Note: This piece dates from 2001 but I think it’s still worthy of inclusion
There has been a major breakthrough in the war against international terrorism thanks to a discovery made, yet again, by an Irishman, the famous author Colm Toibin, whose rise in popularity in British literary salons has been nothing short of meteoric.
Just two years after being short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1999, Toibin is now in line to clinch the 2001 Nobel Prize for Psychobabble after his findings were published in the respected journal, ‘The London Review of Books’ on 29th November.
The DUP, the CIA, retired militarists such as Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, General Pinochet and Brigadier Frank Kitson, the leader writers of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and the ‘Sunday Times’, and even more important tabloids, have hailed Mr Toibin’s work as ‘ground-breaking’, ‘beautiful in its simplicity’ and ‘cost effective’.
Mr Toibin’s remarks about his decades-long study – ‘Guevara’s Children’ – were published as part of an LRB debate on the bombings in the USA on September 11th. This is what he had to say.
‘Over the past twenty-five years in Ireland I have made a point of asking anyone who was at school with members of the IRA, the INLA, the UDA and the UVF what these people were like at the age of ten. All have agreed that each child displayed a nasty early sign of terrorism long before he had a “cause”. One of them spoke for many others when he described his schoolmate, the embryonic terrorist, as “a resentful little cunt”. Had a cause not come their way, these people would have beaten their dogs or their wives and children, attacked one another at hurling matches or taken out their resentment on a long back garden.’
Some experts have described Toibin’s theory as sheer bunkum, comparing it to the now discredited theory of Phrenology (or Bumpology as it came to be known) which claimed that criminals could be spotted from the shape of their heads. (Incidentally, Colm Toibin denies using the same head as Ronnie Flanagan during interviews and on the cover of his books.)
An angry Toibin has released some of the interviews on which he based his findings to the ‘Andersonstown News’ and asks people to make up their own minds. Below we publish a representative sample.
Eoghan Harris: ‘Well Colm, as you said, the changes certainly started when she was ten. In primary seven she began calling herself The Markievicz, grew a beard, came to school wearing a beret and bought a tin whistle on which she played Christy Moore tunes. She might be the President now but we all know where she’s coming from.’
Chris Patten: ‘In our class, Colm, there was a big ten-year-old eejit called Myers who wore a steel helmet, marched up and down the corridor left-right-left-right, blowing a whistle and shouting, “Over the top! Over the top!” I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear that he now runs the Provos.’
Lord Gerry Fitt of Hells Bells: ‘Eeen now shins ivers down ma back, dinking bout it. Tin, yah tin, in da dirties. Nashews, brrrr ft, uckin snow upta der neck. Uckin ounder ya. Na shenterl eatin den. Ouside privy. No twubbles. Oranges and greens, hand in hand. No armed kites or KA47s. Even den iwas inder showshillingism, beg time. I was a grate, big showshillingist. James Conley, da Goalie in France, Nickson in China, de missus Tatcher. Days were da days. Den da Provos dood an ucked it all up an ave bin livin overear ever shince. Wit a gun in de ole olster. Pow! Pow! Der dead! Jessie James, dat’s me. Ever sins I was den, in me chaps an on my orse. Giddy up Silver or I’ll giv ya the uckin spurs! Injuns comin!’
Having heard about the findings British Home Secretary David Blunkett has invited Toibin to a war-cabinet meeting with Mr Blair in 10 Downing Street. They are seeking his professional advice in drawing up lists to determine how many 10-year-old Muslim schoolchildren they would need to intern, given that every one of them have shown signs of ‘resentment’ at being racially demonised, are certainly ‘little’, and thus fulfil two of Toibin’s scientific criteria in the psychological profile of your typical embryonic terrorist.
This great news for Colm – or should we say, in anticipation, Sir Colm! – has unfortunately been overshadowed by a hurtful accusation of plagiarism from Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon claims that he invented the theory first, and as proof cites Israeli government policy of shooting embryonic Palestinian terrorists before they reach the age of eleven. Toibin has stoutly rebutted this accusation, and has referred to the influence of Dean Jonathan Swift on his work
‘I do admit being influenced by Swift’s “Modest Proposal” of 1729. It is true that the children of the Irish poor were a burden on their parents and the country. Swift’s advocating that Irish children under six be roasted as meat for English tables was revolutionary and way ahead of its time. My theory simply represents a creative reworking of his brilliant idea in order to deal with underage terrorists, smokers and drinkers. We may have a difficulty with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the NSPCC and Children in Need, but Tony and I are not prepared to let that get in the way. After all, it’s not as if we’re forcing the kids to go up chimneys.’