At this point, the outlook for the Scottish independence cause is bleak. We have had a number of clear opportunities to set political divisions aside and put independence first. But we have failed to take these opportunities. The Scottish National Party has committed itself to the project of becoming a self congratulation society for the polite and mild-mannered, while the rest of the movement has been left to fester and stew in its own juices after getting absolutely nothing of what it wanted.
The apologia pro vita sua is an apologetic — a formal defence or justification of a theory or doctrine. The article I was sharing with Rosa was a defence of my position. I was explaining why I have taken the position I have on this debate, and that is that I do not accept the biological essentialism of the gender critical people and nor do I uncritically endorse everything about gender theory. What I am against is hatred and bigotry. I stand by this apologia.
National belonging is not in fact native to the human condition. Nationalism is a psycho-political development with which both Wallace and Bruce were unfamiliar. When we ask how these heroes of our ancient past would react to Scotland today, we may have to prepare ourselves for the worst. Neither William Wallace nor Robert the Bruce would recognise their Scotland in our Scotland. They would not understand our language, that peasants elect other peasants to government — our democracy — would confuse them, and that we abandoned the Church of Rome...
Its quixotic readiness to go on crusade against every perceived wrong, hampered at every turn by its lack of maturity and inability to systematically think through some of the most basic tenets of civilisation — the presumption of innocence, for example — has turned it into a mob and created an environment in which unaccomplished yet entitled youths are readily masking their personal failures and inadequacies behind complex webs of manufactured and appropriated grievances.
But there are other ways to communicate. As a Christian of the Catholic tradition, I have serious reservations about the more radical aspects of Gender Theory. I do not, for example, believe that sex and gender are fluid, and — if we must define the human person in narrow and reductionist biological terms (we are more than the sum of our bits) — I struggle with the claim that ‘trans women are real women.’ But trans women and men are real people.
‘Someone on the internet said something mean about me,’ joked Paul Kavanagh a couple of years ago as he recounted to me his experience of negative comments online. And this is true; no matter what we do or say, there will always be someone lurking somewhere online — invariably hiding behind an anonymous profile — who will go out of their way to say something biting and nasty. Here we’re not talking about trolls. We have come to expect them and when we realise this is what they are up to we can dismiss them without much thought.
Paul Kavanagh has written an article explaining to his readers why he will be stepping back from the 2021 Holyrood election campaign, and the experiences he has described are truly sickening. As we are all aware, Paul suffered a stroke a number of months ago and is struggling to recover. While he was in hospital, unable to receive visits from friends and loved ones due to the pandemic restrictions, he lost his beloved friend — our beloved friend — Ginger the wee ginger dug.
Yes, there are serious issues affecting the independence movement, and independence politics is a passionate politics touching so many of us right at the heart of our identities. In an instant, arguments and insults are accelerated to accusations of treason and unionism. It was when I saw one prominent antagonist describe his fellow independentistas as ‘former indy supports’ that it really struck me that things have gone too far. We cannot continue to be this rigid and unforgiving. Independence demands the hard work and dedication of hundreds of thousands of people.