“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” – Albert Einstein.
There are few people who would regard the death of the Queen just over a week ago to be something that plunged this country into crisis, but crisis is a word with an interchangeable meaning.
Say rather “negative circumstances” and you’re onto something.
There are ways in which we have learned a lot this week about the country that we live in. In other ways we’ve only reminded ourselves of the things that we already knew. What we didn’t learn anything about was the ruthless opportunism of the right and their willingness to appropriate any situation for the purposes of waging their cultural war.
There has been a lot of talk, over the last nine days, about respect and how it is paid and how it should be paid. The rush by people in every walk of life to pay homage to the monarch has given some an opportunity to claim that their mood is reflective of that in the nation as a whole. But they speak, in the main, for a very small minority.
There are complicated reasons why so many have acted this way in the last week, and we should not ignore that a perceived need to show compliance has been one of the driving forces of it. Others want to be part of history, or feel as if they are. That’s reflected not only in the crowds, but in the social media posts and other facets of “public expression.”
Take the queues outside the Abbey.
As extraordinary as it might appear that so many people are willing to wait for hours upon hours to walk by a coffin, we have to remember that on this island there are 67 million of us, and the vast majority are warm at home and baffled by those images.
We also need to remember that there are people who queue overnight outside department stores when the latest shiny thing arrives in stock, or during those times when everything is being sold at deep discounts. The phenomenon of staying out in the freezing cold with a bunch of fellow travellers is not exactly unheard of.
That so many people across the country are, in fact, paying respect is not in the least doubt though.
It’s just that those shouting the loudest on their behalf aren’t amongst their number.
You are not “paying respect” or “honouring the Queen” if this entire period of “mourning” has simply, for you, been an opportunity to pour out bile and moralise and point your finger and whip up hatred against anyone with whom you disagree.
You are simply using a “national tragedy” to further your own ends, and that is a trick as old as civilisation itself.
Those are the people who have spent this week pounding Celtic.
In this they have willing allies and co-conspirators in folk so depraved that they have weaponised child abuse in their own version of the culture war. These are the people we have “offended.”
“Respect the dead” is one of their favourite shouts.
Not for them though practising what they preach. These are, after all, the same people who have spent years singing vile songs about the Irish famine and who have made loathsome chants about the Lisbon Lions.
“If you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all,” is the mantra of our enemies in the media. Hugh Keevins was the latest guy to trot that line out this morning.
This is the same Hugh Keevins who has scorned Celtic managers, Celtic signings, Celtic fans and club officials in the most atrocious language over the course of his undistinguished career. He is not alone in pushing a line which, if it was applied across the boards, would silence forever those advocating it.
“At the very least we now know what the Ange in Ange Postecoglou stands for. Absolutely. Not. Good. Enough,” is just one pearl of wisdom he’s shared with us over the years.
So contemptible creatures of the right-wing media and our traditional enemies at home; these are the folk who have used us for target practice all week long, and all the while the Ibrox club’s board has, itself, used this national event to pander to its own supporters and distract from the utter shambles that they currently preside over.
I think – no, I’m sure – that these people believe they’ve had a good week.
But really, the only good bit of it for them was the result today and we’re already focussing on moving past that when the international break is over. For now, we have to live with that one and ponder what went wrong. Nothing else is really important.
They think they’ve damaged Celtic in some way these past nine days.
Yet really, what they’ve done is draw attention to three things, and I’ve already mentioned one of them: the shameless opportunism of the right-wing media and its bottomless well of hatred.
Second to that though is that the boot-boys and bullies of the right-wing press pack aren’t nearly as powerful or scary or as influential as they think they are.
They’ve spent the last few years pulverising people and companies and institutions into grovelling apologies or other subservient behaviour. They have forced huge corporations and folk with sterling credentials to fawn and bow.
They believe that they can do that to anyone.
But Celtic has stood incredibly strong against that tide. Aside from a mild suggestion from our manager that fans should observe the courtesies, Celtic itself has refused to be cowed. Our fans refuse to be cowed.
We have done what so few institutions and groups who have been faced with this sustained onslaught have found the strength to do; Celtic has stood firm and those in the immediate crosshairs have gotten right back in the faces of these people and told them where they can shove their “outrage.”
One of the best weapons we have at our disposal is an understanding about how millions in this country view these people themselves. They are scorned by the liberal media and despised by the left. Guys like James O’Brien have routinely humiliated them in interviews and in the brutal dissecting of their ignorant, and at times abhorrent, views.
These people have a large megaphone, but so much contemptible vitriol and odium has poured out of it over the years that most people either pay them no attention or side, reflexively, with those they are hating on.
That has played beautifully to our advantage.
The third and last thing is that they’ve merely reinforced Celtic’s reputation as a club with a fan-base that loathes the established order in this backward country.
Celtic’s reputation south of the border has survived worse than this.
Indeed, it has thrived in the face of what should be insurmountable obstacles.
For years it’s been fairly common knowledge that a section of our fans is Irish Republican, anti-monarchist and left wing.
Think the events of this week have surprised folk with new information?
I can assure you that it’s very much the opposite.
It hasn’t stopped us from making friends down through the years.
Remember, the Celtic fans were singing songs about the Irish War of Independence when that war was still ongoing, and when the IRA were bombing the mainland. We had friends everywhere we went.
Nothing this week has shaken us to the core, no matter what some halfwits believe.
Today the eyes of all those people were on us, hoping to see some shameful episode which they could sneer about. Instead, as Andrew Smith points out, what they got instead was a humorous banner accompanied by the intended applause.
This is the week when Celtic stood in the eye of a storm and let it rage all around us.
We did not bend far less break.
We did not lose a single friend we had.
Our enemies think they won some great PR victory, but the attention span of the audience they preach to is notoriously short, and she’ll be in the ground come Monday and we don’t play again until October.
The strength of Celtic endures.
It always has. and it always will.