Racism, Rangers and the Fourth Estate
From a distance all of this looks dangerously unpleasant.
Black shirted youths marching through the centre of Glasgow with what looked remarkably like a police escort.
Moreover, the young men were singing a song that was ruled racist by the High Court in Edinburgh in 2009.
“The Famine is over why don’t you go home?”
This song had emerged in 2008 after UEFA had ruled that the favourite anthem at Ibrox, The Billy Boys, was discriminatory.
“We are up to our knees in Fenian blood” is the key lyric.
That song is about a Glasgow street gang from the inter-war years .
It’s eponymous leader, Billy Fullerton, was an associate of Oswald Mosley and a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan.
When I started to write about the Famine Song in 2008, I faced a journalistic struggle to get the mainstream media to take on board the fact that it was racist.
“Irish isn’t a race” was the regular trope.
Several opinion-formers within Scottish sports journalism even deployed the banter defence for the genocide choir at Ibrox.
It wasn’t a good look.
As readers of Bella will know, there is politics in everything.
If the Famine Song was racist then it had to be targeted against someone on the basis of their ethnicity.
Accepting that it was a manifestation of anti-Irish racism meant that, ipso facto, there was an I Irish community extant in modern Scotland.
That was pushing against a dominant narrative in the country for all of the 20th century.
Now, the scourge of anti-Irish racism is openly debated in the Scottish parliament with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon fully on message that there is no place in Scotland for this traditionally authorised hatred.
Since the celebratory riot in George Square after IndyRef in 2014 the Ibrox klanbase have increasingly become more confident about their ability to dominate the public space in the city with no opposition from law enforcement.
Last March, after clinching their first ever league title win, fans of the club broke covid lock down rules gathered at the stadium and then marched en masse to George Square.
There was mobile phone footage of them being given a police escort in a city under pandemic restrictions.
This was merely a warm-up act for the chaos in the same public space last May.
Estimated 15,000 gathered and attacked police and emergency workers.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a gathering of the Ibrox klan without anti-Irish racism.
I am aware of a sizeable contingent left the Northeast of this country (Ireland) to take part in that fascist street theatre.
I’m mindful that this is the 20th anniversary of members of that subculture screaming at terrified children going to Holy Cross school in Belfast.
They had to run a gauntlet of “men” who had been socialised by the same belief system that created the Famine Song in 2008 and wrecked George Square last May.
Since then Celtic’s new signing from Japan, Kyogo Furuhashi, was racially abused by supporters of the Ibrox club.
Once more, there was mobile phone footage that proved that it was slam dunk case.
The Rangers PR operation, headed by ex-Belfast city councillor David Graham of the DUP, did move swiftly to punish those responsible on the bus to Dingwall.
However, in the aftermath of the Famine Song ensemble marching through Glasgow last week I have yet to see the term “anti-Irish racism” used in a club statement.
The folk who run the current entity at Ibrox know their customer base.
And they are base indeed.
But we also have a serious problem with at best the silence and at worst the complicity of the Scottish media with the clubs conduct. There are some notable exceptions:
The old attitudes that were once mainstream in Scotland, as espoused in the infamous Church and National Committee report in 1923, are still mainstream at Ibrox.
In football parlance the inadequate messaging coming out of New Rangers is an open goal for any functioning Fourth Estate.
Instead too many still cling to the Sectarian/Old Firm paradigm.
This is self-serving and cowardly.
Excise the ethnic from the analysis and the Irish community are simultaneously denied and discriminated against.
Even the BBC tried dress up the Famine Song march as “Old Firm” and “Sectarian”.
Thankfully they were swiftly called out by James Dornan MSP.
Heart and Hand
Since the new season started the Ibrox club has been charging £25k for media access.
This has irked some on the sports desks who are legendary in their sycophantic coverage of matters Ibrox.
Now today the Daily Record has actually done some journalism on the chaps behind the Heart and Hand podcast.
Journalist Mark McGivern uncovered a smorgasbord of racism sectarianism and misogyny in the social media accounts of those involved in this New Media outfit.
It is especially newsworthy because they are official media partners of the Ibrox club.
The host of the Heart and Hand podcast is Mr David Edgar.
He recently featured on GB News as he contributed to a piece on the SNP’s alleged problem with Rangers.
Edgar first came to prominence in 2008 when he was the face of the Rangers Trust.
Back then, before he re-invented himself as a podcaster, he was a regular on several media outlets.
One of his main duties was to defend, yes, the Famine Song!
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