So our task this week was to analyze three related Wikipedia pages. This is something I was excited about because honestly, the first place people check these days when they need information quickly is Wikipedia.
Article 1: “The Great Famine (Ireland)”
The article gives information relevant and important to understanding the causes of the potato blight and also the effect of the blight on the country. The most interesting portion of this article is the argument in the talk section. One of the subsections is called “Not a Famine, Technically,” in the section a user details why this “famine” was really a genocide perpetrated by the British. The British purposely withheld aid that could have prevented the deaths of over one million people. The worst part of the section is this one, “In the larger sense, wouldn’t the Irish Potato
Genocide Famine be just as bad, if not worse than the Armenian Genocide and others, possibly as bad as the Holocaust? This event in history seems to be overlooked, despite the fact that over one million people were starved to death.”
As someone that very, very Irish this idea was shocking to me. First of all, I don’t know a lot about the Armenian Genocide, however, from what I understand The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, property seizure, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. While I agree the British government could have done a lot more to help with the Gorta Mór or Great Hunger. The fact is that the blight wasn’t isolated to Ireland. Ireland was just a country that was heavily impacted by the blight. It can be argued that Britain did cause the starvation of the Irish there was never a time that the United Kingdom rounded up the Irish and killed them all (like the Holocaust). The government simply ignored the problem and when they chose to act did not provide enough aid. The true villains were the landlords who seized property held by their Irish tenants and forced them to either emigrate, go into a workhouse and be separated from their family, or die out in the cold.
Article 2: “Easter Rising”
This article details the armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week in 1916. The rising was launched by Irish republicans to end the Brish rule in Ireland. The article provides background that is needed to explain why the Irish Republicans felt they needed to rise up. After the background, the authors provide background on the planning and the buildup to Easter Week. Then breaks down into subsections the days that made up the week in Dublin.
In the talk section, there is a closed discussion that again has to do with genocide. One user wants to discuss whether the British actions during and after the uprising should be considered genocidal. The editors responded with find a citation from a reliable source using that language and then they would discuss it.
I think the fact that two articles so far have discussed genocide in broad terms displays the stance of many Irish. To some Irish what happened in Ireland were acts of genocide. However, this is not to say that all Irish feel this way. I grew up with knowledge of the Gorta Mór and the Easter Rising. Some of my family views both events as genocidal. After the Rising, the British searched out the rebels and executed them which is where the above discussion originated. Not only did the British search out the active rebels but also those that were not out in the streets causing issues.
Another discussion in the talk section is “the Irish Republic vs. British Empire,” The user that started this discussion believes that it is important to state that the conflict was between the Irish Republic and the British Empire. The “rebels” were fighting with a clear goal and that was the Irish Republic. These men and Women proclaimed the Irish Republic and had taken up arms to defend it. The argument rages on with people explaining that the terminology used is that from academic sources and while they don’t disagree the plain fact is the Irish were rebel forces, not a republic yet. It is really interesting to see the arguments taking place and then go back and re-read the article to see if these arguments and discussions changed anything.
Article 3: “Provisional Irish Republican Army”
Keeping with the theme of Ireland I chose to read about the IRA. For those that don’t know the IRA has existed in many forms since 1916. Initially, the group was called the Irish Volunteers, who staged the Easter Rising. It was a paramilitary group that after World War 1 became active in fighting for Irish Independence. The IRA is still active but not to the extent of the past
PIRA sought the end of British rule in Northern Ireland and want to facilitate the reunification of Ireland. They aimed to do this by causing massive casualties to the British making them want to get out of Ireland. The group is was the successor to the original IRA and called itself Irish Republican Army. The IRA was designated as a terrorist organization in the United Kingdom and an unlawful organization in the Republic of Ireland. One of the IRA’s rules was not to harm anyone of the Republic. Their main goal was to cause as much mayhem to the British.
The talk section was interesting to read because the first section is called “Spades are Spades” in which the poster asks if they can just call a spade a spade and acknowledge that the Provisional IRA are terrorists. The rest of the world has called them such so why can’t Wikipedia. Another section is just about the fact the word “was” should not be in the article because the IRA is still active in Ireland. The poster of this sections states that all the citations claiming the IRA is gone are biases articles and merely depict “diplomatic puffery”. Basically, the IRA is still committing crimes but they are no longer terrorizing Northern Ireland the way they were. I remember my gran telling me stories of going to Belfast in the 1950s-1980s and being told to not go out at night because there were riots. She also told me about an IRA car bomb that went off down the street from where she was staying.
The final discussion in the talk section is about the term “terrorist.” The discussion seems to want to aim for a neutral tone. One poster states that calling the IRA terrorists is pro-British. They feel that there should be a subsection and it should provide both points of view in which the IRA are terrorists and are not terrorists. I have to say I agree. Wikipedia should be neutral and only give the pertinent information. It was interesting to see how people discussed the controversial aspects of the different articles.