I still remember standing in Royal Avenue, Belfast in 1995, with a couple of hundred thousand others who’d turned up for the first visit of the Clinton Mafia, all of us there to see Bill turn on our Christmas tree lights. The atmosphere was jovial; I remember the crowd cheekily ribbing the then-president after some offhand reference to his daughter, Chelsea. We liked Bill. We gave him a warm welcome. Bill was a hit, touring the Falls and Shankill, getting out of his limo to shake hands with the working folk. Yes, Bill was not so grand that he turned his nose up at the regular Joe.
This was, of course, years before he bombed Sudan and later Yugoslavia in order to kill all speculation about the warm, wet places into which he liked to stick his cigars. And back then, the Lolita Express was still only the secret folly of a rampant, happy paedo. That said, I get the impression that Clinton’s warm charisma still overshadows his misadventures. I sense no real hostility towards him from the general public. He has held onto his reputation, criticism for him confined to those corners of the internet that are populated mostly by those branded ‘conspiracists’. Regardless, Bill seems to have withdrawn from the public eye of late. The face of the Clinton Mafia is now Hillary, who recently set foot in Belfast again to accept the chancellorship of Queen’s University, the first woman to do so in its history. Her inauguration was overshadowed by a group of fringe protestors who heckled her from the gates of the university with cries of “War criminal scumbag!”, “Pure evil!”, and, bizarrely, “Yankee!”. The only thing that upsets me about these protests is that they were not more widely attended or vocally supported. I think her appointment to such a position is an act of incredibly wilful ignorance and folly. But what can I do? It’s all too easy for people like the Clintons to whitewash their reputations, people who, like the Bushes and the Bidens of this world, seem to me nothing more than an organized cartel who hold on to their position at the top of the establishment by a combination of inherited privilege, money, political thuggery and the deceptive face of philanthropy.
Yes, as you may be intuiting at this point, I have my own particular dislike for her, a dislike that borders on loathing. Much of it stems from that video of her gloating over the death of Gaddafi. What was the guy’s crime, does anyone remember? He seemed like a weird dude to me, but undeserving of the death that Clinton’s jihadis inflicted upon him. Among the countless war crimes of the 21st century, the US-French destruction of Libya should be considered one of the worst, and yet it’s already mostly forgotten, consigned to the memory hole of collective forgetting. We don’t care to dwell on such things.
Lots of things get lost down the memory hole these days. Queens University, we hope, is suffering from some form of collective amnesia. How else would they be convinced that the appointment of Hillary Rodham Clinton to the position of chancellor was a good idea? I’ll come clean, I was under the mistaken impression that ‘chancellor’ was merely a titular role. I did a quick check. I was wrong. A chancellor, in fact, is ‘ultimately responsible to the president for all academic, fiscal, and administrative matters at the campus’. Fiscal, you say? Do please tell us more, Queen’s…
Despite their best attempts to maintain a squeaky clean image, speculation has been rife over the years about the shady business dealings of the former first family. The Clinton Foundation, for example (that many in Washington and beyond consider nothing but a political slush fund), the organisation that looked so dodgy on paper that the Clintons’ lawyers and even their own daughter thought was corrupt. And Uranium One – anyone recall that? Russian money flowing into Clinton coffers… make up your own mind. To the council of Queen’s University, I ask, ‘Who are you in bed with?’
I do wonder what shady financial arrangements were birthed from that diabolical union. I might even feel ashamed, but I never studied there myself. I left my home city and went to Glasgow to get my degree. Glasgow doesn’t have a celebrity chancellor, to my knowledge, and for that, I’m grateful. I don’t believe the appointment of Clinton to her role does anything at all to improve the academic rigour of the North’s ‘most prestigious’ university. If anything, it only degrades it.
I worked in Belfast City Cemetery some years ago and heard a story while I was there about an unfortunate young lad who was assaulted in Falls Park by a crowd of hoods sniffing glue. The youth was attacked, beaten and had a broom handle shoved into his rectum. An appalling thing for anyone to suffer. But if those gluebags are still out there, I’d like to suggest that there’s one woman newly arrived in Belfast who may be deserving of such an introduction.
Karma and all that, you know…
‘The Clinton Mafia back in Belfast’, by Ultan Banan. Please note: flash fiction, nonfiction and all other content is the sole work of Black Tarn. Ask before republishing.