Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Another ill-founded attack on writer Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

Gordon Dinnie's retort to Phil Mac Giolla Bháin's OpEd piece in the Belfast Telegraph contains several disingenuous remarks.
Regarding full disclosure I have published Phil’s last two books; ‘Downfall; How Rangers FC self-destructed’ (2012) and ‘Minority Reporter. Modern Scotland’s bad attitude towards her own Irish’ (2013).
That people of all colours and creeds are welcome at Ibrox is a welcome development - and a development it is, for it was not always so. Pointing out facts such as Rangers having previously operated a sectarian signing policy (admirably dispensed with in the 1980s - thus it existed for mere decades) is rarely welcomed.  Rangers (1872-2012) were also unique in not having a Republic of Ireland international in their first team in modern times. At this point, their fans were singing the racist ‘Famine Song’. Phil pointed out this inconvenient truth many times. Certainly, let the past be the past and not obsess about it.. And absolutely we must recognise the pretty dramatic improvements on the Ibrox terraces. But also, let's not forget the past completely either.
Forgetting that historical, racist and sectarian ethos is often difficult when one is around some fans of Rangers. By 'some' I don't mean a few stragglers from the past, but a sizable rump of Rangers supporters who sing racist and sectarian songs, hurl bigoted abuse, and whose default retort when annoyed by anything is citing the ethnicity or religion (real or imagined) of the object of their displeasure.
It’s in the DNA of a 'subsection' of Rangers people. This is obvious to everyone in Scotland and Northern Ireland unless they are among those who consider themselves some kind of self-appointed Praetorian Guard for what they see as "Rangers values". My decent law-abiding Glaswegian grandfather was a proud Rangers season ticket holder all his life and I know he never related to the sectarian bloodlust at all.
'Subsection' brings us to another of Mr Dinnie's disingenuous remarks, namely, Mac Giolla Bháin regularly describes these normal, law-abiding football fans as "the klan", "Herrenvolk" and "a fascist underclass".
This is not true. Mr Mac Giolla Bháin is clear that his target, when using such admittedly pejorative terms, is not the Rangers support as a whole. Indeed, he has made this point explicitly several times. He is, as he has often stated, referring to the unreconstructed bigots who rarely, if ever, admit to previous wrongdoing by their club, whether it be a racist/sectarian signing policy or arguably dodgy dealings from various high heid yins in the Ibrox boardroom. 
When some claim that Mr Mac Giolla Bháin is demeaning normal, law-abiding football fans it’s as if they are seeking to co-opt the decent Rangers support into a charge towards not just Mac Giolla Bháin but also towards anyone who dare utter obvious truths. Mac Giolla Bháin's target has never been normal decent law abiding people no matter who they support. His target, which is clear in any objective reading, is the nutty rump. Every club has a nutty rump. Celtic has a moronic, unreconstructed subsection too. Most big football clubs do. My own club Aberdeen has an atavistic element too. The difference with the old Rangers was that for decades this rump's views were encouraged - indeed institutionalised - by a signing policy and an all-pervading ethos. Happily, that changed and credit must be accorded appropriately.
Mr Mac Giolla Bháin was a lone pioneer in openly discussing the likely fate of the then Rangers, which other so-called 'proper journalists' refused to say out loud or to think even, for whatever reasons. It's ironic that many Rangers supporters groups belatedly hold Craig Whyte and Charles Green in bad esteem years after being warned by Mr Mac Giolla Bháin that they were not at all what they seemed.
Mr Mac Giolla Bháin represents the modern age and as such is held in disdain by some who long for the time before independent thought could reach the minds of thousands every day without being filtered. Reporters in many fields can become too cosy with their subjects and they do not want to jeopardise "access" or the "scoops" that promises.  Online journalists are independent and not beholden to vested interest. This is refreshing and it is why millions read such journalists every day all over the world.
It is worth noting that award-winning journalist Alex Thomson, of Channel 4 News, wrote the foreword to ‘Downfall’ in which he stated that the book was “a tale of our times brilliantly told”.
Mr Dinnie seems disdainful of the fact many well-read online journalists seek donations in order to sustain their work. In fact, he calls requests for donations begging. Every newspaper has a price and every newspaper is begging to be bought from a newsstand. So, what exactly is Mr Dinnie's point? Being paid by readers for your work directly is a bad thing?
Mr Dinnie talks of wild claims. Well, many would prefer to trust the judgement of the one journalist who got it right last time around.

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