Sunday, 21 July 2013

Tell me lies

In January 1943 as Hitler’s 6th Army froze in the ruins of Stalingrad and the scales of World War 2 were about to tip irrevocably towards the Allies, a football match took place about 2000km to the west. A crowd of 30,000 turned up to see Rangers play Celtic  on that cold Ne’rday and witnessed a match of fierceness and farce. Celtic were in the doldrums and not taking the unofficial war time league too seriously but the men who wore the hoops that cold day were incensed at the refereeing of the match. Three of them were sent off for protesting at decisions as Rangers won 8-1. The game is relatively unimportant as it was unofficial but what is important are the lies which some modern Rangers fans spread to this day about the game. I first discovered the lie on a Rangers website which claimed that Celtic fans sang pro German songs at this game. Some Rangers sites suggest this happened at a game in September 1941, which demonstrates that they are just passing on rumour without checking the facts. While doing some Uni work, I took the opportunity to scan the reports of three newspapers in the Mitchel Library on these fixtures and none mentions pro German songs. Are we seriously being asked to believe that Celtic fans with family in the forces fighting the Germans were learning ‘Deutschsland Uber Alles’ to sing at a football game? Ludicrous as it is this is what some Rangers fans still claim.

We in the Celtic family are well used to the rough edged banter which goes on with our friends across the city but there remains in our society a hard core of people who hate Celtic with a vengeance and will stoop pretty low to throw mud at the club. From outright lies like the disgusting ‘Lee Rigby’ (RIP) story yesterday to the usual vile paedophile chants. In a way we expect this from the less intelligent sections of the Sevco support but what’s more shocking is that some of the ‘newspapers’ in our country are equally guilty of such anti Celtic reporting. In 1998 a picture of Paul Lambert appeared on the back of the Sunday Mail showing a happy Celt celebrating winning the title. He is holding a Celtic scarf on which had been ‘photo-shopped’ an extreme Irish Republican image. It stuck out like a sore thumb because it was so poorly and clumsily executed. Who would do this at a newspaper and why? Today we see the Sun print an online story about the burning of a bus used by the Newco. Throughout the story and with no obvious accompanying text are pictures of Celtic fans on the pitch at Brentford. Is this some poor attempt to prove guilt by association? Hopefully Celtic FC will pull that most morally bankrupt of ‘news’ papers up about this.

This willingness to lie about the Celtic support is part of the mud-slinging mentality which thinks if you throw enough mud some of it will stick. Whole websites are dedicated to finding negative stories about Celtic and their fans. Like all big clubs we have our share of idiots among the support but the propaganda spouted against Celtic and their fans can be truly laughable at times. Of course all football rivals bad mouth each other, generalise about and stereotype their rivals. However, the lies, distortions and half-truths used in attempts to discredit and damage Celtic are taken to new levels by those who hate the club. Over the years I have read or heard the following claims made about Celtic and their fans:

 All Celtic fans are IRA lovers

Celtic is a paedophile network

Celtic introduced Sectarianism to Scotland

Celtic fans had a banner with ‘Islam CSC’ on it

People collect money for terrorists at Celtic games

 I could go on but you get the picture. There are those in our society who despise everything they imagine Celtic is about. The anti-Irish/Catholic prejudice which still lingers in some dark corners helps feed the lies and half-truths. Others, with a dislike of Celtic, are quick to jump on any lie no matter how outrageous and spread it as if it were true. The mind-set which wants to believe the worst about Celtic is already half way to accepting the lie. Modern communication has been transformed by the internet and this makes the dissemination of lies as simple as clicking a mouse. We saw the Twitter wild fire over the alleged singing of songs about Lee Rigby. (RIP) It became boring reading message after message demanding proof because as most of us suspected none existed as it never happened. What was  disturbing though, was the willingness of some unthinking people to accept it as true without any proof and to tweet about it.   As Churchill said, ‘A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth has its pants on!'

It has been said that one of the problems of the modern world is that many people do not approach the media looking for the truth, They approach it looking to have beliefs they already hold validated. George Orwell, of course wrote 70 years ago about the need for journalism to seek the truth when he said, ‘Journalism is printing what someone doesn’t want to hear. Everything else is public relations.’ We saw a massive PR campaign when Rangers collapsed and were liquidated. The half-truths, lies and propaganda had those of us with critical faculties sitting up and taking notice. It was a lesson in how the media works for and was manipulated by vested interests. Somewhere among obfuscation the truth struggled to be heard. The point of today’s blog is to ask all of you kind enough to read it to think for yourselves.  It is only by being sceptical and developing our critical faculties that we begin to see through the lies and insinuations thrown about with such ease by those who hate Celtic. The world has changed so much since Hitler’s Army froze in Stalingrad back in 1943 but even Adolf knew that in any war, truth is usually the first casualty.

RIP Lee Rigby


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