This all boils down to a subject I touched upon within a previous article. The public’s perception of what is sectarian / bigoted and the actual facts on what is sectarian / bigoted. I would be the last person to advocate defining ourselves based on how others define us, that is bad for the soul. The problem facing us at the moment is there is only one side being represented to the general public in this debate, which by it’s very definition doesn’t make it a debate. It makes it propaganda. The people informing the wider populace on the nuances of Irish Nationalism vs Anti-Irish racism are sports journalists. These guys are leading, setting and controlling the debate. Sports journalists are the joke of their profession, see Champ Kind in Anchorman for an accurate view of sports journalists by real journalists. The bulk of them are barely functioning half wits riddled with agenda and self-interest. Old media journalism is dying. They cannot be trusted anymore to hold and lead a debate. They are only good for propaganda. The propaganda being spread though is that all songs sung by Celtic about Ireland are sectarian. At best this is ignorant at worst it is insidious agenda pushing. If any of us needed any further reason to doubt the media it is in the reporting of Lenny’s statement where several outlets invented, inserted and then retracted (no doubt after legal coercion) the words “sectarian” “bigoted” and “slurs” from their pieces. The agenda was laid bare.
This is where the problem we have rears its head. The “they are as bad as each other” trap is being laid for next season. The SFA have taken back the right to sanction fan behaviour at all games. This is a massive red flag to our support, or it should be. Previously I have said we need to take the high road, win the battle over hatred and then we can educate the people on the difference between our heritage and hatred. I no longer think that is the case. I don’t think we have time for this course of action to bear fruit. We need to take control now. We need to drive this debate. We have to pre-empt the machinations. When Rangers fans felt under pressure they invented their “We Deserve Butter” campaign. The media didn’t give it blanket coverage due to inherent Rangers bias (well not totally) it was given blanket coverage as it was worth money. It sold papers. It got listeners which in turn sold advertising slots. The old media is being left behind, however they can still serve a purpose as that proves.
When doing some background for this article I came across something Joe O’Rourke said on the CSA website. He calls for “a Summit of Celtic Supporters, by that I mean; along with the Association, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs, the Celtic Trust, the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs, the Green Brigade, the North American federation of Celtic Supporters Clubs; and guys who run web sites which have great influence in the way Celtic fans think, like Paul67 of Celtic Quick News, and Eddie Pearson of Celtic Underground; there are others too who should be involved.”.
That statement is a good one to make but it highlights why we are where we are. Joe there mentions 6 official supporters bodies and then goes on to mention 2 of the most visited and popular sites on the internet for all things Celtic. I bet if you added up the memberships of all 6 of those bodies it wouldn’t even tickle the numbers Paul or Eddie receive daily to their sites. This is the problem with these official bodies, they share the same fate as the old media. The internet is making them irrelevant. Joe does some great work. I read through his pieces on the CSA site but where is this point of view in the old media? His stuff deserves a wider audience. The CSA apparently have the mandate to represent us, where is the representation? Same for the CST. They seem more interested in their annual “chase the rainbow” at the AGM than to speak up and represent the fans publicly. The media see them as an irrelevance hence you not hearing hide nor hair from our official representatives during these tribulations, which I have no doubt is not through inaction on their part I hasten to add. The media have recognised this shift in power hence the erudite Paul Brennan seemingly becoming the spokesman for us in the media locally and nationally.
Joe is right. Getting the fans together is the way forward. Getting a mandate from those fans to proceed on their behalf is the way forward. If you get that mandate, the old media WILL give you a platform. Why? They need the sales, desperately. The Open Meetings were informative but were not subscribed to in huge numbers as in this day and age people no longer want to engage in that manner. Celtic fans engage daily with each other in vast numbers online. Within that online family we have huge resources. We have intelligence, wit and heart-warming charity. I am sure we have lawyers, marketing experts, wordsmiths who could all be harnessed to help our cause just now.
We need to get together, via the medium we use daily, get a consensus on the songs we should ditch and the songs we should defend. We then need to get a campaign telling everyone what we are going to do. Publicly concede the wrongs, which is the first step on the road to reconciliation, but vociferously defend our right to sing other songs.
The people are getting one side of a tale, they need to hear ours. I don’t believe the bulk of Scots have hate in their hearts, I do believe they have ignorance there though. It is time our vast, united support enlightened them. They will thank us for it someday.