I’ve now begun to view America through my Fermanagh prism

Posted By: November 02, 2022

I’ve now begun to view America through my Fermanagh prism

                      By Fr. Sean McManus

(This letter was sent to newspapers in Ireland, but none published it. Because it makes valid points —and points that nobody else has made—we publish it here with a few additions).


Letters to the Editor. October 8, 2022.
Dear Editor,
I came to America on October 2, 1972. On February 6, 1974, I founded the Irish National Caucus. On International Human Rights Day, December 10, 1978. I opened the first ever Irish office on Capitol Hill to “get the U.S. Congress to stand up for justice in Ireland,” because “Ireland, too, has the right to be One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Since that time, I have lived and worked under the shadow of the magnificent Dome of the U.S. Capitol.

And during all those years, I not only used my innate and native County Fermanagh knowledge to explain to Americans and the U.S. Congress the problem in The North/Northern Ireland, but I also began to view that problem through an American prism: the importance of a republican form of government as opposed to a monarchy; the importance of  a written, non-sectarian constitution as opposed to the unwritten, uncodified, sectarian  British constitution; separation of Church and State as opposed to England’s system; so forth and so on.

But since the White racist/fascist attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, I have —in an attempt to better understand that madness —ironically started to view America through my Fermanagh lens: the Capitol attack is to me reminiscent of September 28, 1912, when close to 500,000 Protestants signed the Ulster Covenant, with all its attendant evils. Just like the white racists feared their privileged position was being eroded in America, the Protestants feared their privileged position was being threatened by Home Rule. And they were prepared, by all means possible, to fight His Majesty’s government, police, and army—even to prefer rule by Germany, from which they also armed themselves. The Protestants (the people of “law and order”) were prepared to kill their “own” police and soldiers—just like the white racists (also allegedly pro-police) were prepared to kill—and did kill— their “own” police in the insurrection on January 6.

Another analogy is revealing: Consider what would have happened had if instead of white, middle-aged men attacking the Capitol, the attackers were young Blacks or seen to be Muslim. The likelihood is that they would have been slaughtered by the dozens.
And now, consider if in the height of The Troubles, the Protestants/Unionists/Loyalists tried to sack and plunder

Stormont, how would the police have reacted? And compare that to how the police would have reacted if Stormont had been plundered and sacked by Catholics/Nationalists/Republicans. We all know the answer to that.

It is, therefore, not surprising that Trump (in his reelection campaign, which he lost, against Joe Biden) had many Protestant rightwing, fundamentalist, anti-Catholic supporters in Northern Ireland.

You see, dear reader, racism and sectarianism are the twin-evils of the world, no matter where.
That is what my Fermanagh and American prism —and, of course, the Old Testament Prophets and the Gospel— have shown me. … As the eminent Protestant American Biblical Scholar, Rev. Walter Brueggemann, reminds us: “In Biblical faith, the doing of justice is the primary expectation of God.”