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By Jason Michael
EIGHT MEN WERE ARRESTED on Saturday in Glasgow for sectarian offences after an Orange Order parade of a few hundred persons took place in the city. On the same day somewhere in the region of ten thousand independence supporters marched through the town of Ayr without a single incident. Without fail, whenever and wherever they happen, Orange marches result in heightened tensions, binge drinking, and chauvinistic anti-Catholic hate speech, and violence. Any passing observer would be tempted to think there is something about this quasi-military showband organisation that creates this obnoxious mayhem, but every year spokesmen for the Order are wheeled out by the unionist media to deny its sectarianism and extol its virtues as a loyal institution for the celebration of Ulster Protestant culture. So, what is the story?
Founded in 1795 at the height of anti-colonial land agitation in Ireland, the Orange Order is an explicitly anti-Catholic sectarian secret fraternity committed to the defence of the British colonial project on the island of Ireland. Throughout its history it has functioned at every level of unionist society in Ireland to maintain the dominance of the British Protestant Ascendancy over and against the native and dispossessed people of Ireland. Its rôle has, from its beginning, always been political rather than religious; campaigning against the legalisation of Catholic worship and emancipation in the nineteenth century, and fighting against Home Rule and for the partition of Ireland in the twentieth century. Following partition, the Unionist Party sprang from the Order, and the B-Specials – the paramilitary police force infamous for its brutality – was made up almost exclusively of Orangemen. In recent times it has kept close links with the British Conservative Party.
We are horrified - but not surprised - at the assault by two uniformed men from the 'Drumchapel Protestant Boys' Or… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Call It Out (@Call_It_Out_) July 08, 2019
Due to the effectiveness of its tactics in Ireland it was introduced into Scotland during the period of cultural Britishification after the defeat of the Jacobites:
Orangeism was imported into Scotland as a handy instrument of colonial rule. Its function, by 1821 – the year of the first Orange march in Scotland, was as much to replace among Scots Protestants their sense of Scottishness with that of Britishness as it was to remove the possibility of rebellious collaboration between Protestants and Catholics – an alliance which almost cost the British state Ireland in 1798.
Our mistake today is that we think of Orange Order sectarianism as part of a wider petty or tribal feud between Protestants and Catholics – between Rangers and Celtic etc. Of course, this is a useful and easily digestible narrative, and one no doubt the British establishment would prefer us to swallow because it absolves it of any and all responsibility for the behaviour of the Order. As it is in Ireland, state supported sectarianism in Scotland is not about religious difference. No one in modern British history has been killed over a theological dispute. Orangemen are not overly concerned with Catholic theology; with the Eucharist, the Liturgy, or even Ecclesiology. Most would be hard-pressed to even explain what these things are. The Orange Order is concerned with Catholics and Catholicism, but not as people of a different religious tradition and another type of Christianity. Its preoccupation is with what they represent politically.
The loyalism of the Order is built on the British idea of a Protestant monarchy for a Protestant people, an inherently supremacist imperial and settler-colonialist ideology stemming from the Glorious Revolution and the Protestant Succession. Even with the word ‘Protestant’ in the mix, this is not a religious ideology. Protestant in this political usage is as integral to the Christian faith as Zionism is to Judaism. It is a brutal imperial ideology hiding behind the veil of religion – nothing more. Jesus was not an Ulsterman and certainly wouldn’t have sung the praises of the British Empire as he was subtly undermining the power of the Roman Empire in first century Palestine. Rather, Orangeism is virulently anti-Catholic because it sees British and Irish Catholicism – and with some merit – as a reminder of the illegitimacy of every British monarch since 11 December 1688. It has been the mission of the Orange Order since its inception to create legitimacy for the Crown and Britishness by brute force, and this has been particularly directed against those who represent to them a loyalty to the last legitimate British monarch, James II and VII – Catholics.
Banning the Orange Order does not mean we have to ban all marches. The independence movement is not a hate group. W… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) July 09, 2019
Unsurprisingly, most Catholics have moved on. Few Catholics in England, Scotland, or Wales waste their time fantasising of the return of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Among Irish Catholics the idea of monarchy has in the main been consigned to the dustbin of history, with the majority of Catholics in Ireland considering themselves republicans – rejecting monarchy entirely in favour of representative parliamentary democracy.
But the anti-Catholicism of the Orange Order continues. This time last year Scotland was shocked by the news an Orange parade had attacked St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow as it passed. Orangemen verbally abusing parishioners coming out of Mass, attempted to storm the building. Stopping them at the door, the priest, Fr Tom White, was assaulted. In Belfast, it has now become a regular occurrence for St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Road to be targeted and its parishioners and clergy abused and harassed during marches. One video shows frightened elderly people huddled at the door of the church afraid to leave and one band marching in circles outside the church playing ‘The Famine Song:’
Now they raped and fondled their kids
That’s what those perverts from the dark side did
And they swept it under the carpet
And Large John he hid
Their evils seeds have been sown
’Cause they’re not of our own
Well the famine is over
Why don’t you go home?
We can delude ourselves in Scotland; saying that this happened in Ireland, but Belfast is only another stop on the Marching Season pilgrim route that links towns and cities all over Scotland to Belfast and the rest of Ulster. Scots Orangemen are as common a feature at marches in the north of Ireland as Ulstermen are at marches here in Scotland. When it comes to the world of Orangeism, the Order treats Scotland and the north of Ireland as the same place – the Ulster Scots.
Yet, we feel that we can’t ban these marches – that we can’t ban the organisation – because to do this would be illiberal, it wouldn’t be tolerant. Rubbish! If the Orange Order insisted on marching through the more affluent streets of Glasgow, insisting that they too were “the Queen’s highway,” they would have been banned decades ago. If their songs and their open hostility were directed against Jews or people of colour instead of Catholics, the government would have no option but to ban the organisation. So, why is this not the case when they are marching down working-class streets and abusing Catholics? Not only this, but why have local councils in Scotland been giving the Orange Order public funds? Just imagine if Tower Hamlets borough council in London gave £1,500 of taxpayers’ money to the BNP to support an anti-immigrant rally. There would be an outcry. But that’s not what happens in Scotland. It’s not what happens in the north of Ireland.
Should Orange parades be banned in Scotland? Please RT—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) July 06, 2019
It is not intolerance to ban intolerant organisations and events. We do it all the time. This is why we don’t have an openly neo-Nazi fascist party. It is why hate preachers are silenced and refused entry into the country. It is why online paedophile rings are shut down and their members prosecuted. The intolerant and the intolerable are banned all the time without us becoming an intolerant society. But people don’t seem to understand this. On a poll I posted to Twitter asking if Orange parades should be banned in Scotland – a poll in which 92 per cent of the 6,292 respondents said they should, someone replied by calling me a Nazi for saying I would ban Nazis. Yes, people really are this inconsistent. There is also a fair amount of hypocrisy in it. We simply cannot claim that it would be illiberal to ban an openly anti-Catholic and violent hate group while supporting bans on radical hate preachers, neo-Nazism, and child pornography clubs. Tolerance demands the prohibition of the intolerant and the intolerable. Karl Popper made this clear in The Open Society when he described the paradox of tolerance – that, if permitted to remain within the law, the intolerant will always seek to destroy tolerance, freedom, and democracy. The open society cannot exist unless it protects itself from intolerance.
But this doesn’t happen with the Orange Order because its brand of intolerance is politically useful. It keeps people divided along sectarian lines, allowing the British state to reign over a divided kingdom. But we have to wake up to this nonsense. There is no room in Scotland for this nasty, bigoted rubbish. People must be free to worship as they see fit without fear of harassment and violence. We cannot claim to be a modern and progressive nation while allowing this garbage to be paraded down our streets. Like all other hate groups, it should be shut down and sent packing.
Orange March Past St Patrick’s Church, Belfast