The supporters of Rangers Football club had a special message from their club last night as they took their seats to watch the match against Hamilton Academicals.
If they sang “The Famine Song” they were liable to be arrested.
This statement had been written after consultation with the police.
Strathclyde police later reported that there was only one arrest at Ibrox Park and that was for drunkenness.
James McCarthy, the young Irish midfielder for Hamilton who had received sustained racist abuse from Rangers fans on Saturday in the SPL at New Douglas Park, was allowed to go about his job without being told to go home to Ireland.
This is progress. If it takes little electronic reminders to Rangers fans not to indulge in racist singing because they are at risk of arrest then so be it.
One day such warnings will not be required.
They are at the moment. The “Self-Policing” initiative brought in by Rangers Supporters organisations obviously did not include forbidding grown men racially abusing a 17 years old kid who plays his international football for the Republic of Ireland.
If “Self-Policing” fails then real policing is required. As it turned out all that was needed to remind the Rangers support that the Famine song was, in the opinion of the police, illegal.
When social historians come to write this period of Scotland’s history they will undoubtedly spend a few paragraphs on unpacking the “Famine Song Controversy”.
My Professor at York University, Laurie Taylor, was fond of highlighting where an old dispensation was blindsided by a new paradigm. This is, essentially, what I think has happened here. The Famine Song controversy has been a clash of rights versus racism.
The Famine Song was merely the most recent manifestation of Scotland’s oldest racism. In the old Scotland the idea of the mere Irish having rights was a stupid as blacks folks being at the front of the bus before Rosa Parks said “enough”
Racism is, in contemporary Scotland, not only socially unacceptable it is also illegal.
So the Famine Song had to be defended by those who sang it with a denial that the song was, in fact, racist.
David Edgar of the Rangers Supporters Trust stated on Radio 5 Live that the Famine song was “a rather tasteless chant”, but he dismissed the idea that the Famine Song was racist as “nonsense”.
Belatedly the campaigning organisation “Show Racism The Red Card” publicly stated, on the 6th of this month, on their website that the Famine song was racist.
Rangers Football Club has yet to publicly concur with that opinion.
The police had advised Rangers Football club in September that singing the song could put the singers at risk to arrest for a “racial breach of the peace”.
The Famine song is racist. The debate on that should be closed. Why this controversy ensued was that the denigration of the Irish in the West of Scotland is in the societal DNA of the old Scotland of the British Empire. That is the Scotland that spawned Rangers.
That global expansion of the London state is now, of course, a matter of history it is no longer a matter of fact. There are more people in Cork City than live in British Crown Colonies today.
The Empire is over and now only the trailer trash of that empire remains to vent their hatred at those who once were that empire’s victims.
Graham Spiers stated, in the aftermath of the Manchester riots in May that “a white underclass has attached itself to Rangers.”
Moreover the Times journalist was of the opinion that “there is a social poison at the heart of the club.”
It was, in my opinion, that poisonous core that sang the Famine Song with such gusto.
Alan Shatter wrote to the Ibrox club on October 2nd about the Famine song. I checked with this office today (October 29th) and he had yet to receive a reply to his letter.
Ireland and the Irish still have a special place in the mindset of the “white underclass” that Graham Spiers referred to when discussing the Manchester riots.
Ironically it has been the involvement of the Irish in Ireland and our elected representatives that has seen this racist sub-stratum scuttle in confusion.
How many of those who racially abused 17-year-old James McCarthy at New Douglas Park on Saturday sat obediently at Ibrox last night?
Is that all it takes?
The Billy Boys, a song roared in hatred at the Glasgow Irish Untermensch for generations, for generations, is now gone, banished from soccer stadia in Scotland.
It is appropriate to use the lexicon of the Nazis because the song celebrates the street gang formed by Billy Fullerton.
Fullerton was one of Mosley’s Blackshirts and formed a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Glasgow in the 1920s.
In the new paradigm of rights and respect in Scotland the old culture of Ibrox has no place.
If it is required that for a while such basic tenets of human decency need to be displayed on large screens in big writing, if not in big words, at Ibrox Park then so be it.
Last night the Famine song was not sung at Ibrox.
Now that is a result that I can truly celebrate.