What would Rudyard Kipling say …

… about Rep. Peter King (R-NY)? Maybe something like this:

We are not ruled by terrorists,
but only by – their friends.

Perhaps he might say,

… about Rep. Peter King (R-NY)?

Just guessing here, but he might say:


We are not ruled by terrorists
but only by – their friends.

At least King is straightforward: he’s not against terrorism as a tactic. He approved of it when the IRA did it because he was on their side; he disapproves of al Qaeda not because it murders innocents but only because some of those innocents are American. Think of Peter King when people use “Islamic terrorist” as if it were a single word.

Footnote If the greatest regrets are always for temptations resisted, mine must surely be my failure, when Gerry Adams spoke at the Kennedy School, to organize the crowd to whistle “Lilleburlero” as that smiling, expensively dressed bloody-handed racketeer walked up to the stage. The Ulster Catholics had, and have, a legitimate beef. The IRA is primarily an organized-crime group. It should be possible to understand that both of those statements are true.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

13 thoughts on “What would Rudyard Kipling say …”

  1. Terrorists are just frustrated politicians who believe that the ends justify whatever means they wish to use.

  2. Terrorists are just frustrated politicians who believe that the ends justify whatever means they wish to use.

    This is close to how I frame it, too. But you have to muddy the waters a bit by adding “…and think they can get away with.” Cf., Kaddafi, the KKK, the various modern day volunteer border patrol groups, etc.

  3. “Terrorists are just frustrated politicians who believe that the ends justify whatever means they wish to use.”

    This is certainly part of it but leaves out a lot of people who chose to use violence against the state (and civilians). Think your list (and your analysis) needs to be broader – What about George Washington (or at least early Patriot Leaders like Sam Adams or Patrick Henry in 1775/6?. Where do you put violence against a state that is recognized internationally, but is internally violent against its own citizens, for example: South Africa and the ANC led by Nelson Mandela. It’s easy in this country to characterize Yassir Arafat as a terrorist, but the same definition clearly fits both Menachem Begin and Itzaak Shamir and much of the senior Likud leadership. Is early leadership in a terrorist group that later takes power and rules a country in a relatively democratic manner some kind of “immunity” to the terrorist label?

    Seems like a lot of assumptions to be more closely examined here.

  4. For years, Catholic prelates have denied communion to politicians who support choice on abortion, but have not done the same to politicians who supported the IRA. The latter remained in good standing, so far as I know. Were there any pro Sinn Fein US political figures who faced the same sanctions as the prochoice legislators?

  5. This is true of the Republican approach to torture, as well. Rather than object to the process, they object to the intent: if we do it, it’s OK because we mean well. But when others do it to us, it’s forbidden because they are morally incorrect. It’s actually an interesting insight into how such a position is justified, and why liberals tend to be so frustrated when arguing the subject with conservatives.

  6. It’s not clear (to me) what message is sent by whistling Lilliburlero. Not, at first glance, “The Ulster Catholics had, and have, a legitimate beef.”

  7. Possibly Mark is thinking of Lilliburlero as the song that “whistled the Stuarts out of three kingdoms”. It is a confident and self-assured challenge to a tyrant and as such is perfect for confronting a murderous fascist like Adams. Unfortunately, the tune’s message is ambiguous, as it is also the melody of The Protestant Boys, the sort of triumphalist taig-bashing ditty one is likely to hear on the 12th. If you’re going to whistle that, you might as well go all the way and whistle The Sash (which is, I have to say, a jaunty and pleasant tune).

    Better might be to whistle The Queen, whose own ambiguity (same melody as My Country, ‘Tis of Thee) would have made it an appropriate choice for US lawmakers.

    I heartily agree with the intended message, of course. Indeed I’d like to see both Adams and the vile King end their days in an Irish prison for their crimes against Ireland. The Irish state should show no patience to foreign interlopers, be they British or American, who abetted a terrorist band conspiring to destroy it. (That’s right, Noraid supporters and other clueless Irish-Americans: Northern Ireland was not the only political entity on the island that the IRA sought to supplant.)

  8. Right, but what do I whistle if I want to convey “And fuck you, Ian Paisley, as well?” Lilliburlero, unless I still misunderstand its symbolism, seems a little one-sided.

  9. Don,

    what do I whistle if I want to convey “And fuck you, Ian Paisley, as well?”

    I’d suggest the time to worry about that is when it’s Ian Paisley walking up to the stage.

  10. “Possibly Mark is thinking of Lilliburlero as the song that “whistled the Stuarts out of three kingdoms”. It is a confident and self-assured challenge to a tyrant and as such is perfect for confronting a murderous fascist like Adams.”

    Quite so. The Stuarts may have been Scots, but they and their Jacobite supporters were monarchial absolutists and corrupt oppressors of the worst kind. The English were right to resist the scoundrels.

    Lilliburlero is also a hell of a good tune and I will gladly sing it in Peter King’s face if given the opportunity. I’m of mixed Irish Catholic and Protestant heritage, by the way.

  11. The very first line of Lilliburlero sets the tone:
    Ho, brother Teague, dost hear the decree?
    “Teague” was an insulting name for an Irishman, like Paddy but worse, perhaps on the order of Sambo.
    And the rest of the song exults over the victory of the English over James II at the Battle of the Boyne, leading to over two centuries of oppression.
    Why on earth would you want to sing that song?

    I’m not at all sure what you mean by quoting Kipling, but it’s worth noting that “Cleared” is a spectacularly disingenuous piece of anti-Irish propaganda.

  12. That matches my first impression. If I believe (as I do) that both English colonialism and terrorism are wrong, it makes no sense to decry one by praising the other.

    I may want to rebuke Barack Obama, but I’m not going to whistle Dixie to do it.

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