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“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 (http://www.utv.ie/newsroom/indepth.asp?pt=n&id=50948)

"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 it "social-imperialism."

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.

Translated by Vadim Stolz

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