Lost in translation
I read last night’s statement from the Celtic Trust and have to say I was somewhat puzzled. It’s worth reproducing it here so you can judge for yourself the veracity of its contents. It stated…
‘’Following the disgraceful remarks made by Ian Bankier, Chairman of Celtic PLC to the Celtic PLC AGM on Friday 20th November, the undersigned organisations feel it necessary to express our anger at these allegations.
Mr Bankier's claim that fans opposed to the re-election of Mr Livingston to the Celtic board have engaged in 'criminally racist' social media postings is an unforgivable slur on the Celtic support. For him to then evoke the name of Brother Walfrid to justify his unfounded assertion is utterly shameful. We are now, since the AGM took place, aware that there were some postings on social media which we condemn and we would support the club, and Mr Livingston, should they take action against those individuals. None of this is a justification for the generalised smearing of the Celtic support and, in particular, those of us who voted against Mr Livingston’s re-election. Mr Bankier committed an error of judgement and showed a complete lack of control at the AGM and this is not acceptable in a Celtic Chairman.
We would like to publically condemn his unprofessional behaviour and the subsequent attempts to suggest that his words had been taken out of context, as this patently was not the case. We call on all other members of the PLC board to denounce these comments. Ultimately, we are of the belief that Mr Bankier is no longer able to redeem himself following this attack on the Celtic support, and his failure to retract and apologise immediately afterwards, and we call on him to give serious consideration to his position as Chairman of Celtic PLC.’’
This strongly worded statement is seriously flawed. Firstly Ian Bankier didn’t say that all Celtic supporters opposed to Ian Livingston’s reappointment ‘have engaged in 'criminally racist' social media postings’ as the statement implies. He was clearly referring to the minority who overstepped the mark and used bigoted language to describe Mr Livingston. Who could possibly deny that statements from social media such as the following are anything other than morally repugnant and against everything Celtic stands for...
‘’Get this Ashkenazi cunt out of OUR club and take that other fake Jew prick Biton with him. This is typical of their sort, infiltrating and destroying every country and establisment from within"’
‘We need to rid our club of this Zionist cancer immediately. The thought of a dirty Zionist fucker being in charge of our club is very alarming."
I could find more statements like those on Facebook or Twitter but those two sentences serve to illustrate the point that some went too far in their criticism of Mr Livingston and strayed into territory which could be construed by a Judge as ‘criminally racist.’ So if we agree that some who claim to follow Celtic have been guilty of such utterances, and it really is beyond doubt as even the Celtic Trust admit, then where does that leave Mr Bankier? Well, firstly his actual words at the AGM were as follows…
‘(Mr Livingston) has been subject to a torrent of utterly base personal abuse conducted over social media over recent weeks. The messages posted, in quite a few cases are criminally racist and in all cases the vocabulary chosen is base and highly abusive and what sickens me to the core is that the campaign is conducted in the name of (Celtic founder) Brother Walfrid.’
It’s clear to me that the ‘all cases’ he refers to in this statement are the people who have brought forth this ‘torrent of utterly base personal abuse’ and no one else. To extrapolate from the above sentence that he meant all fans opposed to Ian Livingston’s reappointment is at best disingenuous and at worst mischief making. If that wasn’t clear enough Mr Bankier then stated on Celtic’s website…
‘I have not branded our supporters racist and it is outrageous to suggest that I would ever do that. I was only referring to a small number of specific comments which have been made on social media, which I believe are unacceptable, I know Celtic fans would agree with me.’
Despite Mr Bankier releasing this statement the scorn of some on social media was poured down on his head. He was advised to ‘go’ by some and take Mr Livingston with him. The statement from the Celtic Trust followed and I must confess to scratching my head as to what he had actually said which deserved the strong words flying his way. If his AGM statement wasn’t clear to some, his follow up statement certainly was. Are those who wrote the Celtic Trust statement actually suggesting that Ian Bankier is lying? Hundreds of shareholders and media types witnessed his statement at Celtic Park and it was no doubt recorded too. He condemned foul abuse which certainly deserved the harshest condemnation. To suggest he condemned all who opposed the re-appointment of Mr Livingston to the Board is not only wrong but it is demonstrably wrong.
You would think by the whole tone of the Celtic Trust statement with its language of condemnation (slur, unforgivable, shameful, smearing, etc.) that Bankier had committed a very public offence of great importance. A closer examination of the facts shows nothing of the sort. Things have either been lost in translation or those making the accusations against him are doing so for their own purposes. Either way this whole mess offers nothing but mud for those with a dislike of Celtic to throw in the club’s face.
No doubt I’ll need to dig out the tin hat when some read this and accuse me of taking sides or being in the Board’s pocket and other such nonsense. So what I suggest you do is check the facts for yourself, read the reports of the AGM and contrast them to the ludicrous version of events portrayed in the Celtic Trust statement. I offer only one man’s opinion based on the facts as I perceive them. You’re perfectly entitled to verify things for yourself and I hope you do. Too many are prepared to believe the worst without checking the facts. If you’re going to accuse someone of ‘generalised smearing’ of the Celtic support you’d best have more evidence than I’ve seen so far.