Celtic Fans Must Guard Our Reputation, And Not Allow Others To Define Who We Are.

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Last night, I did a piece on the tactics Celtic should use after Thursday, and I opened it by talking about the brilliant political podcast The Bulwark. I remembered, when it was up, that I’d wanted to talk about that sometime last week, because of a moment that happened during one of their discussions on the insanity of the Joe Biden impeachment case.

The wonderful Sarah Longwell was appearing on the segment with Jonathan V. Last, the founder of the show, and Tim Miller, and she started talking about an attitude she comes up against time and time again when talking to Republican voters in her focus groups.

She describes it thus;

“Somebody kind of starts talking,” she says, “And they say ‘You know, the Republican Party has really changed …and I don’t know if I really consider myself a Republican anymore.’” And just as JVL and Miller think they know where this is going, she delivers the kicker, straight from the voter’s mouth. “’Because it’s just filled with RINOS that you can’t trust …”

And all three of them dissolved into laugher, and watching it so did I.

Because Miller and Longwell are the RINOS in question, and they’ve left the party because it is filled to the rafters now with the nutcases.

RINO is an in-house term amongst the lunatics; it means Republican In Name Only, and it’s not a new term. It was coined first well over thirty years ago, on the outer fringes of the party to describe members who were willing to endorse liberal opinions and find consensus across the aisle with the Democrats.

You know, normal, sane people. People who went into politics to make things better.

The thing is, the people using that term are now in the overwhelming majority. Instead of being on the fringes, they run the show. The lunatics have, actually, taken over the asylum and the people Longwell is talking about are so ignorant that they don’t even know that the Republican Party was once run by the people they view as the interlopers.

RINO was used in the 90’s, but it didn’t come to prominence until the Tea Party fringe started gaining ground in the party, and there was no greater slur they could confer upon their fellow Republicans than to sling that phrase at them.

A lot of people don’t realise that the kind of people who vote for Trump have been steadily gaining ground in Republican Party politics for at least two decades and that at every stage the bloodiest wars they have waged have been against those inside their own house.

The thing about the RINOS is this; a lot of them allowed themselves to be branded like that, and didn’t fight it. They cowered from it instead.

They allowed members on the extreme wing of their own party to brand them traitors for not being nuts, without responding forcefully to that claim. They could have stood their ground and responded aggressively and called these people out for their bigotry, their stupidity and their treason against party and country. Many of them were too scared to do it.

Worse still is that some of them did more than just suffer it in silence.

They actually moved from the centre towards those extreme flanks in order to quiet that criticism. In doing so, they joined the lunatics and they went on the hunt for RINOS like they had once been. They took part in the purge of the sane people.

They had allowed others to define them. They let others brand them with that mark, and allowed the people who put that mark on them to tell the world what they were and what they stood for. And that was not only moral cowardice, it was utter insanity.

Celtic fans must learn a lesson from their fate. Forces both outside Celtic and within our own walls would love to define us, and our club, to suit their own agendas and ideas, and we cannot, we must not, let them do that.

From the Israeli manager trying to brand us antisemites to those amongst the fan-base who want our club to adopt extreme political positions to those in the media and wider Scottish football who would love nothing more than to condemn us as “one side of the Old Firm coin” … there are plenty of them who think they can turn us into whatever best suits their point of view.

We built a sterling reputation as supporters. We won UEFA and FIFA awards. We did that by being pluralist, accepting, welcoming, respectful and friendly.

This is not a small thing.

We are club from Scotland, and even with our history, which is more like a fairytale than an origin story, we might have been largely forgotten in the era of the superclubs. But our global footprint is vast because we are a special support.

It was not support for one cause or our belief in one thing that made us that way. It was, in fact, our ability to embrace different cultures and different ideas, to be a “safe space” for people to express themselves, and as a result to spread the word about us.

There are some things that will never be acceptable within the aegis of our fan-base; antisemitism is one of them, which is what makes the charge so ridiculous.

We will never tolerate racists. We will not lock out people on account of their religious views or what political party they vote for … provided their views do not veer towards the extreme.

We are not, as the slogan says, literally “a club open to all” and we would never seek to be.

But that does not mean that we are the exclusive preserve of a select few, who believe themselves to be the sole keepers of the flame. We are a broad church. We are a family with different branches, from different backgrounds, and we are a strong club precisely because of that.

Not for us the rigid arrogant presumptions so prevalent across the city; their exceptionalism, their phony baloney patriotism tied up in institutions and militarism and war, but which doesn’t extend to having a shred of shame for their former club not paying its share to the state.

We do not have any equivalent of their “Britishness Days”. We do not fetishise symbols like the poppy, and brand as Lesser those who will not bow to an insular, narrow world view.

And mark my words, it weakens them that they behave this way, just as it weakens the Republican Party that it is in the hands of the maniacs.

Because something built on those foundations cannot last. It cannot, it will not, endure. Everything that exists in the public sphere requires renewal and growth, and you cannot renew and you cannot grow if you believe in “we are the Peepul” to the exclusion of all else.

Such people do exist inside our own walls and they always have.

I’ve been called a traitor to this club by fans of it who live on the extreme flanks because I dare to be critical of certain things; unlike the RINOS I am not willing to be tarred with that brush. My criticisms are the deepest expressions of my love for Celtic, because they all come from wanting us to be better, to do better and to aspire ever to be more.

And always, now and forever, we must be aware that some sections of our support would seek for us to be quasi-exclusive, to embrace exceptionalism, to stifle dissenting voices and to put up barricades of entry to those who do not fit their ideology.

We already know that the media continues to cast us in their own light, whether through ignorance or by design, as part of “the Old Firm”.

Some of them do it because they lack the imagination and the will to leave that dead term behind and treat our club as something separate from the one across the street.

Others know that the minute Ibrox does not have this final comfort blanket to hold on to that their relevance to the wider world shrinks with every day that passes. If they aren’t defined by that long-deceased rivalry then who are they, and what does define them?

Their hatred? Of what? Everything and anyone that isn’t them. See how long that lasts. See how long advertisers and sponsors want to be associated with it. See whether the next generation can be convinced to sign up and devote their lives to that.

Our greatness comes from our rejection of that. We are defined by who we are, not by who we are not, and that’s the mistake the RINOS made.

They allowed themselves to become defensive, to spend too much of their time telling the world about the things they did not stand for rather than aggressively promoting the things that they did believe in, and in doing so their entire institution is now defined by the things it rejects, the enemies it has and wants to make and the structures it wants to tear down.

That must never happen to us.

We must forever be vigilant, forever alert to those who would attempt to brand us with their mark. We must resist any and all efforts to do so, as we do against the “Old Firm” tag and against the charge that we are an antisemitic club.

Not in our name. Not whilst we stand. Not Celtic.

There is no “Celtic in name only.”

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  • John Duffy says:

    Great post James ,the term RINO unfortunately has been here for an age now (Rangers In Name Only] unfortunately they still have [very] thick skinned followers ,not their fans that’s a ancient inheritance which can never change ,but the modern day wage soup stealers ,I have a story about these which includes an old man who voices on a second rate radio programme at a leaving do which they a had treated him as a clown which we know he is , to give a clue it was Gerry McNees leaving do

    • James Forrest says:

      Haha a fantastic reply my man 🙂 Rangers In Name Only.

      I have to remember that 🙂

      • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

        Ha Ha – RINO = ‘Rangers’ in name only !

        I well remember a RINO destroying ‘Rangers’ in name only from the late 70’s until the late 80’s –

        Murdo ‘THE RINO’ McLeod !!!!

        Time after time after time he did it to ‘Rangers’ as they were correctly known as back then…

        I think that the piledriver that nearly burst the net in The 1982 League Cup Final at The ‘Toryglen’ end of Hampden in the pissin rain was probably ma favourite of all his goals. against The Sevco Huns !

  • brian cavanagh says:

    Great piece James

    We should be proud of our history and our roots – and to pursue a metophor -Celtic is not a sect by a mass movement that is pluralist and diverse and it was always thus. We could do with less of the ‘provo dissident chic’ from some our supporters and as Christy Moore said in North and South ‘ there are some songs that are not worth singing’


      Unfortunately the ‘ provo dissident chic ‘ has my father’s generation and his forebears to blame for it.

      I grew up with it being belted out at every family gathering I can recall.
      I was duly indoctrinated at about the age 12/13 when taken on the local Celtic Supporters bus , standing waiting for the local pub to empty, joined in with the communal singing on the bus and was then was ‘lifted up ‘ over the turnstiles of the old Celtic Park, ‘Paradise’, to stand with my DA’s mates, uncles and cousins all singing from the same ‘hymn sheet’ in the glorious ‘Jungle’.

      What fun we had, or so I thought.

      Education is the leveller. Catholic Senior Secondary where they taught Real history. Even back then there was a push back against the sanitised uber British Imperialism history. Scottish history to the fore. International affairs discussed, foreign language courses and the clincher, We joined the Common Market. We joined the Real World. Travel and social interconnections tend to change stereotypes and correct the fallacies of youth.

      In my days, early to late teens, the song sheet and the espousal of a largely erroneous Irish History, a blend of truth, myth making and a dismissal of uncomfortable facts was the de rigueur for the majority of the crowd. There is a cohort of that ‘Old School’ still active today but it is a small section. The Green Brigade to a certain extent take their cue from them as a justification of their ‘Right’ to sing what they will. It’s also unfortunate that they are also being manipulated by older people with a political agenda.

      From my perspective, the problem ‘hymn sheet’ is receding generation by generation. With a little encouragement it could be eradicated in a few years.

      And before the inevitable pile on. This is not a denial of our history. It’s a recognition that the people who survived the Easter Rebellion and Irish Civil War and the atrocities carried out more recently in the mini-statelet to west of us, have moved on. They are making a success of it and don’t feel the need to look back. They are looking forward and getting on with life. The Rebels won and a united Ireland is a certainty sometime soon. If any of us in the West of Scotland feel the need to reminisce then let’s do it in private where it would really mean something.

      The added bonus would be the denying of our partisan Scottish Medjia the ability to cast us with the other lot as
      ‘ Twaw cheeks o’ the same erse.’

  • JimBhoy says:

    Very good post. Trump getting the presidency will be a nuclear catastrophe.

  • Effarr says:

    I have to laugh at hating the Old Firm tag but doing nothing about it. If you hate something you get rid of it. And who better to give it to than someone who loves it.? It couldn`t be any
    more simple. The chance was there when the `We Are The Old Firm` was emblazoned across their stand but typical of the Celtic support they $4!T in the nest and let the chance pass.

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