- a solution called for this week by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma -- so that Iraqis may take the lead in their own affairs. Based on Bush's second inaugural address, however, we can look only to four more years of unlearned and ineffective policy. And so we can muster no optimism about today's elections in Iraq.

... 1913, Britain's House of Lords rejected a bill that would have accorded to Ireland Home Rule, a modicum of self-government.

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