Tag Archives: History

the past is Orange

I have no time for the Orange Order but banning its festival is not the right response
Published on 4 June 2015  The Herald Newspaper

Iain Macwhirter
Orangemen need a “clause four” moment to prove they’ve changed.

I remember my first experience of an Orange Walk. I was in a student flat in Edinburgh’s Leith when I was woken at some unearthly hour of the afternoon by loud banging. It sounded like someone was demolishing the tenement.

I craned out of the window to see curious folk with orange sashes and bowlers shouting offensive remarks about the Pope, throwing sticks in the air and hurling threats at residents waving the Irish Tricolour from their windows. The banging was from the Lambeg Drum, an instrument designed to resonate off tenement walls and instil fear.

I later learned that I was dossing in a supposedly Catholic area of town and this was one of many Orange walks. I’d had a sheltered atheist upbringing in which such things as religious sectarianism were unknowable. This was one aspect of 20th century working class culture that didn’t appeal.

The “walk” was more like an army of occupation, which is pretty much what the Orange Order is, or used to be, all about: it is about promoting and defending Protestant supremacy. The paramilitary standards, flutes and drums were primarily about intimidation.

Later when I was working for the BBC in the 1980s I frequently faced the Big Daddy of Protestant sectarianism: the annual July 12th celebrations of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, in which King Billy – William of Orange – overwhelmed the Catholic supporters of James V11th (James 11 in England).

I suppose this was celebrating community in one sense, but it mainly seemed to be about getting very drunk and trying to provoke fights. In fact I vividly remember seeing what could only be described as a riot in central Glasgow with broken heads and windows.

I was amazed that this didn’t dominate the evening news and the next day’s papers. I was advised by a BBC colleague that the broadcasters tended to underplay these events in the interest of public safety and not provoking further violence.

I don’t believe this was ever editorial policy in the BBC, but it seemed to me to be a form of self-censorship. It was as if Scotland just couldn’t face up to its sectarianism, which until pretty recently we frankly couldn’t.

And so we come to this weekend’s Orangefest, a celebration of the “history and culture” of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland which will take place in George Square with Glasgow Council’s blessing on Saturday.

The Order presents itself as an “ethnic minority” with a right to hold its own cultural celebration. Let’s hope other tribes don’t come to celebrate theirs.

We’re assured that breaking heads will not be part of Orangefest, but the big Lambeg drum will be. “Big Drums are part of our culture”, said Edward Hyde, Grand Master of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Glasgow on BBC radio yesterday. The Black Skull Corps of Fife and Drum will be there, along with face-painting and no doubt a bouncy Londonderry Castle.

Orangefest also allows the boys to hold an extra Orange walk this year through the centre of the city. Will there be songs that could be illegal if sung at a football ground?

There has been outrage at all of this. Yesterday alone 20,000 people signed a petition calling on the event to be disowned by the council and even banned. “The Klu Klux Klan wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate its culture in George Square” said one. “The Order is no more the voice of Protestantism than the Provisional IRA is the voice of Catholicism, or ISIS of Sunni Islam”, said a comment piece on Bella Caledonia.

The SNP opposition on Glasgow City Council don’t seem too happy either at giving civic reception to the Orangemen. Nationalists are still smarting from the events of September 19 last year, when Loyalists invaded George Square tearing up saltires and giving Nazi salutes to the Yes supporters.

And it’s true that the Orange Order is a sectarian organisation in that it doesn’t allow Catholics to join; not that I imagine they’d be queuing up so do to. But I’m not sure banning is the right response. If every organisation that insisted its members abide by its core beliefs were to be outlawed then we would be banning lots of religious organisations.

I loathe everything that the Orange Order has stood for in the past. But it claims that it is no longer a militant organisation and that it no longer seeks confrontation with Catholics. People will scoff at this, and perhaps with justification.

However, it is not all that long ago since the Church of Scotland itself was militantly anti-Catholic. In the 1920s, Kirk figures openly called Catholic immigrants “vermin” and “carriers of disease”. The Kirk is no longer a sectarian organisation, though it still expects its members to be Protestant.

Religious sects and far-right organisations like the Orange Order thrive on persecution. Denying them expression only strengthens them, lends mystique, even martyrdom. Putting them in the spotlight – like putting the former BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time – exposes them to ridicule and scrutiny. It shows us what they really are.

So I say: let the Orange Order hold their festival on Glasgow, provided it is peaceful. Police Scotland say that it is “low risk” and who am I to argue with that? Let’s see what it is about their culture that they really want to celebrate.

No doubt we will hear all about how Mozart was a freemason and how Dr Barnardo, of the children’s homes, was an Orangeman; and that King Billy was fighting against dynastic tyranny.

It’s true that William of Orange was, indeed, responsible for the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which led to the Bill of Rights, the end of absolutism and the foundation of our democratic constitution.

The Jacobite rebellions are still celebrated by some Scottish nationalists. Yet Bonny Prince Charlie was attempting to restore to the UK the Stuarts and reverse the achievements of 1688; at least that’s how many Lowland Scots like the philosopher David Hume saw it.

Somehow, I’m not sure this is quite the history that the Orange Order thinks it’s celebrating. But fair dos. Organisations can change. However, they need to make positive signs that they have reconciled themselves with their own sectarian past.

So here’s a challenge to the new, inclusive, non-sectarian Orange Order. How about a statement on Saturday that it would support repeal of the 1701 Act of Settlement that prevents a Catholic from acceding to the UK throne? Call it the Orangemen’s “clause four” moment.

What better way to show that the Order really is simply celebrating the positive aspects of Protestant culture and history, and not sectarian division?

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November 14, 2013 · 08:55

High School Text Book

High School Text Book Literally Re-writes History

Posted on July 31, 2013 in COLUMNSEDITOR’S PICKS

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History was my least favorite subject in school. I thought it was boring. I can’t understand or justify my stupidity, in hindsight, but I just remember being overwhelmed by dates and battles and failing to see the incredible way that history tends to repeat itself.

This week, a group of Floridian parents are flipping out at the contents of their teenagers’ Prentice Hall World History text books. The accusations they are raising are not some silly, baseless hysterical claims. They are completely legit and completely horrifying.

Before I tell you what is happening, I want to clarify that the reason this story horrifies me is not because of the bias that the book shows, but because of the way it has rewritten history and left out parts of the past.

If you look inside this book, being taught in high schools all over the country, you’ll notice several alarming things, as pointed out by Mr. Todd Starns on this news program.

    – There are 36 pages dedicated to the religion of Islam, while there are NO chapters dedicated to Christianity or Judaism.
    – In reference to Mohammed and his armies taking over Medina States, the book says, “…people happily accepted Islam as their way of life.”
    -The book indicates that Jesus “proclaimed” Himself to be the Messiah, yet stated as fact that Mohammed was a prophet.
    -In the book, Christian battles are called “Massacres” while Muslim battles are called “takeovers.”

Last I checked, Americans were free to choose their faith, but our country was undeniably founded on Judeo-Christian values. Whether you subscribe to Christianity or not, you can’t deny that its a rich part of our history. Look at our money! Having a 36-page chapter dedicated to Islam and only mentioning our nations core, founding values in an inaccurate, skewed way is a disgrace.

This particular book being investigated has been taught to high school students for three years already. It’s very scary to think that you can send your kids off to school, obliviously, while they are being taught absolute lies.

Read more: http://youngpatriots.com/2013/07/high-school-text-book-literally-re-writes-history/#ixzz2bTO5w2uR

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August 9, 2013 · 12:14

The General Strike

English: The Subsidised Mineowner - Poor Begga...

English: The Subsidised Mineowner – Poor Beggar!. It is referring to the UK General Strike of 1926 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trade unions opposed to public sector pension changes are threatening the biggest campaign of industrial action since the General Strike. But what happened during this benchmark strike in the 1920s, and just how big was it?

The strike was called by the TUC for one minute to midnight on 3 May, 1926.

For the previous two days, some one million coal miners had been locked out of their mines after a dispute with the owners who wanted them to work longer hours for less money.

In solidarity, huge numbers from other industries stayed off work, including bus, rail and dock workers, as well as people with printing, gas, electricity, building, iron, steel and chemical jobs.

The aim was to force the government to act to prevent mine owners reducing miners’ wages by 13% and increasing their shifts from seven to eight hours.

The industrial action came against a backdrop of tough economic times following the First World War and a growing fear of communism.

On the first full day of action, on 4 May, there were estimated to be between 1.5 and 1.75 million people out on strike.

 The transport network was crippled without its bus and train drivers, and roads became choked with cars.

The printing presses ground to a virtual halt and food deliveries were held up.

–ooOO00–

During all this turmoil and discontent, one Sunday, in his sermon, a minister asked a question from the pulpit.

minister

Decrying the General Strike, he boomed, “the miners are on strike, the tram drivers are on strike ,the train drivers and dock workers are on strike, the gas and electricity workers are on strike, the butchers and bakers and candlestick makers too…..”

….. BUT the Ministers are not on strike! And do you know why????

answer from a pew near the back:

Because if you were, nobody would miss you!”

–ooOOoo–

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Some years ago, in an old-fashioned railway carriage, a mother and daughter were sitting opposite a “dandy” who seemed to be preoccupied with preening himself and looking at his reflection in the window.

The little girl turned to her mum and asked “Mummy, what’s that man FOR?”

–ooOOoo–

What is a minister FOR?

The Ideal Minister

He loves the older folks of the church, visiting them regularly. Besides this, he spends all of his time with the young people. The glow on his face reveals his secret. He’s spent many hours on his knees before God. However, he’s always available to anyone who drops by for a friendly chat. What’s a half-hour out of his schedule since he only works on Sunday anyway.

He loves to disciple new converts and gives full-time attention to calling on the elderly, ill, and shut-in. He has a model family, is always in the church office when you call and is busy at the hospital, just looking for a soul to comfort. He would never miss a church function. In addition, he meets all his neighbours and civic leaders within the community and wins their hearts too.

The ideal minister is only 29 and has been preaching 30 years. He preaches sermons that win the hearts of the lost and inspire the minds of the mature. Teenagers take notes on his sermons.

The ideal minister comprehends the complexity of church finances, has mastery of the church budget, and never talks about money. He is a strong believer in holiness and church discipline and never speaks a stern word to anyone.

The ideal minister is tall, short, lean, and husky, with brown hair and blond hair. He has a deep, resonant voice which, because it is quietly loud, pleases everyone and is audible to the hard of hearing. He can sing, lead music, and delegates authority to everyone. Besides this, he helps each layman and does all the things other people are too busy to do. In short, he keeps the entire church and each family running smoothly.

(Modified  from Steve Merrill’s piece in The Evangelical Beacon, magazine of the Evangelical Free Church of America, copyright 1984)

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Vincent

Vincent

Vincent van Gogh was a devout Christian. He was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, and served briefly as a full-time clergyman. But for the most part Vincent van Gogh was not particularly denominational-minded. He had a strong love for all Christian churches.

He would have given an arm and a leg for the Church, but could manage only an ear

 

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April 14, 2013 · 07:58