Three closely related questions strike you after watching this video. Which bright spark at the MoD thought this would be a good idea? Which executive at Ibrox organised this event? What kind of a country are we living in?
You can see how the custodians of the new club trading as Rangers can make short-term capital by pandering to jingoistic sectarianism. But what do the armed forces get out of it?
Roy Greenslade (and it’s absolutely no surprise it takes a non-Scottish based journalist to say it it), asks:
Will mainstream media report on sectarian singing by British troops? It will be interesting to see if any newspaper covers the fact that members of Britain’s armed forces appeared to join in with Scottish football fans as they sang sectarian songs at a match yesterday. Initial reports suggest not.
Some 400 uniformed soldiers, seamen and air force personnel attended an armed forces day at Ibrox, the Rangers ground. After a formal march and band music, a group of soldiers (they were in khaki) were filmed dancing, clapping and singing along with the crowd.
Although it is difficult to make out the exact words on the video posted on YouTube, people have identified sectarian songs and chants celebrating the death of the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.
Ever-present sports journalist (on virtually any sport you can mention) Tom English chipped in by saying:
Here’s a ‘radical’ proposal. Both sides of Old Firm stop singing about Bobby Sands. Wearying and cringe-making tit for tat on that front.
In doing so, he spectacularly missed the point. This ISN’T about Celtic v Rangers fans. There isn’t always an equivalence. This is such tired lazy cliche. It doesn’t make any sense. The armed forces aren’t run-of-the-mill fans. The people who organised this are responsible for mass manipulation and exploitation. This was an event where military chiefs were in attendance and was sanctioned by football authorities. That simple reality must have consequences.
Here’s a really radical proposal, why don’t politicians, footballing authorities and the sports media respond appropriately and effectively to this event? It’s an opportunity for democrats and pro-independence forces to stand up to the unionist mob that threatens and intimidates anyone who challenges it.
As one tweeter put it simply: “If they do not condemn & prosecute serving soldiers for anti-Catholic slogans/chanting, then what on earth are we to think of them?”
That’s a simple enough question.
We’ll wait and see the response from the media, politicians and sporting authorities in the coming days. The response will answer the question ‘what kind of a country are we living in?’ and a subsequent question, what sort of Scotland do we aspire to?