In Need Of An Education

separatevocations3Stupid. How can a group of people be so staggeringly, unbelievably stupid?

Last week the net was buzzing with the story of how the British Army was, once again, used in a cynical and desperate way by a club obsessed with trying to feel good about itself.

Today, as it meanders through the lower leagues, they are again trying, desperately, to stay relevant. They’re trying to bring back Dave King too, to plug the appalling financial hole they are in.

This is a club mired in the past, looking backwards and not forwards. A club still chasing pipedreams instead of living within its means. This is a club that never moves on, because they never learn the lessons of what has come before. I wrote an article a while ago, on the way in which the image of Lee Rigby was appropriated by a section of the Rangers support, and I said then something that embarrassed the troops and the club was always going to happen at a place where they’ve taken nationalism to a whole new level. There are too many people at Ibrox, in the stands as well as in the executive boxes and the boardroom, who really do believe all this stuff, to an unhealthy degree.

Andrew Dickson, who works for the club, actually tweeted to those who had offered criticism of the latest military spectacle, that they should “check their passports.”

What a half-witted, xenophobic, racist and reactionary remark. Scandalous. What does it even mean? I know what he thinks it means … but he’s dead wrong.

These people need an education, because something in theirs was missing. The people who blame Catholic schools for a lot of society’s ills have proven, over and over again, that their own schooling was grossly substandard. They need to be set right.

For a start, many of them are obsessed with Britishness. So obsessed with it that they never even stop to consider what it is that they’re commemorating. The truth is, the Britain they’re commemorating doesn’t exist, and furthermore it never has. They know the sum total of nil about it, about their songs, their “traditions”, their “history.”

Let’s take the song “Rule Britannia”. It was written at a time before Britain had a proper naval tradition, but it’s become a theme of empire. And what empire is that? The one that was built on subjugation and slavery. The Empire that caused nations all over the world to hate and despise this country.

The one that had to be ejected, by revolution and civil disobedience, from  every nation it ever annexed and tried to hold down. America, India, Ireland. They and others had to fight for their freedom, for self-determination. The song commemorates a time when Britain ruled over tens of millions of people, and used their sweat to enrich a select few.

It is little more than supremacist fluff, and I’ve never met a single person, anywhere, who knows more than the chorus. This isn’t Flower of Scotland, with rousing, passionate lyrics. The song repeats itself a lot and the original stanzas are irrelevant tat. Even the ones which make up the “accepted” version are so banal only a handful of people outside the Royal Variety show crowd know, far less care, about what they actually mean.

At Ibrox, they sing the chorus, and they do, apparently, care what the lyrics mean, without actually knowing what that is. Only truly thick people could do that. Only the lamentably dumb could embrace it, pull it tight, and cloak themselves in it, like a shroud.

I use that word deliberately of course, because it sums this situation up beautifully; a dead football club’s supporters clinging to its identity, wrapped in the flag of a dying union. And the more irrelevant, and out of date, that union gets, the more they cleave to it. Their version of Britain is the one vulgarly promoted by the Daily Mail, one of intolerance, bitterness, envy and spite. I want an independent Scotland, but even I know that version bears no resemblance to the country we are living in.

Their love for this “vision” is tragic, like a dog sitting over the grave of a former owner, whining in the rain. It’s like those crazy American right wingers who’ve been trying to create a “white’s only” homeland. Can you imagine what such a place would look like if they were actually able to pull it off? Jesus, it makes your flesh crawl.

The people who run this club have been called many things, but they are not fools. They know how to push the buttons of The Peepil. They understand that to shore up their wavering support they need to kiss the old symbols, they need to whip up the cheerleaders in a common cause, they need to appeal to the old hates and the old superiority.

They’ve embraced Britishness Days, and all that goes with them, like a drowning man would grab a rubber ring.

They know the value of these things, but have never considered the cost of them.

That cost is in terms of their credibility. The more the rest of the world looks at this club, the more they see it as a basket case, out of control, something better off joining its predecessor in the grave. I said in an earlier piece what a tragedy it is for Scottish football that the new club was not born humble, and stripped of pomp, but was, instead, allowed to pretend to be the old one.

I suspect everyone involved knows this is a charade, and they all have their own reasons for keeping it going, but denying reality doesn’t keep reality from the door.

People who say it doesn’t matter whether Rangers is a new club or the continuation of the old one miss the mark. Of course it matters.

If they are a new club they can have a fresh start. They understand and admit what happened. They can accept blame and they can move forward. In that scenario they nurse no grievances and harbour no grudges. And they can dispense with all of the baggage.

Hey, you might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. A lot of Rangers fans would have welcomed this kind of cleansing.

Instead, this fantasy has been allowed to persist, and aside from the old sense of self, the old smugness, there is a new edge to it because of this whole persecution myth which has been allowed to grow. Those who should know better –the football authorities, directors at other clubs, and especially in the press – ought to know what they are promoting when they perpetuate this idea. The myth is dangerous.

Ignorance is dangerous too, in particular to the ignorant. The soldiers who posed with the Protestant Ulster scarves are as ignorant as those who sewed that particular slogan on to them. Do they know that one of the fathers of Irish Republicanism, Theobald Wolfe Tone, was a Protestant? Do they realise that not every Protestant is automatically a Unionist?

The obsession some Rangers fans have with Protestantism continues to embarrass them, and skew their view of the world, in utter ignorance of the many, many, many Celtic legends who are Protestant and the vast numbers of them who walk through the gates at not just Celtic Park but stadiums up and down the country.

That crazy, backward section of the Rangers support are no more the voices of “the Protestant club” than they are the spokesmen for the “club of the troops.” They might put themselves forward as the defenders of the faith and of the army, but they speak for neither and frequently bring shame down on both. Neither institution belongs solely to Rangers, and to try and appropriate them as such is pretty pathetic.

Furthermore, those uniformed halfwits who spend their year looking forward to the Glorious Twelfth and their “freedom from Rome” are, easily, the most ignorant of them all.  Let me give them the ultimate lesson, a history lesson, some key information they appear to have missed.

The 17th Century was a tough one for the Roman Catholic Church. Several Catholic monarchies on the European continent had their own ideas about rule from Rome. They considered themselves as having a mandate from God, and didn’t take kindly to being told to come to heel. One of these centres of power was in Paris, under Louis XIV.

James II was a big problem for Rome, as his efforts to re-establish Catholicism in England was aided by Louis XIV, who wanted allies for his own power schemes. A strand of his strategy was to create a Catholic Church separate from Rome. The Pope, Innocent XI, saw the creation of two separate, and allied, Catholic power structures removed from his control and authority as, in part, a major threat to the continuation of the absolutist Roman Catholic Church which he led.

And so he made sure William of Orange had what he needed. He provided the financing for the Dutchman, and when Innocent XI died in 1689 his successor, Alexander VIII, continued to support William’s efforts to claim the English throne. In 1690, when William of Orange had won the Battle of the Boyne, there was a special mass held for him in the Vatican. And why not?

One of the direct consequences of that battle was there was no longer any threat of Louis XIV allying himself with the British Crown, and forcing a permanent split in the Catholic Church. In other words … the Battle of the Boyne actually helped maintain the authority of Rome, and kept it as a major world power … a status it still holds.

Those who march on the Glorious Twelfth are marching to commemorate one side in a bloody war for political power, in which Protestant and Catholic citizens and soldiers alike were no more than cannon fodder for the elites. A group of wealthy men pushed out another group of wealthy men, and religion was little more than a convenient standard in those battles. Those who died on both sides were used, terribly, as were all the victims of the wars of that era.

The ultimate outcome of the Battle of the Boyne was the continuation of the Roman Catholic Church as a unified faith. The “freedom” its modern adherents march for didn’t come about either. In the end, one absolutist, unelected, ruler was overthrown and replaced by another one. Some freedom. I always laugh when I hear the “freedom” line trotted out by those who are perfectly happy to be “ruled over” by a hereditary “national” monarchy with its roots in Germany.

The Protestantism so many of them claim to be in love with does not exist.

And before anyone starts, I am not attacking the Protestant faith. I am not a bigot, and deplore the bigots on all sides. I respect all religions but despise those who warp their teachings to suit their own evil point of view. For my part, I am a non-practicing Catholic, but I like to read, and I know full well that the Church of Rome has indulged in some pretty disreputable behaviour. There are Pope’s who were little more than thugs, who gave the orders which started wars, and burned people alive.They encouraged the torturing of others.Some even had more personal blood on their hands, murdering their way to the Throne of St Peter.

And in financing the Battle of the Boyne and the victory of William of Orange the Church of Rome of that era was content, perfectly content, to condemn millions of its own subjects to suppression and death for no other cause than the maintenance of its own power. Be under no illusions as to how I feel about that, or those who did it.

There are no rose tinted glasses on here.

There are good reasons why I don’t discuss religion in any way, shape or form. In the hands of greedy or hate filled people, or those motivated by temporal power rather than the good of mankind … well, you see what it becomes. It’s been used as a weapon, as a standard for hate, as an excuse for the worst excesses.

As I said a moment ago, I have far too much respect for the millions of people of faith to want to see their beliefs distorted or used by those who have either forgotten, or never knew in the first place, that God is Love, and that the first principle of faith is respect for those who believe in something else.

When Celtic is referred to as a “Catholic club” it makes my skin crawl, because it’s a gross distortion of reality. Most Rangers supporters I know would love to see the idea of their club as some kind of Protestant institution erased. The vast majority of the fans at both clubs could not care less about any of it, no matter what some misguided idiots in the media might often say.

Those “Ulster Is Protestant” scarves promote dangerous nonsense, because they misinterpret faith and bend reality to suit a warped point of view.  

They say that those who will not learn from history are destined to repeat it. Well, the real history lesson the Rangers fans are missing, the one that should have been burned into their brains, the one most obvious to the rest of us, is the one about what happened to the former incarnation of their football club. That lesson has gone totally unheeded, and to the detriment of everything they claim to hold most dear.

Just the other day, Walter Smith gave an interview which has to be read to be believed. It contained firm, irrefutable proof that the lessons have not been learned, that history is going to repeat itself all over again and it offered us no sign at all that these people even understand what happened, or that it was avoidable.

Smith really does take your breath away. His comments to the media, where he talked about how Rangers needed debt to appease the supporters, and how the fans would not tolerate a board which told them there was no money to spend, were staggering, and they indict the man who’s pursuit of success at any cost was part of the reason the club died.

Sometimes I think Rangers fans aren’t like the rest of us.

When Lawrence Marlborough took over that club in the early 80’s, no-one had the vaguest inkling of what was coming. His wealth bankrolled the first crazy, big money signings and from that time onward, Rangers Football Club has existed at someone else’s expense.

When Marlborough sold to Murray, and the orgy started for real, their supporters must have thought all their Christmases had come at once.

Yes, ticket prices started to rise, and they had to buy debentures, but it was all worth it when they looked out onto the pitch, at Laudrup and Flo and players like that. The trouble was, someone else was paying for it all, and that was never going to last.

Look back in time. It’s a long way back. We’re talking about nearly thirty years here.

For the past three decades a large number of Rangers fans simply have no frame of reference for anything else.

Even for those who grew up in the seventies, their formative years were long ago replaced in the memory banks by teams loaded down with expensive talents. Only a handful of Rangers supporters seem to recall that it wasn’t always like this, that once upon a time the club had to pay its own way and spend only what it earned.

For the last 30 years they’ve always been able to count on someone else paying the bill. Success was to be purchased by other people, for The Peepil. The notion of living within their means is an alien concept to them.

First it was Marlborough, then Murray. When he sold up it could only be to a “Motherwell born billionaire”. When Whyte crashed the company, Green’s “consortium” only had to talk about £10 million transfer warchests – for Division 3 football – and they had the keys to the kingdom in their hands.

Now the hopes are being pinned on Jim McColl, who knows well what the mind-set is there, and thus knows better than to sink even a penny of his own money into the bottomless pit, and Dave King, who’s battle with the tax authorities in South Africa, where he was risking prison and utter ruination, don’t suggest to me that he’s going to turn the spending taps on to full.

King is now being mentioned as the chairman, and already the media has one hand in his pocket, claiming he will personally fund “Rangers rise back to the top.” He hasn’t said this officially, of course, but it’s already expected of him, and that’s a bad start.

What a brass neck they have. The sense of entitlement is staggering. To expect a man to spend tens of millions of his own cash, with no prospect of a return, just to give the fans something to cheer about.

Smith has not grasped it. The fans have not grasped it. Running their club right means cutting costs, and living with years and years of going without.

Sooner or later – and sooner would be my bet – the brakes are going to be slammed on hard, and someone at Rangers is going to have to hold a press conference where they explain the facts of life to these Peepil.

The good times are over with. There will be no spending spree to catch Celtic, or to chase dreams of playing in the Group Stages of the Champions League. I cannot accentuate this point enough. Neither King nor McColl is stupid enough to start pouring money into Rangers in the way these people expect. These men did not build capital by wasting it in such a bizarre fashion. Even the deepest pockets will still wind up empty if good money is spent chasing dreams.

The club’s finances will not support it. Even Celtic depend on European football income and being able to make a profit on player sales, and we are a “well run club.”

Rangers can count on neither. Until costs are cut, savagely, and the club accepts its limitations, they will flirt with death on a regular basis.

There are few key players at Ibrox who would fetch more than a couple of million, at a stretch, and NewCo Rangers are still three years from kicking a ball in European competition, if they survive that long.

A club removed from the top flight cannot hope to draw in the kind of sponsorship earnings they need, and the creation of a sustainable merchandising infrastructure will cost them millions before they ever see a return on the investment.

 Anyone who believes the Sports Direct deal is good for the club hasn’t been paying attention in class. The hiving off of profitable parts of the Rangers franchise is already well underway, and the rumours of a sale and lease-back of the assets are rife.

That’s the slow, steady bleeding out of the club right there.

Forget with it the notion of shopping in the bargain basements of Europe’s forgotten leagues, and turning up Wanyama’s, Lustig’s or Van Dijk’s. Celtic didn’t luck onto these guys. The scouting system that went out and found those players took years – and millions – to assemble, and the structures that needed to be put in place to get those things are light years beyond the reach of a club which could soon be struggling even to keep the lights on.

Trying to explain this – trying to explain any of this – to certain sections of the Rangers support is like trying to explain quantum physics to a five year old. The mental acuity to make the leap hasn’t been fully developed yet.

Thirty years of having other people do the heavy lifting have taken their toll.

The superiority complex David Murray instilled, and then nurtured, and allowed to get out of control, is now infused in the DNA of what rose from the ashes of his calamitous sale to Craig Whyte. They still expect someone else to foot the bill. They kid themselves on that they represent the best of British, but it’s a thoroughly backward, disreputable, Daily Mail vision of Britain that is spewed forth in their songs and chants.

Their support for the troops is a nonsense, predicated on a perceived hatred of the poppy amongst the Celtic fan base. Their “Protestant superiority” is based on a distorted view of that branch of Christianity and a complete lack of understanding as to its roots and historical reality as a part of this island.

Never before have so many people been in such dire need of an education, or in grasping the facts of life, and the nature of the real world.

Yet reality is now howling at the door. They will learn … the hard way.

School is in. Classes start soon.

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

19 thoughts on “In Need Of An Education

  • 10 October, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Nail on the head… Well written and to the point. My only worry is King might actually put huge sums of money into sevco for the kudos alone.His fine from the SA tax authorities has left him with a vast amount of “clean” money at his disposal. Allied with the fact he’s dodged a bullet,he might be of a mind to splash out on his pet project…

  • 10 October, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    While I agree wholeheartedly with the thrust or your article I must take issue with your description of yourself as a “non-practicing Catholic.”

    I have been going to Celtic Prk for almost 55 years. I am proud of my Irish Catholic heritage and indeed that of our football club. I do not care a jot if the person next to me is a Muslim a Sikh or a Hindu.

    I am however wary of anyone who describes themselves as “non-practicing.” Are you trying to imply that you still revel in the pain of anti-Catholic prejudice but can’t or won’t be bothered to uphold the Faith of your fathers?

  • 10 October, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    It means I don’t go to church. I have never “revelled in the pain of anti-Catholic prejudice.” I hate all prejudice. Rather than “revel in the pain” of it, I prefer to confront it.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Oh it may well be that King is a mug, willing to pour tens of millions into a black hole. But it won’t last long, and sets up a whole new set of problems for them somewhere down the line. If Celtic are run even semi-competently, we should never be caught.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Great piece mate, enjoyed reading it and can’t argue with any of your points. I will say all the stuff supporting the troops is in theory a nice idea if the reason for it was the right reason which I sadly doubt.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    If you don’t go to church why bother mentioning your former religion in an otherwise excellent piece?

    The knuckledraggers will simply depict you as a “cardboard Catholic.”

  • 10 October, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I couldn’t really care less how they depict me. They can say what they want.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    James, my learned friend – you are what’s known as a lapsed Catholic.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Great piece well written up to your usual excellent standards,I,m well aware of the historical events described but it was wonderful perusing it again.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Don’t know if all you say is true but sounds good to me,despite what Patrick says I too am a non practising catholic and do not have any family links to Ireland.
    I have supported Celtic for more than 60 years and don’t have anything to do with the IRA or Ireland as I was born in Scotland and my grandparents were Scottish and Spanish.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    We must defend against the purveyors of lies and untruths WATP we can do no other

  • 10 October, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Not sure I get your point there chabroon. But ending it with that phrase of racial and religious supremacy is kinda sinister.

  • 10 October, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Excellent article, James. It was certainly an education for me. I wasn’t previously aware of the Holy Roman Empire’s complicity in the 17th century ‘troubles’.

    Slightly bemused on some of the comments questioning how you should describe your religious status. Don’t really see the point of it. Each to their own, I suppose. And that’s why everyday, I thank God I’m an Aetheist.

  • 11 October, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I’m just waiting on it all unravelling again down ibrox way. More jelly & ice cream on the menu, but washed down with champagne this time as, hopefully, this will be their death knell.
    as for the religious tie in – I’m an athiest (catholic branch), but my wife & children are practicing protestants. The boys have season tickets at CP along with me.
    The youngest was still in primary school (non-denominational) a couple of years ago when he was confronted by the school bully and pushed about a bit because he was a “fenian b” i.e. he supported Celtic. My son goes to church (COS) every week and was probably the most protestant of any of the school’s pupils.
    The bully, 11 at best, must have picked this up / learned it from his family. Unfortunately, this is the society we live in in the West of Scotland where primary school kids are taught to hate everything to do with Catholicism / Celtic / Eire – why would you bring up a kid to hate?
    It’s getting better, but it’s still out there, the only way it will end in the West of Scotland is when sevco (and the orange order) is finally laid to rest and society can start to move forward.
    p.s. if I had my way, I’d ban all religion – religion & oil, the cause of the majority of the wars /atrocities in the world today.
    p.p.s. my wife wasn’t religious when she met me, must be something to do with me.

  • 11 October, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Talk about telling people to suck eggs,they just don’t get it,it’s beyond belief that the only well written,truthfull,informative and honest no bullshit articles come from sites like this.You should send this out into the bigotdome atmosphere though the fall out just ain’t worth it!! Superb

  • 11 October, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    You have produced some very compelling and excellent articles, James, and this, for me, is right up there with the best of them. Perhaps it is because I sense a touch more anger than normal, but it is justified. I, like many others, believe that the death of the club masquerading as the long-dead Rangers, is inevitable. The vast sums of money they are wasting away is astonishing, and any sympathy they might possibly have built since the death of the former club vanished like a fart in the wind when they made it clear they had learned nothing and that humility was not a word spoken within the Bog Hoose (sorry, ‘Big’)

  • 11 October, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Get a life

  • 11 October, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Get a grip.

  • 13 October, 2013 at 11:47 am

    A great article with many great points in it.

    Us guys on the outside seen the big picture months/years before administration & liquidation of Oldco.

    All they do now is argue about Pacific Shelf and BJK in the hope that they statements somehow elevate them and their club back to where it (allegedly) belongs!

    It will end again, (of that i have no doubt) in a horrible mess, with administration a real possibility.

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