Breaking Glass

The Daughter of Time

There are many familiar signs that one is growing old, but I would like to propose a new candidate for the list.  You know you have lived a long time when ideas and theories that would once have been regarded as fatuous nonsense suddenly become respectable and mainstream.

Earlier this year, the British government finally admitted that the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in the Northern Irish city of Derry (Londonderry) were unjustified and unlawful, and apologized to the families of those slain.  British soldiers might even face criminal charges for their actions on that day.  In itself, the apology might not seem remarkable, given the blatant nature of the acts: You need have no sympathy for the IRA to recognize Bloody Sunday as a callous massacre of noncombatants.  But this official reinterpretation now joins an alarmingly long list of similar rethinkings of events during the Troubles.  And in virtually every case, the view that has now become incontestable orthodoxy would, if expressed at the time, have been regarded as bizarre, flaky, and absurd.  The conclusion is disturbing.  At least in the Irish case, if you tended to believe lunatic conspiracy theories about official behavior, you were likely to be proved correct more often than if you held fast to the sober consensus of mainstream society and media.

Bloody Sunday was critically important for the subsequent development of the crisis in Northern...

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