“Kiss me, I am Irish”
(Life and Death of Kenneth Bigley)
By Sasha Litkevich
“Yes, here also they cry over ‘peaceful citizen Bigley.’ Now imagine
that during the Great Patriotic War a German colonist comes to the
occupied Ukraine or Belorussia with the intention to “help the locals
to build a proper way of life,” just like Bigley did, and the partisans
killed him. Today, this would be qualified as “a terrorist act.” Hitler
should have been born later, he was clearly ahead of his time.”
(From a letter from Russia)
… “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” You can see this cheerful one-liner on shirts
and kitchen towels in every souvenir shop in Dublin that caters to the typical
Yankee who imagines himself Irish if he only happens to have a last name like
Conway or O’Connor.
Ken Bigley was Irish for three days only. The Irish government granted
him citizenship three days before the news of his death came out. The announced
reason was "because his mother was Irish". But if Bigley were indeed serious
about his "Irishness" he could have asked and be granted Irish citizenship
any time according to Ireland's laws.
Yet for 62 years Bigley apparently did not feel any need to become a citizen
of Ireland. Being British was much more for convenient for him as when he
emigrated to work in Australia and then in New Zealand, when he returned to
England and was running two supermarkets there, when he later runned a bar,
and again when after divorce he went to Spain and also had a bar there. British
citizenship also helped Bigley find gainful employment in the countries of
the Persian Gulf --the US semi-colonies. He saw as little sense in becoming
Irish as to be considered a citizen of Thailand after his second marriage
to a young Thai girl, quite typical for a graying Western businessman.
What makes you think Bigley wanted to be Irish? This sentimental nonsense
could hardly occur to this sober practical man in all those years that he
wandered around the world to make a fast buck, changing countries and occupations
like gloves. This is how he, in the end, turned up in the occupied Iraq.
It was just greed, pure and simple. Bigley's dream was early retirement
and he saw Iraq as the "land of opportunity" to make this dream true.
It is only when that happened to Ken Bigley what, in his mind, could happen
to anybody but him that he was ready to become even Chinese or Russian to
save his neck. But the Irish passport did not help him either .... And why
should it? Why other peoples, oppressed by the imperialists, should have
some special respect for the Irish who allow American bombers to use the
Shannon airport on their way to kill these peoples? Why should the oppressed
of the world, while defending themselves, spare the Irish who have been finally
granted the status of the "whites" and admitted into the clubhouse of the
imperialist "civilization"? Doesn’t Ireland support NATO, despite its declared
traditional neutrality, and does it not participate, to the best of its
abilities, in the exploitation of the rest of the world by the whites? Was
it by accident that the first company that received a contract from US occupiers
to do business in Iraq was Irish?
Why should the people of Iraq, now awash in the blood of their best sons
and daughters, give the Irish some special treatment? Because of their past
suffering? Their pretty blue eyes? Their Guinness beer? Or, perhaps, in
hope of having Irish pubs opened in Iraq?
Mr. Bigley was not a victim of the Great Potato Famine or Cromwell's thugs.
He did not rot in the prisons of Belfast during the hunger strike and the
dirty protests of the 1980s. He was just a petty Western businessman who
had fought his way into becoming "white" from a "humble" but rather well to
do working class family (his father was a shipyard worker). Ken Bigley knew
the risk he was taking. But his urge to make money was just too strong. He
was not an innocent child from Beslan elementary, killed by the "Chechen"
friends of the US and Britain, but a 62- year old man capable of making rational
decisions and taking responsibility for them.
According to Bigley's family, he "simply wanted to help the people of Iraq."
"Simply", but obviously not for free... By "helping" the people of Iraq
the engineer-cum-businessman Bigley hoped to "provide himself with means to
retire." He found this fortunate combination of good deeds and handsome pay
at the US military "facility" at Taji, near Baghdad where he took up a job
providing "base camp life support." Did the Iraqis ask Mr. Bigley for his
help? The plain truth is, Bigley came to Iraq to help "white" invaders to
impose their will on the people with dark skin. The same old story of a
benevolent colonizer, but this time with a modern twist: the colonizer's
working-class origin and his "Irishness". This is what makes the case of
Ken Bigley emblematic of new imperialism. It's people's imperialism, so to
speak, the popular version of Pax Britannica in which the Irish and the working
class have become "white" enough to share in the spoils of their imperialists.
There is something deeply racist in the contrast between the Irish outpouring
of public grief over Bigley's fate, in hastily giving him citizenship he did
not even asked for--even as Ireland has begun deporting the parents of the
children born in Ireland but ethnically non-Irish--and their moral indifference
to the fate of tens of thousands of Iraqis killed by the Anglo-American aggression.
This is also a testimony of the provincial "progressiveness" of the left Irish
nationalists whose public support for Bigley was nothing short of disgusting.
I wish that respectable Irish politicians--from Berth Ahern to the Sinn
Fein President Gerry Adams, who has twice dishonored himself by pleading
for Bigley's life on Al Jazeera TV channel—would explain just what is so
"terrible" in the death of an Irish that is less so in the death of the people
of other nationalities? Why should we shed more tears over Ken Bigley, who
had chosen his fate, than over that young Iraqi groom killed by the Americans
on the day of his marriage together with the children who attended it? Is
it only because Bigley was "white"?
Trying to strengthen the support of the American "Irish"--all those Conways
and O'Connors wrapped in "Kiss Me, I'm Irish!" shirts and towels--who, in
their mass, rallied behind Bush's war, some Irish Republicans, who once struggled
for their own independence from Britain, now "out of tactical considerations,"
as I was told by one of them, lent their support to a man who worked for the
British oppressors of other nation. Isn't it the same old logic of "He is
a bastard, but he is our bastard"?
It seems that the efforts of these Irish Republicans to please the so-called
British "public opinion" by supporting Ken Bigley is paying off. Consider
this response of one "Joel from Birmingham" to Gerry Adams at the UTV site
"Thanks Gerry, you a true friend of the british working class, I dont know
why blairs government stays in ireland. they should give it back to the irish.
Having faced with a choice between the "non-white" Iraqi Resistance and
a far from being poor and oppressed half-Irish hireling of the occupiers,
some Irish Republicans have chosen one of "their own." The "working class
man" Kenneth Bigley--half-Irish, half-British--has been used as a convenient
symbol to forge racial solidarity between the already "white" British working
class and their "aspiring white" Irish brothers. It is this solidarity, sealed
by "white" imperialism, that once again stands in such a poignant contrast
to the last line of the Manifesto and blocks its realization. Lenin called
There is only one conclusion to be made out of this story. In the future
struggles between the "non-white" mankind and "white" imperialists we no longer
can count on the former fighters for their own people's rights once they
have been finally admitted into the fold of their former "white" oppressors.