Clash of Culture: Response to Boston College’s Jack Dunn

A response to the comments of Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn
Carrie Twomey
The Pensive Quill
27 July 2014

Carrie Twomey, the wife of researcher Anthony McIntyre, with the first of two pieces taking Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn to task over his comments in a recent WGBH radio interview

Jack Dunn unwittingly hit the nail on the head in his snide reference to my husband’s 18 years in Long Kesh as an IRA prisoner. He called the difference in approach to protecting the oral history archives of the IRA held at Boston College a clash of cultures. He couldn’t be more right.

Interrupted on his Cape Cod vacation to deal with responding to the fears of participants of the project, who now feel they are living under threat of death as documented by Kevin Cullen in the Boston Globe, he left his beach bonfire of marshmallows while in Belfast the bonfires of hate ignited effigies of Gerry Adams, images of Stormont, and Irish flags defaced with slogans like “Kill All Taigs [Catholics]”.

In Belfast, the government turns a blind eye to these displays, and ignores – in some cases even facilitates – the intimidation of the gunmen. It is left to the isolated few to raise their voices, resist, and call attention to the wrongs that need righted.

In Boston, or at least in Boston College as explained by Mr Dunn, questioning the action of the governments is not needed nor even countenanced. Ironic that, in the birthplace of the American Revolution. But this is not just evidence of a clash of cultures between Boston and Belfast, resistance and compliance; the clash over the handling of the history of the Troubles is also very much a clash of the decisions of a powerful elite and the powerless people who have to live with the consequences of their arrogant and entitled ignorance.

Jack Dunn’s Ivory Tower is very far removed from the reality that led to the creation of the archives and the reality that needs those archives to both exist and be protected. It explains why he and those in the Boston College administration don’t seem to have a clue at the disaster they have wrought. And sadly, what we are experiencing in this case is not that different from what many on the powerless side of the widening gap between the realities of the Jack Dunns of this world and the rest of us go through every day.

The Belfast Project documented the lives of resisters – both Republican and Loyalist. No matter Boston College’s illustrious past of involvement in Ireland and its peace process – Jack Dunn has exposed how out of touch the College is with reality. Naively entrusting the voice of the powerless and a history of resistance into the hands of the powerful blasé was one of the biggest mistakes of all in this ongoing nightmare.

Boston College is quite content to adorn itself in Ireland’s Troubles as long as it brings prestige and lucrative funding. It makes a fortune off of the US State Department doing so, and used to refer to the Belfast Project as the ‘crown jewels’ of the Burns Library. But when it is time to pay the piper for the Wearing of the Green, Jack Dunn shows exactly what BC’s true colors are made out of: the blood red of Ireland’s past and the yellow streak of Benedict Arnold.