Why Celtic Fans Will Never Need To Ask Themselves, “Are We The Baddies?”

There are times when I wonder if I really am a liberal. Let me explain.

Over the last few years, I have launched invasions. I have massacred civilians. I have dropped tons of high explosives on armies and cities. I have enslaved people. I have sold slaves. I have condemned tens of thousands to die in purges and pogroms. I have started religious wars. I have assassinated more people than I can count, and haven’t been particularly concerned about “collateral damage” in order to get the job done. I have built drug empires. I have used chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons. I have been a criminal, a sadist and a tyrant.

And throughout it all, I have smiled and had fun.

I’m a gamer in my spare time, and I particularly enjoy strategy titles, and it is in the guise of armchair general that I have committed the most heinous acts.

I am a leftist to my bones, but buried deep in me there has to be a dictator itching to take the reigns, or I would not take such pleasure in the vast amounts of power I have amassed, and the death and destruction I have wrought in order to expand and consolidate it.

Last night, I was doing the piece on David Tanner and I started to talk about Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984. Yes, again. I love that book, and last night a particular analogy came to mind when I was talking about Celtic leaving the Ibrox club behind.

I wrote it and then removed it. It didn’t fit the tone.

But I liked the visual, I like the idea, and at that point I realised that I wanted to build an article around it … it was only after I’d thought about it a while that I realised that there was a much wider subject matter to cover.

And it’s this; if you are on top in a situation, how much gloating do you have to do before it becomes taunting? How much enjoyment and pleasure can you take in victory without it transforming into arrogance? Can you be top for a long period of time without becoming, in some way, egotistically driven and supremacist in your outlook?

Let me cut right to the chase; in our satisfaction and in this moment of victory, is there a chance, however distant it seems, that we end up becoming like them?

Nobody at Ibrox ever asks themselves “are we the baddies?” Indeed, I saw one of them describe his club as “the good guys” the other day … it’s crazy to me. But I suppose when you are on the inside looking out the view is very different from being on the outside looking in. That’s why I think we have to ask ourselves this question, and be honest about the answer.

We have a chance, this summer, to leave their club miles behind. I want very badly for us to do that. I do not believe that it is wrong to want that. I’ve grown up in this city, you see, surrounded by their lunacy and their bigotry and every year we have to tolerate their sectarian marches and everything else that goes with it. I do not hate them except in that they hate me. To quote Liam Neeson in Michael Collins, “I hate them for making hate necessary.”

This summer’s opportunity should not be wasted, as so many of them have been before. If our board had genuinely seized the moment, we’d have presented them with a vision like the one O’Brien offers Winston Smith in 1984; “Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face. Forever.”

And although I think I’m a good person I want the football equivalent of that. I want their fans to continue to suffer, I want their torment to go on and on and on.

Last night as I was questioning my motives, one vision returned to me over and over again; the Gimp Patrol at the weekend, those blue clad masked neds, looking like the beneficiaries of a ram-raid at Dirty Barry’s, marching down the Gallowgate in a pathetic “show of force” which was rendered wholly ridiculous, even without the weird outfits, by their doing it at ten in the morning when there was not a soul about. It was nothing but a stunt, but it is telling that they set out to intimidate those who were in the area, and the footage of them in Candleriggs is genuinely appalling.

Why should I feel bad at wallowing in their suffering? I thought of those clowns at full time; all dressed up and no party to go to. I was laughing at the time.

Their suffering is one of my favourite forms of entertainment. No torment we inflict on them is too much. I want every single one of the Gimp Patrol to grow up seeing nothing but Celtic racking up trophies and titles. Maybe they’ll refrain from inflicting that suffering on their own kids.

Understand this; we are not talking here about us putting them out of business. There are those who claim that they exist only because our board wants them to, and that we see some advantage to having them around. It’s not true. It’s Scottish football itself which believes that it needs a club called Rangers playing in it, and as long as Scottish football cannot separate itself from that idea there always will be a club with that name in the ranks of the game.

Besides, whilst another administration is always possible, the craziness which led them to the grave is now virtually impossible for two reasons.

First, they have no debts to third parties like banks or financial institutions which they would need to settle in the event of a disaster, and they will never have those debts because their inability to stop going over budget means nobody will ever lend them money in the first place.

Secondly, there is nothing looming like the Big Tax Case which could push them off the cliff. We aren’t keeping them alive. They are capable of meeting their obligations to creditors and debtors and even this £10 million settlement with Elite won’t change that.

What we can control, what we can influence, is what state they exist in, and if we are ruthless about it we can condemn them to interminable torment and pain in our shadow.

I used to want them out of business.

Now, in hindsight, I think I prefer it this way, watching them undergo the Death of A Thousand Cuts. Remember that in 1984 the Party has no interest in eliminating its enemies. If it did, it wouldn’t create them, as O’Brien makes it clear they do. The Party exists to exercise power, and O’Brien is explicit in telling Winston that power is about inflicting suffering, and if you’re going to do that there must be someone there to inflict it on.

“Are we the baddies?” It’s a valid question.

It’s a necessary question as we get stronger and they get weaker, and it’s especially so as they would look at us and answer yes, definitively, and without hesitation. They do believe it. They think that the evidence of it lies back in 2012, and this is another reason why I feel not one iota of sympathy for them or doubt that our cause is right.

Were they capable of introspection they might see that they did that to themselves and that in their continuing effort to apportion blame they have caused untold trouble.

Mostly to their new club, because, as I’ve put it before, when you live in a fantasy you always have to worry about dragons. In their minds, they created this monster, this conspiracy, this “the whole world hates us” idea .. and because that idea is so all-encompassing and because the enemy they perceive is so strong, they don’t have the first clue how to fight it.

And so they rant. And they rave. And they rage.

What I mean is that it’s hard enough to kill something real … but trying to get over a hurt than never happened, trying to move on from an injury you never sustained, trying to recover from persecution that only exists in your mind … that’s impossible because something that starts in your head can’t be changed anywhere else, and you have to want to and so much of their identity now is tied to their hate and their bitterness, and their sense of victimhood.

And since you can’t get over it, the only recourse left to you is to come to your senses and snap out of the insanity, and if they were capable of that they wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

Think for a minute about what it would take. It would require that they recognise the Lies for what they are, and openly acknowledge that.

Tear down the Victim Lie and that, in short order, topples the Survival Lie, which is why they can’t do it … the mental leap that would take is beyond them.

It’s probably beyond most people, which is why I warn folk regularly about getting caught in the trap of conspiracy theories and “alternative facts.”

Once you start building your life within those walls and seeing the world out of those windows, you’re only encouraged to bunker and once you do that it takes an almost superhuman effort to escape.

A few years back, I did a piece on how a lot of their supporters had descended towards extremism in their cultural and political views; I stand by that claim, and think that they more and more resemble the Trumpers in their embrace of craziness and their retreat from facts.

As he has his “stolen election” they have the 2012 Victim Lie.

As he won’t acknowledge Biden’s victory, so they won’t acknowledge the liquidation, or whose fault it was.

And as he had his 6 January rioters, they have the Gimp Patrol and those black clad goons who were hovering about Govan.

See, when you build a culture around hatred and lies that will draw the crazies like a turd draws flies and those crazies will want to do crazy things as they become increasingly aggressive and militant. As they make that descent, I believe it becomes more and more necessary to beat them on the park, to strip away their sense of superiority, to reduce them to a scampering thing which lives in our shadow.

Rendering the Lies redundant by overtaking them in the trophy count is a service to Scottish football and to Scottish society. Challenging the Lies has not worked. Perhaps erasing the need for them in the first place will have some positive benefit, but even if it doesn’t, it is impossible to spend any significant time on their forums and to experience the warped views and irrational hatreds in them and come away believing that we’re the same as they are.

I think there is a danger in us becoming complacent.

I wrote this the other day, that looking at the way their “rebuild” has begun makes me nervous, not because it is particularly startling or brilliant or scary but because it might change the mood in our own house to one where we don’t have to strive particularly hard or work particularly aggressively to win the next title … that does more than just allow them another opportunity to catch us, it sells us short and stops us from being all that we can be.

It stands to reason that as we continue to rise that they continue to slide, and that risks creating some genuine disincentives for us to be radical in how we approach the rebuilds this summer and, in the future, and I do worry about that especially from a board which has no history at all in reaching for the next rung of the ladder.

If they did, we’d not need to have the conversation because we’d have left them behind like something discarded in a motorway layby ages ago.

As to the central question, “are we the baddies?” or are we in any danger of becoming the baddies, a club which wins everything and looks down its nose at the rest, and which lords it over a hapless and powerless opponent … I have to conclude that the answer to the first part is no and that the possibility of the second is so remote as to be ridiculous.

We are a club founded on a charitable basis to feed the poor.

Something would have to go very, very badly, wrong for us to break bad.

We have an identity and all of us have grown up embracing it and being proud of it and that makes us open and tolerant and outward looking. Sure, our enemies might try to characterise us in various despicable ways, with the latest charge that we are antisemites, but nobody who knows the first thing about us believes that or any of the other slanders which have been offered against us.

Most important, I think, is that we know it and we will not tolerate the charges, and nor would we tolerate anyone who sought to move us in their general direction, and that includes that handful of our own fans who might be inclined to live up to the accusations.

For me, I can sleep soundly at night.

In my downtime, I may be a tyrant and some would even call me a monster but here in the real world I know whose side I’m on and where I fall on the ethical compass.

Whilst I do want to lord it over a beaten foe and I do want us to put that boot on the Ibrox face I only have to think of the Gimp Patrol and those who spend every week up to their knees in fenian blood to recognise that I am justified in feeling that way, that they are the ones who won’t let this be just a football rivalry and that there is an ocean separating them from my morality.

So wanting that is not something for which I, or any one of us, ever needs to be ashamed.

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