|The Classic Mantra of the Racist: Scotlands Shame.|
|26-10-08 10:50 AM|
'Go home. Get back to your own country'. It's the classic mantra of the racist. And it's the latest mantra of the hate-filled hordes that infest the home stands at Ibrox and the away stands wherever Rangers fans follow follow their team. Although it's questionable whether they ever frequent any of these venues to actually watch Rangers FC play football. They seem, to many observers, far more intent on spewing forth all manner of hateful dirges that have no connection with football whatsoever.
And just when you thought you'd heard it all with the campaign to desecrate the name of the greatest manager that Scotland ever produced, a man who literally died for his country, they do what you don't think is possible: they manage to sink even lower. Now it's open season on the Irish and all of Eire's sons and daughters. Including those - of all creeds - who were disastrously affected by the potato famine (An Gorta Mór or An Drochshaol) in which at least one million people died between 1845 1852 and the population of Ireland was reduced by an estimated 20-25 percent.
The reaction of Rangers fans? Their latest 'banter' reminds us that the famine's over and asks Eire's children in Scotland, why don't you go home? Banter. That's how they're describing this. The Chief Executive of Rangers, Martin Bain calls it a tit-for-tat wind-up. In a letter handed out to Rangers fans before their home match against Motherwell on Sunday 21 September (more than seven months after this vile chant was first heard at Scottish football grounds) Bain failed to condemn the chant. Indeed in his opening sentence, hands wringing, he claimed it had been 'a difficult week for Rangers'.
So why had it been such a difficult week for Rangers? Well, because a nation has been racially abused by their fans and Rangers, it seems, find complaints about this an irritation. Bain, rather than condemn this racist bile chose to point the finger at others, claiming that folk sing about the Ibrox disaster and about a wish that one of their footballers would pass on whilst in slumber. Songs finding amusement in either subject are abhorrent and should be roundly condemned by every decent member of society. Indeed they are and they have been. However, by crying that 'he said this' or 'they said that', Rangers FC cannot deflect from the fact that this famine 'song' is nothing more than hateful racist bile. Yet, at the time of writing, Rangers were yet to condemn it as such.
Indeed, had you listened to the commentary of the Rangers match against Motherwell on the day this letter was issued, you would have been forgiven for thinking that what its contents had said was 'sing this filth louder than you have ever done before'. Because that's exactly what happened. Maybe that's what the Rangers racists thought they were being told. After all, Bain failed to condemn the song and in fact while at pains to point out that anyone caught singing it was at risk of arrest Strathclyde Police being yet another organisation that had advised Rangers FC that the song was racist it took Bain nine paragraphs of wailing, gnashing of teeth and finger pointing (he has no hair to tear out) before he eventually, and reluctantly asked fans to refrain from singing the 'song' in their best interests. Not because it was racist, not because it added to their reputation as Scotland's Shame, not because it was upsetting to a foreign country, but, it seems, in spite of all this. 'We will work on your behalf to deal with the continuing attempts to undermine your efforts and we are fully committed to defending your collective interests', Bain reassured the perma-raging hordes.
On the other hand, the internationally respected Kick it Out, one of the most reputable anti-racist bodies in the world said that the chanting of the famine song (as this anthem of racist hatred has become colloquially known) is the worst incidence of racism seen in Britain for more than two decades. In agreement is the anti-fascist and anti-racist organisation, Searchlight. Also voicing their condemnation has been the Equality and Human Rights Commission and, belatedly, Show Racism the Red Card Scotland (SRTRCS), whose reluctance to make a public statement on the issue for the past seven months has been, to say the least, mysterious. We will examine SRTRCS's role more deeply but suffice to say for now that they have publicly stated that this song is racist. On Thursday 9 October, Irish politicians became involved when Alan Shatter TD asked the Irish Foreign Minister in an official question at the Dail Eireann (the Irish Parliament) to investigate this racist song, claiming that it could have an adverse effect on Scottish/Irish relations.
A difficult week indeed! Well let's all cry for the racist Rangers! Let's forget about the century and a half old legacy of devastation wreaked by a potato blight that almost destroyed an entire nation. No, we have to feel sorry for 'the Rangers' because they've been reported to the authorities for singing racist filth. Bain tells you it's no more than a tit-for-tat wind-up. Every single organisation with expertise in this field tells you it's racist. I know whose opinion I tend to believe. And no, it's not because as a Celtic fan I have it in for 'the Rangers'. It's much more elementary than that. I believe the anti-racist organisations because I don't even need them to tell me that it's a racist chant. It's as plain as the nose on my face. It is racist. What is difficult to understand is how anyone could suggest otherwise. It is vile, it is extreme, it is shameful and it is as racist as racist can be. It includes that classic racist chorus about going home to your own country. Even a simple fool would be embarrassed to argue that this rot wasn't racist.
Which makes the story of SRTRCS's reaction to this evil chant all the more perplexing. This is a body which receives funding from a wide array of sponsors including the SFA, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and the Scottish Government (i.e. you and me, the taxpayers). SRTRC were first made aware of this song in the aftermath of its first mass airing in public at the Celtic Rangers match of April 16 2008 at Celtic Park; a match which Celtic won 2-1 and was the catalyst that propelled the Hoops on to win their third title in as many years for the first time since the Jock Stein era (just thought I'd get that in while I was at it!). Within days SRTRC had responded to a vast number of complainants (in the hundreds), explaining in their emailed replies that they deemed the song racist and that they were in talks with Rangers, the SPL and the SFA . In other words, all of the relevant organisations were made aware by the body funded to examine racism in sport in Scotland that the famine song was racist before the end of April 2008.
Indeed before the end of the month (on 27 April), Rangers returned to Celtic Park to receive a repeat dose of the beating of 16 April and on this occasion, with nothing having been done in the intervening time, they chanted their racism with ever increasing gusto and on at least four separate occasions throughout the match. Obviously all ears would have been on the Rangers fans given the storm of protest after their racist display just eleven days earlier, yes? Well, if they were the SPL match delegate, Willie McDougall (ex-Rangers employee and associate of SRTRC), failed to include any reference to the Rangers fans' behavior in his match report. At least it is assumed so, as the SPL failed once again to act. Later that evening a Celtic fan from an Irish background was murdered in Govan in what police believed to be a sectarian killing. In the early hours of the same night, Aiden McGeady was attacked by Rangers fans while out with some of his teammates. And in the meantime SRTRCS and the Scottish footballing authorities still fail to condemn the famine 'song' in public.
Indeed it took another seven months for SRTRC to publicly state that the famine 'song' was racist. But in the process of doing so, they have called into question their integrity. The sequence of events leading to their eventual, one could almost say capitulation, begs the question whether SRTRCS are fit for purpose and whether they should be receiving public money. Although many complainants had deluged SRTRCS's email inbox over the intervening months, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of their complaint had been received, far less a statement of SRTRCS's position. The first public statement by SRTRC came in the aftermath of Bain's letter to the Rangers support and its content cast serious doubts on the organisation's integrity, being as it was an almost verbatim copy of Bain's letter. Not only was the language identical, the examples of other supporters' behaviour were the very same as those cited by Bain i.e. the Ibrox disaster and the Novo 'song'. Quite what either has to do with racism - the sole remit of SRTRCS - is anyone's guess.
A very serious question arises from the similarities in the two statements and it is this: did SRTRCS consult with Rangers FC before releasing their statement?
And the football authorities are only conspicuous by their continued silence.
It is difficult to see, in the face of unanimous condemnation from all the major anti-racism bodies, how the Scottish footballing authorities can remain so resolutely silent on this issue. There is much talk and there have been many 'initiatives' launched with the expressed purpose of combatting racism as well as sectarianism and bigotry in Scotland through educating young people. But if it is problematical for an adult to understand why the governing body fails to condemn blatant racism it must surely be a deep mystery for a young person to resolve the difference between the authorities telling them one thing while doing something entirely different in the face of overwhelming evidence.
However, most youngsters will have mastered basic arithmetic and will know that one plus one makes two. This arithmetical logic can also be used when attempting to solve other problems and in this case we may be able to use basic arithmetic to answer for us on the SFA and the SPL's muteness. There is a perfectly simple answer to this problem staring us all in the face and it is this: The head of the SFA is Gordon Smith, the Chairman of the SPL is Lex Gold, the PFA Scotland Chief Executive is Fraser Wishart, the most frequent SPL match observer at Rangers matches is one Willie McDougall and the match observer at the Celtic v Rangers match on August 31st was Craig Brown. Have we all spotted the connection here yet? Yes indeed, all have a past association with Rangers FC, having been in previous employment at that club. Now there are a number of factors that can be taken into account when attempting to link otherwise unconnected facts and in the course of doing so coincidences can occur which can invalidate the connection. That is to say in some cases links between items can be explained away as purely coincidental. But even the top number crunchers on the planet would have difficulty waving away the connections described above. It seems that in this case one and one do indeed make two.
And if the links were coincidental, would we really have to wait this long for a member of the above associations two of whom are major sponsors of SRTRCS to condemn the racist chants of the Ibrox following? The weight of evidence is so vast that the inaction of the SFA and the SPL in particular could very easily be construed as having a pro-Rangers bias. So much so that it seems the club's ex-employees would prefer to see racism go unpunished than bring Rangers to heel. In fact, it seems they would prefer to allow a diplomatic incident to occur between our two nations than pronounce on Rangers. It is a truly shameful silence that we have had to endure on this issue.
In order to give fair hearing to the authorities, maybe we should attempt to define racism. It may be that all the anti-racism bodies have overlooked something and it is not them, but Rangers FC and the authorities headed up by their ex-employees that are right. The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, do not define racism but they do define racial discrimination:
the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism)
According to British law, racial group means "any group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origin".
So, once more, the question is, when a group of people are asked to 'go home' as in, 'get back to your own country', which part of that statement is not racist, given that a racial group can be "any group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origin"?
Let's not beat about the bush here. What the Rangers fans are chanting is racist. There is no amount of spin that can say otherwise. Which Scottish Rangers fan visiting Dublin, only to be told to get back to his own country, wouldn't be immediately defensive and claim a racist breach of the peace? The answer is none, and the reason is because that's exactly what would have occurred.
The time has come for action. If not by the Scottish football authorities then by others. The police have already said that the chant is racist, yet have failed to arrest a single person. In this day of CCTV technology, what is stopping them? And if they are failing to carry out their duty, should the Justice Minister be made aware in order to ensure that prosecutorial advice is being enforced? After all, it is the police themselves that say a racial breach of the peace has happened.
Surely the authorities and the government are not prepared to countenance our nation being labelled a 'racist backwater' by the international community, just so that the racist fans that follow Rangers can go unpunished? If so, is it any wonder that Scots-born families of Irish descent are indeed 'going home' in the face of this intimidation?
Maybe the fear is that by calling this for what it is, UEFA's ears will be pricked and Rangers FC will face yet further sanction from the European football governing body. No doubt UEFA will by now have had enough of this set of supporters and their continued criminality. Maybe this time, the punishment will fit the crime. It may also be that, should the Scottish authorities continue to fail in its duty to protect others from racial harassment that UEFA will have no option but to step in. That it has gone on for so long already is to the eternal shame of the administrators of football in this country, but that is not a reason for continued silence. So stop shaming Scotland by your inaction towards Scotland's Shame.
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