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Behind the Herald paywall- Hugh MacDonald’s brilliant article on WATP kultchur

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Since the sickeningly predictable scenes at George Square last Saturday there has been two distinct viewpoints on the incidents that BBC Scotland, STV and Sky News decided not to sent their own reporters and camera crews to cover.

Humza Yousaf set in place a change of narrative when he highlighted the anti-Catholic hatred of many of the Covidiot Law Breakers during an interview with Radio Clyde. Nicola Sturgeon picked up on that issue when she tweeted at Sunday lunchtime.

Those comments brought about the usual deny and deflect reactions from inside Ibrox. Apparently it was a very small minority of so-called fans that caused carnage in the city centre although there was no mention of Chelsea supporters.

Andrew Smith of the Scotsman was first to tell it is as it is with a midweek piece that covered most of the areas of hatred conveniently ignored when the Old Firm and sectarian are happily linked to any disorder.

Stuart Cosgrove came up with a similarly detailed piece in The National, while, behind a paywall Hugh MacDonald called upon eight decades of football watching to chronicle the changing face of Scotland with the toxic nature of those who claim to be THE PEOPLE.

Now a freelance, MacDonald details why that bizarre superiority complex is dead and buried in 2021 with only one place to hide for those with that poisonous viewpoint.

Behind The Herald paywall, MacDonald writes:

IT was instructive to be an unwitting attender at the Rangers celebrations last week. Heading for the Clyde tunnel on the way home after a holiday on Arran, my car gently eased its way among supporters at Ibrox more than two hours after the match and presentation of the Scottish Premiership trophy.

My passenger, who knows as much about football as I do about astrophysics, asked for an explanation of the scenes. Her reply was pointed. “If they are celebrating, why does everyone seem so angry?”

Why, indeed.

I have watched Scottish football in eight different decades. The biggest most dramatic switch in this time has been the role and perception of Rangers in the national game.

Once it was an institution viewed, with resentment or awe, as the establishment club. Once, with varying degrees of accuracy, it was viewed as the second club for those fans of Falkirk, Kilmarnock, Hearts or whoever. A friend once opined to me many decades ago: “There are two supports in Scotland: the Celtic support and the anti-Celtic support.”

No more. Rangers have become isolated. The club and the fans have become the targets of contempt, vilification and wounding humour. This all coalesced around the liquidation of the Rangers Football Club plc which was started in 2012.

The anger of the Rangers fans, though, has deeper causes than the economic meltdown of their club and the perceived injustices that ensued.

There is disillusion even disenfranchisement at the heart of a substantial section of the Ibrox support. It is ironically expressed in the slogan that is plastered on club property and routinely expressed by the support. It proclaims: We Are The People. Except, of course, they are not. They are some of The People but increasingly at odds with a changing Scotland.

There were once certainties in Scotland. I lived through them as a child of the sixties. It was a country of largely full-employment. What was dubbed the white, Protestant working-class were ensured a job, perhaps even a trade. There was a simple monoculture, Scottish nationalism was largely a fringe belief that flared up occasionally at by-elections.

The routine question of what school you attended, asked in interviews and placed on forms, served as protection to the Protestant, or more accurately non-Catholic, status quo,

No more. Scotland is a multi-cultural society, however fragile and incomplete that state may be. Scotland is a country where the Union is under threat. Scotland is no longer a country of full employment. Scotland is a country where the working-class can now be crudely lumped as the non-working class.

This has all impacted heavily on a constituency who believed they were The People. Historic certainties have disappeared. They have been replaced by a reality that is unpalatable. Once seemingly in tune with prevailing orthodoxy, they are now loudly discordant as the world moves on and they are marooned in a present and future that offers only a threat to beliefs they hold but cannot fully articulate.

Human beings crave certainty. The first reaction to change is often to stimulate our fight or flight response. There can be an added layer of resentment that those who were once viewed as intrinsically and irredeemably inferior are now patently in positions of power and influence. There can be a feeling that one is cast aside, forgotten, no longer part of the imperatives or drift of society at large.

All this was reflected in the chants and songs over last week. But it was most obviously demonstrated in behaviour. The violence was explained by some as a “football thing”. It was labelled by others as a “drink thing”. But other football fans do not “celebrate” this way. When Rangers fans discovered there was no one to fight with, they fought with Rangers fans.

Celtic won 12 consecutive, domestic trophies – the last just before Christmas – without the need to call in police in riot gear. St Johnstone won the league cup this season and the idea of fan disorder in Perth is absurd to the point of producing a guffaw.

This is a Rangers problem. This is a problem that permeates the Rangers support. It flared up gaudily and violently last week. It occurred in March after the league was won. It happened in Manchester at the UEFA Cup final in 2008. It happens with a weary regularity.

There is deep, unaddressed anger in all of this. The events at George Square can be described as a howl of rage.

But it may also be a cry for help.

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