The Free Presbyterian Tsar Ian Paisley makes Edmund Burke's argument: that democracy is weak on the point that demagogues can seduce and co-opt the electorate. The Bannside demagogue did this. Paisley radicalised, backwardised and brutalised the unionist electorate with his brutal mob-Calvinism of Lord George Gordon. He was a walking-talking Ralph Steadman cartoon. A vulgar religious racketeer, manipulator and exploiter who made every catholic and catholic-friendly protestant the enemy.
Just as Northern Ireland was turning a corner and entering a rapprochement with the catholic half of Northern Ireland and warming to Southern Ireland, Paisley undercut and ruined every last moderate unionist politician and the "groundswell of moderate opinion."
The crazed hedge-preacher was one man but he was a fountainhead for a franchise of protestant god-politics that captured a whole constituency with hypnotic rhetoric. It was one man but nobody had Paisley's power to whip up hysteria of the Lundy sell-out.
The fountainhead made a franchise of his Gordon Riots-Calvinism, incubating a whole generation of impressionable young men to believe in their religious exceptionalism, fear the other and to never to give an inch. From this he has gifted the world a whole party of low brow yokel politicians who think the world is 3,000 years old.
Paisley is dead temporally, but alive ideologically. Continuity Paisleyism is skippering Northern Ireland. Continuity Paisleyism, a band of politicians (somewhere between the Tory far right and the BNP) who are at odds with British politics and Northern Ireland society.
The senile cleric made a living off the credulity and prejudices of others, procuring, sponsoring and mobilising bigotry and hatred. With his religious bombast and division he deepened sectarian tensions, helped start the Troubles (see Cameron Report of 1969) and filled both wings of the H-block. Simultaneously being a mouth piece for the republican and loyalist paramilitaries.
He spurned secularism and enlightenment ideas for the Nazarene dust ideology and perfectly entwined religion with politics, opening the door for every kind of religious intolerance and absolutism. It was politics not of policy and progress, but politics of prejudice and paranoia.
I don't need to walk back the cat through his career, we've had a wave of moist wikipedia rip-offs lauding the career of this sordid bigot. What we do need is a fair and full appraisal of the man (we do have some here) and I've explained here why we should have no truck with the death convention which prohibits and outlaws fair criticism.
His unionism is not my unionism. His sectarian violence is not my heritage. He was not a broker of peace but a stoker of unpeace. He was not a peace maker but a peace preventer. A stoker of unpeace and a peace preventer for half a century who, 7 years before his passing, did a volte-face.
This is not about me being an opportunist or airtime hungry but a principled person who happens to be a unionist who will not allow some low life religious mad man to be deified into some benevolent statesman.
This man was an atavistic anachronism who appealed to man's lowest instinct, fear and loathing of the other. He helped to rain rage and ruin on Northern Ireland and so deserves ruthless examination.
I feel a duty to speak out because moderate unionism failed so catastrophically by allowing Unionism to fall into the hand of a luminous sectarian, transparent blimp, bellow and religious bigmouth. I feel a duty because Paisley is still in control of Northern Ireland through DUP-Continuity Paisleyism.
It was silence and pusillanimity that sustained Paisley as he evangelised and proselytised his virulent religio-politics. Only an end to silence will end the DUP reign of incompetence. I believe in the Union and that Union is made stronger by making Northern Ireland fair, free and open for all. Yet the DUP has capitulated and surrendered to the violent micro client-communities. As Newton Emerson said:
"[The DUP's] true vision is a retreat into a patchwork of ethnic laagers, with Northern Ireland becoming a Catholic Bosnia overlaid with a Protestant Republika Srpska. What other explanation can there be when ten loyalists with a ladder outweigh the 40% of Catholics in upper Ormeau who, even now, have made their peace with partition?"
This is a divided, vivisected Northern Ireland. This is the inheritance of Paisleyism, a noxious, nefarous ideology that broke and bankrupted Northern Ireland for decades and which now stands firm against reconciliation and a plurality of views.
To use the words of Gore Vidal, hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.