His act opened up a new era in Irish and British understanding and since then the scholarship of the Famine, now that it has been removed from partisan dispute, has been transformed. It is fitting that Christine Kinealy, the leading Irish famine scholar and now head of the Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Hamden Connecticut, is actually a Liverpool Irish native.
All the more reason then for the South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, herself a daughter of Indian immigrants, should take down the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina capitol after the horrific events there this past week.
Make no mistake: the scumbag white racist Dylann Roof paid homage to that flag, believed in the message of racial superiority and was photographed with its decal.
To have that flag flying in a week when so much tragedy was visited on innocent churchgoers in Charleston is a denial of human rights and, worse, the human spirit. We Irish know the consequences of flag flying, with Northern Ireland nationalists forced to live for decades under a union flag they felt no allegiance to. Those flags remain a huge issue today.
The millions of blacks forced to bear witness to the Confederate flag flying over their state capital must feel the same way. The craven cowardice of politicians who refuse to lower that flag are betraying the essential cornerstone of America -- the belief that all are born equally.
That was certainly not true in the American Civil War when 4 million blacks were in abject slavery but it should be true day even with all its flawed symbolism.
Ronald Reagan once went to the Berlin Wall and demanded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev take down the wall keeping communism in power in East Germany. A few years later, communism collapsed. Reagan had been warned not to do it because of the upset it would cause but he persevered knowing his cause was right.
Is there any Republican politician with that chutzpah to face down the racist flag logo mob approving slavery's symbol?
Sadly I doubt it , which is more the pity. The examples of Britain and Reagan show clearly the benefits that can accrue from political courage.
The dead of South Carolina are crying out for such justice. Their insane killer can point to that flag as tacit approval of his actions.
Which side will the state’s leaders be on?