In a parallel universe there is an ice hockey match in Canada.
One club draws its’ support and its’ narrative from the thousands of Scots who left Scotland during the “Highland Clearances”.
The other club are their bitter rivals and their support is largely drawn from the English ascendancy in Canada.
The Toronto Royals are Canada’s establishment club. The religious ethos of the club has always been Anglican. Their ex-players and managers populate the upper echelons of Canadian ice Hockey.
Until 1989 they did not hire any player who had a Scottish background, especially of the player had went to a faith school where the Highland free Presbyterian ethos was extant.
The Scottish team have been in the recent ascendancy in matters ice hockey. They are the current champions.
This is unacceptable for the followers of the Toronto Royals and their owner Dick Thatcher.
It hurts their pride to see the Winnipeg Gaels becoming the main power in the land.
Moreover in the global marketplace for sporting merchandise the current interest in Scottish products has seen the Winnipeg Gaels become a global brand.
They now are more financially powerful that the Toronto Royals.
These “immigrants” with their tartan tops and tourist shop bagpipes are so proud of their “heritage” who do they think they are?
These McDonald’s and Camerons are always wailing on about evictions and coffin ships!
Up strikes a song informing the synthetic highlanders of Manitoba that “the Clearances are over why don’t you go home?”
That night a young lad in the tartan top of the Winnipeg Gaels is set upon he is called a “Jacobite Bastard”. He is kicked to death. Supporters of the Winnipeg Gaels try and get the issue raised on phone ins and in newspapers. A well-known Toronto columnist says that if Canada is such a bad place then people are free to leave. It is, after all, only a song. The assistant coach of the Winnipeg Gaels, ex team captain, Willie Munro, a Skye man, is attacked in the street in Toronto and beaten unconscious.
The Scottish embassy (it is a parallel universe so we can make Scotland an independent nation!) is contacted by a Scottish passport holder in Manitoba. This Scottish citizen complains about the anti-Scottish racism of the song that has, in the Canadian media been treated as “sporting rivalry” and “banter”. The Scottish ambassador delegates the job to his cultural attaché. This leaks to the media and there is outrage at this “interference in Canadian affairs”.
The Toronto Royals CEO Godfrey Soames issues a statement warning the club’s supporters that they could be vulnerable to arrest if they sing the “Clearance Song”.
The club statement does not condemn the song as anti-Scottish or racist. Soames are not challenged about this by the Toronto based Ice Hockey journalists.
Later on a member of the Scottish Parliament is contacted my by a constituent.
The person had been visiting family in Manitoba and had gone to the Hockey match in Winnipeg. The ‘Gaels were playing the Toronto Royals. He was appalled at this “humorous” deriding of the Clearances and those that it deposited in Canada in the 19th century. The Scottish politician raises the issue in Edinburgh with the Scottish foreign minister.
The Canadian born Journalist in Scotland who has been working on this story is pilloried with abuse from Canada. Canadian racists inform him that he is a “pretend Scotsman,” “..We’re glad you went home … kilt wearing trailer trash!”
The journalist contacts the Canadian ice Hockey authorities, which have a mission statement to stamp out racism. The Ice Hockey federation are happy, they state on their website, that racist chanting at Inuit players has markedly decreased in recent years. The journalist repeatedly contacts the Ice Hockey federation and the Canadian ice Hockey players union for comments on the “Clearance Song”.
He also tries and gets a statement about the decision of a Canadian born Lachlan MacDonald to elect to play for Scotland in the upcoming Ice Hockey world cup. Lachlan MacDonald, a Manitoba lad, is booed in every Hockey stadium in Canada. He is referred to as a “traitor” by sports Journalists. It is rumoured that he is considering moving clubs and going to play in the USA Ice Hockey league to escape this racist abuse.
The Scotland based journalist does a tour of various locked doors In Canada and can only report “not available for comment”. Finally the anti-racism charity “Lets Kick racism out of the Rink” updates their website to say that the “Clearance song is, in our opinion, racist”.
Back home in Scotland people who are reading about this “Clearance Song” are dismayed that such attitudes exist in the 21st century. Official inaction against the supporters of the Toronto Royals continues and they, defiantly, belt out the “Clearance song”. In the age of digital 24 hr media the image of Canada as a modern, pluralist, tolerant society suffers badly.
Of course all of the foregoing is very very wide of the mark.
Canada is the gold standard for how to make a multi-cultural society work.
It is the anti-thesis of their large dysfunctional neighbour to the south.
I did say it was a parallel universe.
The analogy though is firm enough.
The Scottish embassy had every right to raise the matter and, indeed, a duty to the Scottish citizen domiciled in Canada.
No right thinking person could come to any other conclusion that the “Clearance song” was racist and those supporters of the Toronto Royals who repeatedly sang it were themselves racists.