Alex Kane summed it up pretty well in less than 140 characters in a Twitter post:
Loyalist rioters on Friday in Belfast. IRA celebrants in Castlederg on Sunday. Both stupid. Both offensive. And both deliberate. Depressing.
We hear lots about these ridiculous parades and pointless protests honouring the dead or defending culture – but really they are about provocation and disrespect.
People have suggested that I’m in favour of banning parades. I’m not. The Libertarian in me wonders whether there is any point in a ‘Parades Commission.’ Why not just let the parades happen and see what happens? But that’s not the point.
The point is this: our so-called political leaders need to be saying that these parades are incompatible with decency. Why do so many of our people actively seek to annoy their neighbours?
The answer, of course, lies at the heart of our politics and civil society. There’s a deep malevolence that seems to say, repeatedly, that it’s OK to assume some type of group moral superiority over another group. This assumption results, often, in politicians sanctioning protest or parade to argue home this moral superiority. But it’s a zero-sum game. Where once, in our society, we had tit-for-tat killing, now we have tit-for-tat protesting and parading. Just as the tit-for-tat killing had to stop, it’s also time for the constant protesting to cease.
I’m not suggesting it will cease overnight. As a society we have more than our fair share of under-educated and under-parented. Too many people in our society, and far too many of our so-called political leaders, see nothing wrong in the constant picking of sores and salting of wounds. But, for most of us, it’s a sickening sight. We’re bored with this. We don’t identify any more with either group. We don’t want to be associated with them. We just want these annoyances to cease.
I’ve long been of the view that far too many of our politicians will never be able to argue for a better way. We need a wholesale replacement. But what won’t do is a scaled-down and “decent” version of the two tribe mentality. We’re done with the tribes. We need to move on. I simply don’t recognise them. I don’t identify with them. I want a politics that refuses to accept that a two-tribe cultural recognition in any form is the way of the future.
Our so-called non-sectarian parties have failed to grasp this. They argue that quota-controlling and tribally hard-wired “integrated schools” are the way forward. They’re not. Secular schools are. They argue that we need reconciliation. We don’t – because most of us have never identified with either tribe in the first place. They assume that we can’t assume an association with a constitutional position. Rubbish. A vast majority of our people (and across the religious divide) now prefer the maintenance of the Union – and most for largely practical reasons.
Nationalism sucks: British and Irish. We’re moving towards a post-Nationalist society. We’re bored with the pointless squabbles. We’re done with the debate – because there is no solution to it. Groundhog day is done. Let’s start saying that these protests, marches, walks, celebrations, and anniversaries get us no further forward. They embarrass us, they destroy our image, they lead us singularly nowhere.