F**K fascism and F**K racism!
I dare say that all of the green and white of Glasgow with good in their hearts are in utter solidarity with this sentiment. Conscious racism and xenophobia, which are two pivotal supporting beams to this structure of hate, have no place in any society.
A fortnight ago there was a planeload of Irriducibili nursing a sore head and a sick stomach after the previous nights match-winning exploits of Jullien, Christie et al. A game in which we celebrated as the spirit of SS Lazio capitulated.
And last night in the Stadio Olimpico, Celtic, like Flamma the infamous Syrian gladiator who achieved legendary status for his warrior like qualities, chose not to lie down. Instead they rose to the challenge of defeating Lazio in their own backyard with a sickening and fatal blow in the final seconds of added on time which propelled us into the next round with two games to spare.
Based on the current Europa League standings and taking goal difference into account we are the 6th best team in the competition and are among the company of Sevilla, Arsenal and Basel – all of whom are of european powerhouse class.
What a time to be a Tim!
Both defeats of Lazio were much more than simple footballing victories however. Like many things Celtic, there was something altogether more magical about it.
These defeats, symbolically speaking, represented a defeat to fascism by a team commonly associated with racial and ethnic inclusivity, a team whose fans are known to fly the flag for republicanism and Leftist politics generally. It appears that good does conquer evil after all. Particularly when the 95th minute winner comes from a Muslim of West African descent which of course shouldn’t matter, but to some of the Irriducibli, it most certainly will.
Although we are right to celebrate the humbling of a grotesque team who, paradoxically, know how to play football the beautiful way, there is still a bigger game with much bigger stakes at play here.
Anti Irish Catholic Racism
Referred to here are the stunningly obvious levels of anti Irish/Catholic racism which are infested in the sediment of Scottish culture as regular as the silt in its soil. This, like any weed left to grow without the snuffling of it out at its earliest opportunity, has grown to be a widely accepted part of the Scottish physical environment. As a result, the pretence of a ‘One Scotland, Many Cultures’, needs major re-landscaping.
The work of academics, like Scotland’s leading social historian and Professor Emeritus of Edinburgh University, Tom Devine, doesn’t help. For example, when he states that sectarianism in Scotland is all but dead many listen but few dare to critique.
His proof for this is mostly two pronged. Firstly he refers to the fact that numbers of the overtly anti Catholic movement, the Orange Order, are dwindling. This is a semi secret organisation so it is quite difficult to actually tell. However, for as long as they bring the city centre streets to a standstill summer upon summer they will continue to represent an all marching and all drumming version of a religious supremacy which is much better consigned to a history book.
Secondly, Devine focuses on the reduced police and crime figures in relation to sectarian or religiously motivated hate crimes. However, how much of the everyday anti Irish sentiment and attitudes go completely unrecorded due to underreporting or even mis recording by the Police?
The trouble with empiricism is that it only reports what can be seen and what is tangible. It does not reflect a true and contextualised picture. Therefore it is utterly useless as an accurate method of measurement if relied upon solely.
Further, statistics and recorded data in general never do tell the whole story. For example, consider the four cases of obvious anti Catholic attacks on Neil Lennon between 2003-2014 which included a car chase, an Ashton Late assault and even a letter ‘bomb’ plot.
In most of three cases, the charge included the term ‘sectarian’ in relation to the motivations of the thugs as I have written about previously (see Lennon: Bomb Plots, Bampots and Bigots, Nov. 2018)
Fair play to the police in recording it. However, when it reached court, the judicial system decided to delete these parts of the charge. Indeed, as the Scotsman has pointed out in relation to the Ashton Lane incident,
‘Part of the charge, that the attack was aggravated by religious prejudice, was deleted.’
Thus, according to the empirical fact, Lennon was attacked due to reasons which had nothing to do with racism or religious bigotry.
Many believe Scotland has an existence of anti Irish/Catholic racism which it ‘sweeps up’ under the umbrella term of sectarianism thus rendering it a problem where guilt and culpability are to be burdened by all. In so doing the dominant narrative of Scotland and its social commentators is one which cannot see anti Irish racism for what it is – a stand alone issue.
Instead it is regarded as one half of an equal problem which creates senseless ‘whataboutery‘ as the false equivalency narrative goes full pelt.
In short, anti Irish racism has been a separate and historical problem for Scotland. Many from the Tim culture believe that the blame lies with the organisation which was first ratified on Scottish turf at Maybole in 1801, the tribal Orange Order.
One Scotland, One Culture?
It is the legitimisation by the Scottish state of an anti Catholic/Irish group which allows for many Scots with fascist or racist beliefs to believe that they are safe or indeed entitled to express them. An example of this is to be seen when Police Scotland, the vast majority on overtime rate, safely escort the parades of the Order or Loyalist minded whilst they are flanked by hundreds singing the ‘Famine Song’ which refers directly to the repatriation of the Irish whilst mocking the catastrophe of the Great Hunger (1845-1851)
This may be tradition, but it doesn’t make it right.
This is one such example of many. It is also the reason why many from within the Irish diaspora were unsurprised when the ex chief of Police Scotland went public only weeks ago with the tiresome and troubled blaming of Catholic schools in relation to contemporary bigotry.
Similarly, when the ‘Mussolini 11’ branch of SS Lazio fans were marching down Buchanan Street and along the Gallowgate with arm held aloft in Roman salute two weeks ago, many Tims were completely unsurprised that Police Scotland took a zero approach rather than a zero tolerance approach.
History Does Nothing But Repeat
The existence of racist/fascist views within the Scottish state in full view of an inactive Police force is nothing new for Glasgow however.
According to Dr. Andrew Davies of the University of Liverpool, Glasgow in the 1930’s bore witness to an attempt of infiltration of Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF), aided and abetted by Billy ‘up to his knees in fenian blood’ Fullerton of Brigton’. The very same man who is considered a patron, nay hero, of our rivals from Ibrox.
By the late ’30s one of his allies, Alexander Ratcliffe, who was head of the Scottish Protestant League (SPL), won two seats – Kinning Park and Dennistoun – within Glasgow Corporation.
The latter ‘achievement’ of fascism was secured by running on a ticket of Irish repatriation. In short, Ratcliffe, who was an open supporter of Nazism even after Dachau and Auschwitz were exposed, believed that the Glasgow Irish should be ‘sent back’. This would have included my family and no doubt very many of the readers families too.
Kenneth nneth Lunn contextualises this time in Scottish history succintly when he writes,
‘Anti Irish Catholic sentiment was in fact widely present in Scottish society, it was manifested in national political circles…’
(Lunn, K. ‘Traditions of Intolerance: Historical Perspectives on Fascism and Race Discourse in Britain’ pg. 197)
Celtic Park in times like those was both a safe haven and stadia of defiance as it existed as a vehicle for the Irish in Scotland to rally behind.
We are right and we are just to celebrate beating SS Lazio and we are rightfully proud at steamrolling through our Europa League group with two games to spare.
Should we so desire, and I believe we do, we could actually go all the way in this tournament but let’s not lose sight of the Nine. We are also right, as is the traditional Celtic way, to view football through a political prism.
But, we would be foolish to celebrate winning the symbolic battle over fascism via the destruction of a brigade from the periphery of Rome without first acknowledging that the war against it must rage on right here at home.
F**K fascism and F**K racism and wether in Glasgow or in Rome let us expose it and let us defeat it!