Clearly this is a subject the internet has opinions about. Since 25 October 2020, when I first engaged in this discussion, I have lost somewhere in the region of two thousand Twitter followers, been on the receiving end of a handful of stressful dog-piles, and have experienced a shunning (where online followers are either too nervous or too angry to like or retweet anything posted by the shunned) — all indications of the internet’s displeasure. Lots of people in every corner of this furious argument have suffered similar, and sometimes worse, experiences.
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?
Many reading this piece will no doubt be concerned that intolerance of Siol nan Gaidheal is itself intolerance, and the last thing we want to be is intolerant. We are an “inclusive” movement after all. But this paradox has been dealt with before, by the Austrian-born philosopher Karl Popper. After the horrors of the Holocaust and the defeat of Nazism in Europe Popper reasoned – rightly – that it is not intolerance to refuse to tolerate the intolerant.