The violence in George Square is not Scotland’s shame. This is a British problem. Britishness owns it. Sectarianism and racism are a disease of British nationalism.

First published in June 2020.

Yet again British nationalist fascist thugs have rioted in the centre of Glasgow, and yet again we see the intimate connection between racism, anti-Catholic bigotry, so-called loyalism, and British nationalism. And yet again the Conservative party in Scotland is conspicuous by its silence. For all the hand wringing about the independence movement, Scotland’s racism is tightly bound up with British imperialism. For far too long the media and establishment in Scotland have turned a blind eye to Scotland’s problem with British nationalism. It’s time that ended.

This doesn’t come out of nowhere. We had British nationalist fascist thugs sending bullets and parcel bombs through the post in 2011. We had threats to journalists writing about their beloved fitba club in 2012. We had British nationalist fascist thugs attacking peaceful independence supporters in 2014. We had British nationalist fascist thugs attacking Irish republicans in 2019.

Parcel bombs sent to Neil Lennon, McBride and Godman - 20 April 2011. / BBC News

And in 2020 we have seen British nationalist fascist thugs run rampage in the centre of Glasgow, because they know that they’ve got away with it before, and they’re convinced they’ll get away with it again. For far too long the authorities in Scotland have appeased them, covered up for them, tried to blame ‘both sides’ when it’s only British nationalists fascist thugs who are guilty of violence. And for generations we’ve had institutionalised anti-Irish racism masking itself as sectarianism, as a problem for the fitba, as a problem for the West Coast. And generation after generation, year after year, it goes on and it goes on because the media and authorities in Scotland are too afraid to call this out for what it is. This is not a Scottish problem. This is not an Irish problem. This is a problem with British nationalism and its violent entitlement.

Let’s be clear. The violence in George Square is not Scotland’s shame. This is a problem which belongs to British nationalism in Scotland. This is a British problem. Britishness owns it. Sectarianism and racism are a disease of British nationalism. Rule Britannia is the song that they chant while they’re kicking our heads in. The union flag is the flag they fly to tell us that we don’t belong.

You don’t need to scratch British nationalism deeply in order to expose it as an ideology of exclusion, of supremacy, of exceptionalism, of hatred. It’s entirely a property of British nationalism. Hatred in Scotland wears red white and blue. Bigotry waves the union flag. Racism sings God Save the Queen.

Let’s be clear. This is not as you will see or hear in the woefully complicit Scottish media “clashes between rival protesters”. This is British nationalist fascist thugs attacking peaceful law-abiding people who disagree with them. This is a violent assault by British nationalists defending what it pleases them to call the Union. There is no moral equivalence here. There is only British nationalist fascist thugs and their innocent victims. One side organised a peaceful gathering in support of the rights of vulnerable people, the other side turned up purely to attack them.

For generations, racist and sectarian bile has been spewed on football terraces, during the Orange Order’s hate fests, in sports clubs, in pubs and clubs, and it has largely been ignored by the police. It’s long past time that the law in Scotland adopted a zero tolerance policy towards Britain’s racism problem in Scotland. Bigotry is not culture. Hatred is not culture. Screaming anti-Catholic abuse outside a Catholic church while children making their First Communions cower inside is not culture. British nationalist fascism isn’t culture. It’s the naked display of British exceptionalism. It’s the naked display of violent power. It’s the naked display by supporters of the British state of what they will wreak upon anyone who dares to challenge them.

We have a Scottish media which for far too long has appeased fascism, because that’s exactly what it is when the BBC publishes a story about the events of this evening titled “Police intervene amid rival protests in Glasgow.” There were no rival protests. The police were not standing between two angry baying mobs. The police were being attacked by fascists who were hell bent on attacking any innocent pedestrian whom they suspected to be ‘other’, to be not properly British, to be a ‘fenian’, to be black. A media that doesn’t call that out for exactly what it is is a media that enables fascism, that is complicit in fascism, that appeases fascism.

The BBC publishes a story about the events titled “Police intervene amid rival protests in Glasgow.” - 17 June 2020. / BBC News

The BBC in Scotland is an absolute disgrace, carrying on in the grand old tradition of framing British nationalist thuggery as rival protests, as anything but what it is – a sickness that runs right to the very heart of British nationalism in Scotland, that same British nationalism that the BBC so assiduously promotes.

The Scottish Conservatives are an absolute disgrace. For years their politicians have dog whistled on social media about the “Queen’s 11”. They’ve happily stoked the hatred of the far right British nationalist mob with their constant demonisation of independence supporters. And now that British nationalist mob runs riot, for the second time this week, in the streets of Glasgow and they say nothing.

Nothing to do with me, guv, is the Tory response. How dare you tar me with that brush, is the response of British nationalists in the Labour party. Well this is your problem. This is your side. You are responsible for this mess. Did you see it? Did you see what went on in the centre of Glasgow? That’s what British nationalism looks like in the raw. Fix it. Fix it now. Do something. Speak out. Because if you don’t you’re every bit as bad as those who throw punches in the street while screaming about about tarriers and fenians.

And yes, I am f**king angry. Yes, I am raging. When I was a kid, many decades ago, I cowered in terror in a Catholic church while British nationalist fascist bigots banged their big drum and bellowed songs of hatred outside. And here we are, in 2020, and those same British nationalist bigots are running amok in our streets and in our communities, terrifying and intimidating anyone whom they perceive to be a threat to the ascendancy of British rule – migrants, people of colour, Catholics, Irish people, independence supporters. Our toleration for them ends today. It’s time they went to jail. It’s time we called them what they are – British nationalist fascist thugs.

It’s only a matter of time before those same far right British nationalist fascist thugs attack a yes rally, and then the Scottish media and British nationalist politicians will rub their hands with glee and blame the independence movement for creating division.🔷

[This piece was originally published in Wee Ginger Dug’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 19 June 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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