By tradition of a couple of centuries’ standing as such things go, mid-July marks the beginning of the “marching season” in Northern Ireland, when members of the Protestant Orange Order don sashes and bowlers and parade up and down the streets of Belfast, Bangor, Portadown, and other sites where by custom they flaunt their historical dominance over the Catholic population. Catholics (also known as Republicans, though the two are not coterminous) have often responded with bricks, bottles, Molotov cocktails, riot and mayhem. The exchange has become something of a national sport or at least evokes a sense of identity. It persists.
This summer, however, as the World Cup saga fades from the headlines and Europe gears up for more commemorations of the beginning of the catastrophic First World War, the marching season has been strangely peaceful. At least so far. There is plenty of violence elsewhere, however. And with the violence, recrimination. The blame game resumes.
Comrade Putin is wagging the finger of shame at Ukraine for causing the missile attack that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17… Ukraine is blaming the Russians. Israeli politicians are blaming Hamas for the slaughter of Palestinian children, women, and elderly non-combatants for the lethal air assaults and ground invasion of Gaza… Hamas is blaming Israelis for provoking them to shoot rockets, mostly harmlessly, into southern Israel… In Iraq, Syria, and South Sudan, Christians, tribal minorities, and non-combatants are made to suffer by means of merciless slaughter and expulsions, voluntary and non-voluntary that have made the summer a record-breaker for political refugees, as if somehow it was their fault.
Blaming victims for atrocities is probably as old as humankind’s propensity for territorial expansion, ethnic superiority, and religious intolerance. At some point, can’t someone, somewhere stop the insanity?