It is hard to take Willie Frazer seriously. For several years I was just prepared to believe that he was well……..a victim. Not a very nice one. But a Victim. Thats the problem with Victims….especially our Troubles victims. Not much (in the grand sheme of things) has happened to me in the years since 1969….and while I would love to think that if the worst had happened to any member of my family that I would be an inspirational advocate for victims (like Alan McBride) or a peace campaigner (like Joyce McCartan) and the truth is that I have never been tested…Thank God….so I just dont know.
Or do I? I know enough about my character to know how petty humiliations such as being stopped and searched by some Kings Own Scottish Borderers (or in some versions of my war diaries…the Black Watch) on the Grosvenor Road in Belfast in 1973. The bastards made me take my shoes off….in the rain….and frankly I hope the bastards roast in Hell. So probably I am no Alan McBride or Joyce McCartan.
The narrow minded “victim” …the unforgiving victim is maybe the kinda victim I would be. In fairness to myself….my nearest and dearest …think I am a better person than I give myself credit for.
Either way….I have for the most part….granted Willie Fraser the courtesy of being a man who has lost family members to Terrorism (as he would see it) in South Armagh and has earned the right to be whatever kinda victim he chose.
Yet he is the most high-profile campaigner for victims….or more precisely SOME victims. For Willie, only the victims of republicans are genuine victims.
He has been …………ahem……understanding of loyalist terrorists, sees little problem with state collusion with loyalists. He was a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment and alleged by a Garda member at the Smithwick Tribunal of being a member of the terrorist group, Red Hand Commando…an allegation he denies. But he has been a fringe unionist politician….never in the mainstream.
As a victims campaigner, he was the leading light in FAIR (Families Acting for Innocent Relatives) but it is an organisation which attracts some controversy because of its use of funding.
The extent to which Frazer is a victim (with or without a political agenda), a self publicist and conspiracy theorist who uses his victimhood to avoid too much scrutiny or just a buffoon….that is a legitimate question. Do we treat him as a knave or a buffoon? He has been the most visible “Flegs protestor” but he does himself an injustice when he claims not to be a public speaker because at heart he is the “man of the people” with the rustic rural accent, an obvious anti-intellectual which the crowd…..lets be frank…..the mob loves. An anti-politician…..but a cute one.
But the combination of being PRIMARILY a victim (in some eyes) and PRIMARILY a buffoon (in some eyes) and PRIMARILY sinister (in some eyes) has effectively meant that there is no consensus around him. No reasonable analysis.
Is he bad? Is he mad? Is he dangerous to know?