In the Dark

The Genetics of Hate and Mercy

The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Produced by UK Film Council
Directed by Ken Loach
Screenplay by Paul Laverty
Distributed by IFC First Take

Last month, scientists at Oxford University reported that there are no significant genetic differences between the British and the Irish.  Their announcement might almost have been timed as a sardonic backdrop to the power-sharing agreement that Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams is entering into with his archenemy, Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.  Now that Catholics and Protestants know they share the same DNA, will they quit shooting one another?  We probably shouldn’t get our hopes up.  The human urge to indulge suspicion and hatred seems as deeply encoded in us as the color of our skin and hair.  Our genes, it turns out, are as likely to be ignoble as decorative.

While you’re waiting for the outcome of this latest peace process, you may want to get an inkling of how ignoble genes have fueled the violence in Ireland for the past 85 years.  If so, seek out Ken Loach’s new film, When the Wind Shakes the Barley.  Keep in mind, however, that the ink-ling Loach serves up is heavily larded with Marxist sentimentality.

Loach has taken his title from a ballad written by the 19th-century poet Robert Dwyer Joyce. ...

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