A quick word about sectarianism in Scotland

This week saw Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke rightfully despair about the sectarian abuse that comes from some Rangers fans, as well as the wider problem of religious bigotry in the West of Scotland.

This prompted not the widespread soul searching one would hope, but instead people started digging in, including sadly Steven Gerrard who decided instead of condemning what he clearly hears behind him since becoming manager of Rangers, decided to bring up the abuse of Kris Boyd. For the record Boyd sat with Clarke in a press conference to discuss the problem.

There is a feeling rife in Scotland that this ‘is just how it is‘ and that trying to change it would just be too hard, which of course is incredible nonsense. IF certain institutions and people wanted to change they would so we have to deal with the fact some people don’t just enjoy wallowing in this hatred, but they thrive from it. Ruth Davidson for example has helped get where she is today through pandering to Orange tinted bigots, while Labour have been hand in glove with the Orange Order for too long with Jeremy Corbyn being the latest leader happy to turn a blind eye.

Essentially large parts of Scotland’s establishment have strong links to sectarianism, or are themselves, sectarians happy to push that agenda with Murdo Fraser of the Tories being the most blatant example. As for the media, many wring their hands in faux outrage, but are only happy to cash in on sectarianism for clicks like the Daily Record is. Then there’s people like James Kelly MSP, who fought to get the ‘football act’ repealed which as flawed a bit of legislation as it was, it happened to be the only bit of legislation passed which targeted this specific problem. Kelly promised after the repeal that he and Labour would present ideas around the idea that education and other approaches would work. Over a year on we see there’s no educating some people and we still await Kelly,not to mention the Scottish media establishment’s ideas of ‘other approaches’ but Kelly wrings his hands in faux outrage while still celebrating his victory to let bigots realise there’s no punitive outcome for singing about ‘bathing in fenian blood’ or  IRA terrorists every week.

The SNP don’t get off the hook either. If they’d tightened up the law and made it more focused, while backing it up with some much needed reforms that Scotland desperately needs, they might not have presented people like Kelly and Fraser such an open goal. They’re now stuck in an impasse where they’re too scared to bring something into power, so we now have this situation where everyone (bar the extremists) want something to be done, but nobody is actually doing anything.

Fans of Rangers, and of Celtic, need to step up but the ongoing failure that is the SFA, fails the game at the most basic of levels has allowed this to fester for generations. Want it to stop? Next game where there’s something being chanted, the game after is played behind closed doors.. Still happens after that? Take away points. Fining clubs and slapping their wrists is pointless but nothing that will stop clubs quietly letting this carry on will happen and the Scottish establishment will wring their hands saying ‘och, it’s awful’ next time it happens, and the next time and the next time.

It is a fucking shame on all of us in the country to claim we’re tolerant, and different to the rest of the UK when we let this happen and we do let it happen because it isn’t challenged enough. If Scotland wants to live up to the potential we have, this archaic fucking monstrosity that blights us all has to go and if it means breaking down old institutions then fine. Nothing lasts forever and generations to come deserve better.

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The sticky issue of Scottish Independence and Rangers fans

There’s a very interesting article at Wings Over Scotland about Rangers fans and how some of them are openly not only supporting a Unionist position (which isn’t a problem), but doing so based upon an unquestioning belief structure.

This excerpt from the piece is central to the problem.

Beliefs are strange things. A belief is armoured. For whatever reason, a belief is like a locked file on a shelf. It sits in our brain waiting to be accessed at a time when the pertaining subject matter comes into conversation. When that happens, the file comes off the shelf, the dust is blown away, and a whole set of opinions can be accessed and broadcast without complication.

As such, beliefs become hard-wired and established, more tenacious than a simple idea. The stronger the belief, the bigger the file. The older the belief, the more important the file. Belief, dogma, belonging and tradition all lock arms and conspire to prevent the brain from thinking. “Things should stay just as they are because that’s what I believe – I don’t need to talk about it. I don’t want to.”

Even when the belief is detrimental to the wellbeing of the individual or group, it often persists. Immense harm can come from belief. Religious or sectarian conflicts persist because people cannot change their belief. Class privilege, racism, sexism, and more all endure because people’s beliefs resist being updated for the modern age.

Taking a bad belief apart is painful. People are reluctant to even try. We all recognise this behaviour. We even have a caricature for it – putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and shouting “la la la la”.

This isn’t to say all Rangers fans are hardwired sectarian bigots. They’re not and I know people who support the team for footballing reasons, but a large number are and here’s the problem. They’re supporting the Unionist position because that’s what makes them comfortable and the one thing everyone agrees on is the idea of an independent Scotland is making people uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. People are scared, naturally of change, while others are, naturally, wanting to be shaken out of their comfort zone.

Supporting an independent Scotland means however that you break the current system and build something new from it, while the fear of change is too much for those sectarian Rangers fans clinging onto long lost memories. This after all would mean the end of the Union and the end of what certain bigots within Rangers cling to, and this would mean, hopefully, people drop an outmoded bigotry which doesn’t belong in Scotland in the 21st Century.

So I hope those decent Rangers fans weigh up the options based upon what they want to vote based upon anything but sectarian hatred.This doesn’t mean Celtic fans get a pass for those who also preach hate via their own sectarianism as this is a chance to rid Scotland of the undying hatred of some Old Firm fans who want to cling onto what’s made the West of Scotland and in particular, Glasgow, seem like a throwback to worse days.