Its perhaps ironic that I offer this piece of writing on the weekend of another show of support for terrorist murderers from the green brigade section of the Celtic support. I’m reliably informed however that their Saturday banner was not a public outing of themselves as closet Corries fans but was rather a show of support for Irish terrorism.
I should not make light of such conduct of course, as it confirms the existence of a group of people who are still stuck in the past in a conflict which has itself left them far behind. Even Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness have come to realise that the stoic British people of Northern Ireland will not be defeated by the bullet or the bomb and have abandoned terrorism. (Please no sniggering at the back of the class)
I’m now going to astound you – Jack McConnell was absolutely right when he described sectarianism in Scotland as our “Secret Shame”. His comments following an Old Firm game were to prove the catalyst to an extraordinary McCarthyesque political campaign to uncover and expose the bigots under the bed. And with men such as journalist Graham Spiers spearheading such such a crusade what could go wrong ?
Well pesky academics such as Dr Stuart Waiton and Prof Steve Bruce for starters. The latter having carried out the most in depth academic research into sectarianism in Scotland and written various discourses and books on the subject arriving at the following conclusion:
Dr Waiton’s study is more widespread and in his book “Snobs Law” he argues that football supporters in general are treated as some kind of underclass by the the authorities and politicians. He is particularly condemnatory of those who have led Scotland down a mythical path to a Brigadoon where sectarianism is rife.
We owe Dr Waiton another debt of gratitude however. For not only exposing the empty rhetoric of Graham Spiers, but perhaps more importantly, the insidious and sleekit nature of Spiers when his rapidly diminishing credibility or vastly inflated ego is challenged.
“Stuart Waiton, the interesting/faintly bonkers prof, is admired by many Old Firm fans. Here’s his Green Brigade piece”
Graham Spiers Twitter 22.02.2013
Given the propensity many of us have for disagreeing with Spiers – we too must be “faintly bonkers”. Oh the audacity.
But exiting from the world of academia its perhaps worthy examining what the real world says about Scotland’s Secret Shame.
Race Crimes 4,012
Religiously aggravated 687.
Does that make racism Scotland’s Very Very Very Secret Shame ? Are we to see a new dedicated Policing Unit to deal with this apparent epidemic of racism ? Is our funding of anti-racism initiatives nearly six times that of our anti-sectarian ones ?
Furthermore of the 40% males in Glasgow convicted of such religiously aggravated crimes who would be willing to bet a large percentage of those crimes occurred in or around the vicinity of Ibrox or Parkhead ? Dont look for a big windfall – the betting is odds on.
But perhaps the second most interesting comment in that report is this : “Police officers were the most common target of religiously aggravated abuse” Did I miss something – are our bobbies now plodding the beat sporting large crucifixes or “Proud to be a Prod” badges? Or were these by and large victimless crimes with the religiously aggravated behaviour targeted at no-one in particular ? For those amongst us who like a flutter – Im afraid thats another odds on.
I said second most interesting because the article itself reveals the McCarthyesque route we have gone down with regard to sectarianism. In an article which demonstrates crimes against our ethnic minorities is nearly 6 times worse than our religiously aggravated ones, where are the interviews with our ethnic minority representatives or their associated charities ? Why is no-one suggesting a mandatory rehabilitation programme for those convicted of race crimes ? It is after all by far the most common type of hate crime in this country.
Sectarianism is Scotland’s Secret Shame – but not for the reasons Jack McConnell alluded to. It is our secret shame because we have condemned ourself as a country publicly for a problem which does not exist, we have allowed ourselves to be brow beaten by insidious idiots like Graham Spiers and diverted money and resources to this mythical problem to the exclusion of a far greater problem within our society.
Perhaps the final word should be left to Prof. Steve Bruce.
“Scotland’s disgrace is not religious bigotry. It is the unthinking way in which sectarianism is assumed, without evidence”