|The standard of
writing in Press is plumbing new depths all the time but trust The
Observer to take a quantum leap downwards.
Taking inspiration from a prize
prat of Martin Amis, Henry McDonald seeks to draw an analogy
between Loyalist Terrorist and Millwall Hooligans. Why pick on
Millwall along with Chelsea, rather than Chelsea alone or even
Rangers whose thugs do indeed cultivate links with Loyalist
The answer of course is the old
chestnut of the writer not being intelligent enough to understand
the meaning of the chant "No one likes us, we don't
care" Its a chant that does not contain any threats, swear
words or racist language. It is not an expression of hatred of
others, rather that we recognise that outsiders have little love
for us and take every opportunity to sneer at us and have a pop,
however we have grown a thick skin and adpoted a siege mentality
to cope with this barrage and shrug off the more ignorant
Perhaps Henry is ignorant of the
number of Postmen or Catholics who follow Millwall who will find
the following article highly offensive.
Hannibal the loyalist
Why serial killers, football hooligans and UDA thugs are all alike
Henry McDonald Sunday January 20, 2002 The Observer
Amis detects something in common between the serial killer and the
football thug. In his collection of essays and reviews, The War
Against Cliché , Amis notes the strikingly similar qualities
between the mass murderer and the English hooligan. He contends
that the two share 'sociopathy, delirium, motivelessness, and an
utter dedication to the ugly'. Any if not all of these words could
equally apply today to those at the hard edge extremes of Ulster
loyalism. Take for a start 'sociopathy'. The disdain which
elements of the UDA demonstrate towards the outside world, their
paranoid attitude to the mass media, their nihilistic indifference
to their image-problem all resemble the loathing the thug and the
serial killer have for humanity.
Those behind the recent threats
to public service workers and the murder of Daniel McColgan
exhibit a 'Millwall' attitude to the rest of us - no one likes
them and they don't care. Their hatred for the 'other' out there,
their eternal hunt for enemies in every corner supersedes any
concern about the PR disasters such activities (leaving aside for
one moment the base immorality of their actions) inflict upon the
wide unionist/Protestant community.
As for 'delirium' the
rejectionist loyalists are gripped by two dangerous delusions:
firstly, that the Agreement is a conspiratorial piece-by-piece
process (devised in the Vatican, the White House and Iveagh House)
leading to a United Ireland; secondly, that a return to past
tactics such as ethnic cleansing, general strikes and the mass
terrorisation of the Catholic population will somehow bring about
the restoration of Protestant supremacy.
In terms of motive (or the lack
of it) trying to rationalise what propelled someone to threaten
teachers, postal workers or firemen, or to work out how Daniel
McColgan's murder could in any way advance the unionist cause
seems utterly pointless. Linking the hooligan with the serial
killer, Amis quotes Bill Buford's book on the former, Among The
'He (Buford) began the book
because he "wanted to know why young males in England were
rioting every Saturday". Answer: because they like it.'
Strip away all those Red Hands,
crowns, Cuchalains, maps of Northern Ireland, flags, guns and
balaclavas and you are left with a baseless motive: 'We hate them
(Taigs) because we enjoy it. We know no more.'
And finally there is the sheer
ugliness, the repulsive coarseness of the imagery associated with
hard-line loyalism. In the early to mid 1990s loyalism tried to
nurture a radically different public persona.
was the articulate, well-turned-out, moderate-sounding David
Ervine armed with his pipe and Lech Walesa moustache who embodied
what was then fashionably known as 'new unionism'. Loyalists back
then 'cared' about what the rest of the world thought of them.
Since then, in terms of global
perception, they have been supplanted by the shaven heads, the
earrings, the baseball hats, the rippling muscles, the Alsatian
dog with the T-shirt wrapped around its body - the icons of
unthinking menace. Both Amis and Buford would recognise this face
of self-destructive nihilism, noting that it could easily be found
at Millwall's Den or Chelsea's Shed.
It would of course be deeply
unfair to pour the entire unionist community into this moronic
mould, to stereotype the entire alienated loyalist working class.
Many loyalists were disgusted and dismayed over the actions of the
bigoted boneheads who smashed up teachers car's in Ballysillan,
issued death threats to Royal Mail staff and finally slaughtered
Moreover, thousands of
Protestant workers joined their Catholic colleagues at Friday's
protest allies against sectarian intimidation. These men and women
- particularly the courageous postal workers who were the vanguard
of the mass demonstrations - represent the decent core of Northern
society, the broad centre that acts as a buffer against those
forces seeking to drag us back to incipient civil war.
None the less the entire
unionist community has a problem on its hands which its political
leaders until now have either ignored or in the case of certain
anti-Agreement elements have sought to exploit. A sub-culture of
criminality coupled with a new ferocious band of sectarianism has
paralysed working-class Protestant communities. It has bred an
underclass of educational under achievers, drug dealers and pipe
bombers that were still in nappies when the terrorist campaigns
were grinding inexorably to a halt in the early 1990s.
Governments can only do a
certain amount to cure this malaise; throwing money at areas is
not enough. Until the decent core within the Protestant community,
especially its workers, stand up against the 'sociopathy,
delirium, motivelessness, and the utter dedication to the ugly,'
then this self-destructive retreat into extremism will continue.
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