Sunday, June 04, 2006

Racism and Northern Irish "Loyalism"

I'm currently in the UK so this a UK-themed post. I used to live in Glasgow and when I turned up there as a "hayseed" English country boy, off to uni in the big city, I knew absolutely nothing about the Scottish spillover of Northern Irish sectarian/football politics. Only when I asked my Glaswegian summer-job colleagues who these noisy blokes, with their flutes and drums, were marching past the end of my street each summer weekend morning, did they explain to me that Glasgow also has Orange marches. The graffiti on the toilet walls in the University library was a further education in Scottish sectarian hatred (I was always oddly pleased that scrawlings in the bogs on the social science and philosophy floors of the library weren't quite as unpleasent - further evidence that social science is clearly good for people). One of my tutors was involved in anti-racist organising in the city and told me how right-wing extremist groups like C18 were recruiting amongst Rangers fans (for those who don't know Northern Irish/Scottish politics, Rangers is the Glasgow football club idenified with Protestantism and the Loyalists in Northern Ireland; as opposed to Celtic which is a Catholic club and hence seen as sympathetic to the Republicans in NI)- as she put it "they start by hating the Catholics, they move on to hating the Jews and end up with hating all blacks."

In this context this story from early this last week about the linkage between increasing racist attacks in NI and Loyalist paramilitaries (read - "psychopathic gangster thugs") is hardly suprising although it is still depressing. Hence the story from later in the week about Loyalists yet again trying to kill each other makes you wonder as to whether there is some type of cosmic-justice after all.


helsinkian said...

I've never been to Glasgow, but I remember reading in HS in 1989 that Mo Johnston got death threats because he crossed the sectarian line by signing for Rangers. That was kind of a shock since I'd actually been to Scotland once as a kid and couldn't imagine anything bad happening there (I was still in my teens when Johnston switched from Celtic to Rangers).

helsinkian said...

Mo Johnston actually got fired last week from the position of the head coach of the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Scotland has done such an amazing job of flogging this wonderful, romantic image to the rest of Europe. Majestic mountains, beautiful lochs, kilts and bagpipes - you can almost believe it if you by-pass the Central Belt and head for the Highland as thousand of Dutch and Germans in their campervans do every summer!

Irving Welsh might glamourised the ugliness of some aspects of modern Scotland but at least he didn't ignore them. Neds ( ) drinking Buckie ( ) and scaring the crap out of you with the ever present threat of random, pointless knife violence is just as Scottish as bagpipe music drifting across the waters of Loch Ness!

Having said that, Glasgow remains the finest city in Western Europe and I'd move back there in a second if I could find a good job!