Reading Stan Collymore’s tweets these past few days left me wondering – how did we get here? For those unaware, following the Chelsea racism scandal, Collymore tweeted that Chelsea and RFC were two sides of the same coin and that RFC should be removed from TV until they stopped singing about being up to their knees… and that sponsors should boycott them. So how in Scotland did we get to a position where no-one has tackled this and the other illegal songs of murder and hate based upon religion? We all know the answer and it came on Saturday night on Clyde’s Super Scoreboard. I never listen and am going on the texts and the twitter timeline explosion – In the terrible whataboutery of Scotland, A caller criticised Celtic flying the IRA flag and singing the IRA song. He was referring to the flag and anthem of our neighbour nation and fellow EU member Ireland!
This preposterous comment and the follow up illustrates Scotland’s problem. Rather than immediately take the caller off air and then an employee of Clyde apologise as would be normal journalistic and editorial practice, professional arsehole Keevins agreed!! A man who really should know better actually stated that by singing the anthem of Ireland on Thursday night the Celtic fans had brought shame on the club! What a racist prick!!
What these comments do however is succinctly illustrate Scotland’s problem. It doesn’t understand its sectarian problem because it isn’t a sectarian problem. Everything you need to know about how we have come to tens of thousands belting out vile anti-Catholic and anti-Irish songs at Hampden and the head of the SFA saying “what can we do” is illustrated in equating the Billy Boys with Amhrán na bhFiann.
Fortunately the sectarian issues affecting Scotland today are minimal with the remants remaining in the songs sung at football and now that this is the case, it is convenient for society to say that sectarianism is a football, specifically “an Old Firm” issue. Poppycock.
I say sectarian because that is the context within which the debate is set however as everyone knows, Scotland did not have a sectarian problem, it had an anti-Catholic problem. Most reading this will be fortunate enough to never have experienced the issues of “No Irish or Blacks” signs or glass ceilings due to their religion. I am fortunate that overt anti-Catholicism was dying why I was child and finished by the time I got to the job market, but it was still there. One of my first direct experiences of anti Catholicism was when, one summer weekend cutting the front grass, my dad was asked to sign a petition against a Catholic High school being built in Eastwood Park. We were very fortunate that my dad’s career rise had come outside Scotland and we lived in a nice home. The petitioner obviously didn’t expect Catholics to live in an affluent suburb and was free to ask. Naturally she was told where to go.
Fortunately these instances of anti-Catholicsim are no more, what frustrates me is how Scotland has tackled the problem.
Taking out the abuse and insults, the only form of Sectarianism I am aware of in my 44 years of life has been anti-Catholicism. Linked closely to Irish immigration I don’t think anyone would deny that there was discrimination in the workplace and society against Catholics. Unlike other forms of prejudice against Black, Muslims or Jews, Scottish society decided not to call it what it was and put this anti-Catholicism under the Sectarian banner. This was convenient as it made it sound like it was a problem that affected all, however, as I say, apart from verbal insults tell me of the sectarian attitudes that had Protestants excluded from jobs simply for their faith.
Nevertheless we have now grown up as a society and whilst I still find in certain social circles an acceptance of derogatory anti-Catholic jokes, by and large it has gone, which brings me to OBFA.
As a football fan it frustrates that politicians and commentators like to bundle our “sectarian” problem into a football problem although I understand why – make it the fault of dirty down-market football and those who don’t attend can pretend it doesn’t and never existed as a societal issue. In tackling “sectarianism” at football the SNP decided to implement to OBFA, a ridiculous piece of legislation which has seen people removed from stadium for wearing Free Palestine t-shirts and debate over whether singing the anthem of a fellow EU member state should be criminalised.
The nonsense of the OBFA is that it has allowed the racist and anti-Catholic songs to be bundled into a whataboutery of every other song people don’t like to have a situation where apples and oranges are compared like for like and diddies like Keevins aren’t intelligent enough to differentiate. The nonsense of Scotland is that it has left songs extolling racist intent and religious hatred unchallenged.
Thousands upon thousands (not the “small minority” often mentioned) song such songs at the league cup semi-final and the police PRAISED fan behavior. When challenged stewart Reagan admitted it happened but asked “what can I do?”
As I say, Stan Collymore’s twitter campaign got me thinking – How has it come to this? How has it come to an outsider pointing out the obvious? That games should be taken off TV, stands should be shut and a club should be deducted points and fined and we’ve done nothing? The most depressing point is – I know why. Because Scotland hasn’t grown up enough to deal with. It is too frightened. It has marginalized the issue to football’s sectarian shame. Football fans are part of society, and Scottish society still has an anti-Irish Catholic cancer at it’s heart. Depressingly I also knew that any debate would lead to a whataboutery and nonsensically shoe-horning Celtic into the debate. Stan doesn’t live here. Sadly he doesn’t realise Scotland isn’t grown up enough to deal with his problems and likes to shoot the messenger. How has it come to this?