Shame, Sham or Shameful ?

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"Salmond has attended Wimbledon, the Olympics and now the Ryder Cup yet he has done absolutely nothing for, or indeed shown any interest in, the biggest sporting institution in this country.

Yet, the Northern Ireland First Minister finds the time to meet the English CEO of Scotland's biggest club."
(Bluetiful – Vanguard Bears Forums)

I have yet to see a better piece of prose anywhere which so succinctly summarises the situation besetting our club. It serves to re-enforce that age old adage that “Adversity does teach you who your true friends are”

And we should heed that adage well. Events over the last few months, and in particular the animosity and hatred towards our club have given rise to some in depth soul searching amongst the Rangers support. There has been a significant rise in articles asking searching questions about our identity as a support.

For anyone visiting Rangers websites and forums it is clear that our support is indeed a “broad church”. The once default position of a support which was characterised as Protestant, Unionist, Pro-British, Pro-Monarchist, now includes supporters who neither support the Union nor the Monarchy, and in a increasingly secular society, care little for upholding Rangers Protestant heritage or traditions.

And I have absolutely no problem with that. I have always said, and I continue to say it – each to their own.

But what I do have a problem with, is those articles which not only carry out a critical self-examination, but actually appear to seek to apologise for who we are and what we are as a support. I am of the opinion that some of our support has become conditioned to the propaganda emanating from Holyrood regarding sectarianism.

I use the word “propaganda” because that is exactly what it is. Sectarianism is not “Scotland’s Secret Shame”. Scotland’s Not So Secret Sham would be a far more apt description.

It’s no surprise that respected academics such as Dr Stuart Waiton are so critical of the SNP and their anti-sectarian agenda. Dr Waiton and Prof Steve Bruce have undertaken years of credited academic research, the findings of which demonstrate Scotland does not have a sectarian problem. I contacted Strathclyde Police recently with a freedom of information request with regard to sectarian offending. They were unable to provide me, or anyone else for that matter, with statistics due to the manner in which sectarian offences are recorded – they are recorded as an “aggravator” of the original offence and not a stand alone crime in itself.

As new research reveals 1 in 4 children in Scotland are living in poverty, this Scottish government are apportioning huge funds to a problem which our country’s leading academics have demonstrated via credited research, does not exist. Its not a Secret Shame – Its utterly Shameful.

Football is a form of tribalism. At times the expression of that tribalism can be particularly unsavoury. But it does not follow that such unsavoury behaviour by football supporters is motivated or caused by sectarianism. The most recent Liverpool Man.Utd game, which, despite efforts and pleas on both sides prior to the match, saw the behaviour of football fans decline to a new low. The unedifying sight of 2 sets of rival football supporters taunting each other, with the dead of the Munich Air Crash and Hillsborough their respective weapons of choice, demonstrates that tribalism can degenerate into unacceptable standards of behaviour. Had that been Rangers and Celtic fans involved you can bet your bottom dollar the word “sectarian” would have been in every political soundbite criticising such behaviour.

Therefore if we are to carry out such self-examination of ourselves as a support we should not do it against the backdrop of the fraudulent political football which sectarianism has begun. Nor should what James Traynor described as the bloodfest of hatred against our club be a catalyst to self-examination either. If any Rangers fan out there believes that changes to our song repertoire, our banners, our flags, and our symbolism will bring a change of attitude towards our club, then I personally think you are very much mistaken.

Charles Green very publicly stated that bigotry, hatred and jealousy were the motivating factors behind the attempts to punish our club.

If he is correct, and there is considerable evidence out there which supports his assertion, then perhaps it’s not the Rangers support who should be undertaking self-examination, but others.

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