The BBC Wales News coverage to mark the passing of Mr John Barnard Jenkins, the former leader of the group Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru who was responsible for a bombing campaign in the 1960s highlighted the power of language.
The author failed to label Jenkins as a terrorist or even to describe his actions as terrorism. Instead, the fawning article quoted his biographer Dr Wyn Thomas who described Jenkins as a man of “fierce principle who suffered much for a cause he believed in, and for a country he loved dearly.”
Jenkins, a so-called man of principle yet that principle fell short of trying to argue a case. Rather than seeking to pursue a political route to advance his cause, Jenkins and his organisation chose to pursue violence.
The article highlighted the bombing campaign in the run-up to the Investiture of the Prince of Wales only claimed two lives, those of two members of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru killed when a device exploded unexpectedly. However, one of the devices planted on Jenkins orders resulted in maiming a child when the device exploded.
One has to suspect that the child may object and argue that in losing a limb, he suffered far more for the cause that Jenkins supported. A child losing a limb strikes me as a heavy price to pay compared to a terrorism organiser receiving a custodial sentence as a consequence of his actions.
The piece may have provided historical context to the bombing campaign, namely Aberfan and the drowning of Capel Celyn. However, the author also chose to place quotes from Jenkins interview with Wales Online that leave the reader under the impression that Jenkins was a moderating influence on Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru.
“I spent a lot of time in the weeks before the investiture travelling around in an army civilian car, reining people in. They were becoming more, well, savage as the ceremony approached.
They would say, ‘The answer’s simple. There can’t be an Investiture if we kill him’. And I would have to stress, ‘OK, but what the hell will we achieve politically if we do? Nothing.”
John Barnard Jenkins
To conclude in such a manner ignores the reality that such moderation on Jenkins behalf did not prevent him from making explosive devices, organising the placement of explosive devices and exposing the public to risk.
The article failed to describe Jenkins as a terrorist and afforded little criticism of his actions. Instead, the piece descended into a fawning obituary scant on detail. An article, that sought to portray Jenkins as a reluctant, almost tragic figure who we should be grateful to for reining in the worst impulses of his organisation.