Phil Mac Giolla Bhain sent me his latest article just now and I didn’t have to read the full piece to get the inference of the headline.
I only had to look at the picture at the top of it.
It was immediately clear what he was going to write and say, and I agreed with it at once.
That picture, surrounded by Lennon’s comments, is intended to conjure up images of the racist stereotype of the “bog thick Irishman.”
You don’t have to look at it for more than two seconds to see that.
It’s a scandalous picture, and I don’t know what’s more concerning; the idea that nobody inside the paper spotted the inference in that or the idea that they did and thought it was a gas to put that out there.
Certainly the page editor knew what he was doing.
As Phil has written, there is a whole sordid, nasty, history of this in Scotland.
As America gets ready to swear in its second Irish Catholic President, their country is riven with racism. But their country has faced up to its complex and difficult past whereas ours never has.
Anti-Irish racism is still, as some have described it, “the last acceptable form of bigotry.”
This blog has made its feelings on Lennon abundantly clear.
I’ve said repeatedly though that there are two kinds of criticism; the kind we offer, all of us, as Celtic fans, and the kind that stinks of hatred and even sectarianism, and this is one of those moments that clearly, and easily, crosses that line.
It is an outrage that the newspaper allowed that to go out at all, far less that they publicised it. As Phil points out, they have a hell of a lot of questions to answer.
Over the last few days, Lennon has been called “popcorn teeth” by one newspaper in The Herald group and now there’s this.
The people responsible had better understand something; whatever our issues with Lennon the manager, we will robustly protect Neil Lennon the man from this kind of agenda-led bullshit by people who simply wish him ill.
The SLO of the club has confirmed that The Times is investigating its own people after their “popcorn teeth” insult. The Herald now must have its own internal inquiry into that scandalous sports page.
It is beyond the pale. Heads ought to roll for it.
And in the absence of that, this is one of those times that crosses the line so blatantly that Herald and Times journalists should be told they are not welcome at Parkhead until someone offers a fulsome apology and/or loses their job.
Andy Walker’s offence was a pin-prick compared to this, and it’s why I was so angry at Lennon the other day when he took that reckless action. The perpetrators of real hatred think they can get away with whatever they want, because they think our focus is narrow, frivolous and personal.
This is exactly the kind of thing that deserves a ban and we should not hesitate to use that ultimate sanction in this case, unless someone explains that outrage to us and makes full restitution for it.