In case the picture above hasn’t given you the clue, the shame I’m writing about today is religious bigotry. Now I know that many among you, especially those from the chattering classes, will protest immediately that bigotry in Scotland is a thing of the past, or at least contained to parts of the West of Scotland, only rearing its ugly head at the odd football match. It’s not. It’s as rife today throughout much of Scotland as it was hundreds of years ago. And if you don’t believe me, go and live with the hoi polloi, sit in their pubs, attend their football matches, and then see what you think.
If none of that convinces you, have a wee think about what will happen this and next weekend in a Scottish town or city near you. Now that’s where the picture really does give you the answer. It’s a photograph of a typical Orange Walk taken back when I was a laddie. Fifty years later, exactly the same ceremony will be held across a so-called modernised, enlightened Scotland.
Those members of the Orange Order who organise the annual Walk through their local Lodges will have you believe that all they are doing is celebrating an historical event – one that took place on another country’s soil more than 300 years ago, by the way. (Look up 1690 in Ireland on Wikipedia if you don’t know the history.) That’s not the case, folks. The Walk has but one purpose – it has only ever had one purpose – and that is to intimidate the Roman Catholic community, to cow it into submission.
The Orange Order represents the public face of Scotland’s Shame. But there are other, less overt, parts of the apparatus of religious hatred. They’re called Masonic Lodges, those unassuming, grey, windowless buildings in which secret Freemasonry rites take place. If you think the Lodges are there for some kind of benign business fraternity, think again. They’re as anti-Catholic as Orange Lodges, only much more sleekit with it.
And if you think Freemasonry is an archaic institution that’ll fade away in time, think again as well. Only last summer, I went for a haircut in a small town in the Highlands. The barber was a thirtysomething man originally from Coatbridge. He didn’t know me from Adam, but he still attempted to give me that secret wee handshake of the Masons. I should have punched him. Instead I went home and washed my hand several times to rid it of his clammy touch. (I did tell him prior to the botched handshake that my name was Brendan, by the way, so he wasn’t a very clever Mason, but there you go, that’s young bigots for you.)
If you’re interested in reading more, The Burrymen War is FREE to download from Amazon all this weekend. Then next time you see the men in bowler hats and dark suits and orange collarettes, and you hear the sounds of flutes and snare drums and bass drums, all belting out the rousing tune of The Sash My Father Wore, you’ll perhaps agree that Scotland’s Shame should feature prominently in the Scottish Independence debate.