Sectarianism in all its deniable plausibility

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By Mark Dingwall

I have no doubt there are Celtic fans who genuinely deplore sectarianism, racism, anti-Semitism etc – in fact I know a few do exist.  The problem is, however, one of definition.  If you don’t consider the IRA’s genocidal campaign of terror against their Protestant neighbours as one actually of terror then I think you’ve got a problem.  Equally, if by constant repetition you care blinded to, or minimise, your own tribe’s faults and throw all the blame onto “the other”, then that too is a problem.

The problems of “doublethink” and “Black, White” struck me this week as I came across an old copy of the Celtic View from August 2003 in the FF archives.  Those concepts are, roughly, the ability to hold two contradictory views inside your head at the one time and to constantly swap between them as and when the conditions require you to do so.

The first article was written by Tony Hamilton in relation to the booing and abuse of Shota Aveladze, then a Rangers player, at a Republic of Ireland v George match in Dublin.  Tony goes to great lengths to state that he abhors sectarianism etc and then blames the hoo-ha on sections of the South Irish press being annoyed at Southern Irish fans  choosing to travel to Parkhead every second week rather than supporting their local teams – a phenomena widely ridiculed in Republic of Ireland websites and forums – whether true or not the perception is that most of those fans travel to Parkhead for something other than football.

Tony’s mantra is that it’s okay to boo – indeed unbelievably he linked to a website called – and finished off with the phrase “let the people boo . . .”  That might on the face of it seem innocuous until you recall that there’s a republican “ballad” entitled “Let the people sing.”  Sing about what? 

And that’s where Celtic as a club let themselves down – they are very long on claiming their hands are clean but then pander to the vilest in their support with “Fields of Athenry” over the tannoy, with songs like “Grace” and “Something inside so strong” etc, etc, which have been adopted by the republican movement.  And this nod and a wink attitude ends up with parts of your ground out of control, with IRA and sectarian banners and effigies of Orangemen and Rangers fans being hung inside your ground.

Indeed so intertwined with hatred and paranoia is Celtic Football Club that a book was written about it by a noted Celtic historian, Tom Campbell.  In the same issue of the Celtic View the university professor Willie Maley examines the book and the issues before concluding rather amusingly that if “it all goes teddy bear shaped, we’ve only got other people to blame.”  

Unfortunately, in the same edition of the Celtic View as these two articles is a cartoon which has a chuckle about the inability of the Celtic crowd to produce a response to a Tannoy appeal for an official to take over the game – boom!  boom!

Presumably Hugh Dallas heading fifty pence pieces had slipped their mind.

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