Thursday, 1 August 2013

Mo Bangura and the man who never was

During World War 2 as the Allies were preparing to invade Sicily they needed a scheme to get some of the German forces out of the areas around the invasion beaches. They came up with operation ‘Mincemeat’ which involved dressing a body as a British Officer and handcuffing a briefcase to his wrist containing bogus plans for an invasion of Greece. The body was dumped at sea off the coast of fascist Spain where the Germans or their supporters could find it. In due time the Germans did indeed find it and thinking the Allies were going to invade Greece moved significant forces there. It was a text book example of propaganda and black ops and was celebrated in the movie ‘The man who never was.’

Very interesting, I hear you say, but what exactly has this to do with football? Well over the past couple of weeks we have seen attempts to blacken the name of the Celtic Support by cowards who hide behind the so called anonymity of the internet. Last month we had some disgraceful and morally bankrupt person spread an unfounded rumour online which alleged Celtic supporters sang a distasteful song about murdered Soldier Lee Rigby. No evidence of this scurrilous claim has ever been forthcoming but nonetheless twitter’s court of public opinion had our fans tried, convicted and found guilty. I noted fans from Sevco, (no surprises there), Sheffield Wednesday, Chelsea, Liverpool and six or seven other clubs condemn Celtic fans on nothing but a wicked lie. I was reminded of the  Philosopher Bertrand Russell who asked…

‘Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it stirs up friendly feeling?’

Of course it is successful if people want to accept the lie as truth as it somehow legitimises their own prejudice or dislike. As with the ludicrous misreading of the ‘Achill Island CSC’ Banner at the Cup final, which miraculously morphed in the minds of those with an anti-Celtic bias into ‘Achill Islam CSC’ we see that people seeking to legitimise their own prejudice will swallow the lie more easily. Indeed, such propaganda does not really deceive people, rather it helps them deceive themselves. Yet again more internet condemnation came the way of Celtic and their fans based on a myopic and probably deliberate misreading of an inoffensive banner.

Last night Mo Bangura turned out for Elfsborg at Celtic Park. It was predictable that he’d get some stick from a section of the home crowd as he is still a Celtic player and they had asked him to consider not playing against the club which pay him a lot of money.  As the game progressed, a clearly hyped up Bangura clattered into challenges and at one point feigned injury in an attempt to have a Celtic defender sent off. Make no bones about it, if the referee thought Wilson had hit him the Wilson would have been red carded. This blatant ‘simulation’ infuriated many of the home crowd who rightly asked why a Celtic player was cheating in a game against what is still his own club! Bangura then received more jeers from sections of the home support. Not appreciated by most of the support but understandable. Today much to the astonishment of the Twitter Celtic family we saw a new account emerge called ‘@CelticRacial’ which claimed that some of the abuse Bangura received was racial in nature. Not one Celtic fan who was at the game has come forward to support this claim and the account was suspended by Twitter within a few hours of its opening. The Trolls were at work again. ‘Throw enough mud and some of it will stick’ seems to be their motto. Of course all big clubs have their share of idiots following them, and Celtic are no different, but it takes a pretty low level of morality to spread deliberate and unfounded lies about innocent people in this manner. Football rivalries can be fierce but some things are just plain wicked.

Of course we in the Celtic family are well aware of the use of propaganda and lies by those who hate the club. We have seen it over the years in the pages of agenda ridden tabloids. We hear it on poor quality Radio phone in shows which happily promote the lie that Rangers never died. Whole websites are dedicated to spreading negativity about Celtic. No attempt is made to assess the veracity of the stories they pass off as ‘truth.’ No balance is sought and no mention made of the long list of shameful episodes involving fans of the now defunct Oldco. As long as the lies help legitimise their hatred, they spread it and the unthinking swallow it.  No depths are too low for the mud-slingers. They will rant about paedophilia, terrorism, foul songs and hooliganism with no real basis for their ire. What matters to them is that they cause dissention, ill feeling and confusion. That, at the end of the day, is the purpose of propaganda.

What is to be done about the mud-slinging haters out there?  Firstly, always look for verifiable, impartial confirmation of their claims. Most lies are easily exposed at the first stage. Secondly don’t swallow it and retweet or pass on the lies. In doing so you unwittingly help spread it like the virus it is. Lastly just use your judgement and ask as the Romans did when they heard any interesting news…’Cui Bono?’ Who gains from this? Usually it is those who hate Celtic or their supporters.  Above all think for yourself and be discriminating in what you choose to believe. The internet is a wonderful environment full of information and knowledge but, like all aspects of modern life, it has its share of low types who think nothing of spreading lies and disinformation. Indeed, the only thing more frustrating than liars and deceivers are those foolish enough to believe them.

If you want to see a more overt form of propaganda which truly is racist don’t waste your time looking for the lies told about  Celtic fans and Mo Bangura. Look instead at the cartoon below. It may surprise you to learn that it wasn’t drawn in the 19th Century but appeared in a British newspaper in the 1980s. It totally exonerates British responsibility for any crimes in Ireland and passes it all off as the fault of the ‘Psycho Irish.’ That  is propaganda in its purest form and sadly some are so foolish they still fall for such nonsense.



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