Over the past couple of weeks the issue of trolling within the independence campaign has been done to death. Articles have been written, including on this blog, letters have been published, fingers have been pointed, and allegations and counter-allegations have been lobbed about like diarrhoea filled balloons. Which is a trollish way to describe some of the Unionist commentary on this issue, but there you go. The Unionists have been looking upon the entire episode with a gleeful and deeply hypocritical joy.
It took the Sunday Herald yesterday to highlight the fact that bad online behaviour, name-calling, and abuse is by no means limited to the independence campaign. Trolling and abuse is so common within the online Unionist campaign that it has been become normalised. Insults and abuse hurled by Unionists at independence supporters is so everyday, so expected, and so predictable that Unionism no longer regards it as abusive. The comments section of the Scotsman is a poisonous pit of Unionist abuse.
We see Unionists howl in outrage when they are called quislings or traitors by online supporters of independence, but Unionists seem to have no compunction at all in likening independence supporters to Nazis. Just today in the Scottish Daily Mail, Unionist journalist Stephen Daisley likens the entire independence movement to the Nazis at Charlottesville. He took exception to a couple of instances of what he perceived to be anti-English sentiments, and uses them to characterise the independence movement as a whole. Nationalism is always nasty, apparently, except British nationalism, which isn’t nationalist at all.
When you call a perfectly peaceful, social democratic person who believes in equality, social justice, and who is opposed to racism, sexism, and homophobia a Nazi, that’s abuse. It’s hyperbolic. It’s insulting, both to the person who is called a Nazi and to the real victims and survivors of Nazism. But even high profile Unionist politicians seen to have no problem with likening supporters of the independence movement to the extreme right. Sadiq Khan infamously likened independence supporters to “those who will divide us on the grounds of race or religion”. That kind of behaviour and language justifies, supports, and encourages online abuse by Unionists.
I myself have been called a Nazi. I’ve been called a blood and soil nationalist more times than I can remember. One particularly frothy Unionist even took the time and trouble to write a blog article in which he claimed that this blog is exactly the same in principle to radio broadcasts during the Rwandan genocide calling on Hutu people to take machetes to their Tutsi neighbours. And the reason for this hyperbolic ire in which all sense of proportion and reason had long since been cast to the wind? Because I’d dared to write a blog piece saying that Scots and Gaelic are, along with English, national languages of Scotland. Saying that Gaelic and Scots are national languages of Scotland is apparently justification for a Unionist to liken, in all seriousness, English speakers in Scotland to the victims of the Rwandan genocide and saying that this blog is an incitement to genocide. Far more seriously than any abuse directed at me, that was an insult to the real survivors and victims of real genocide. I don’t recall any Unionists calling the author out for it though.
The accounts responsible for some of the worse Unionist behaviour on platforms like Twitter are engaged with and interacted with by prominent Unionists. The disgustingly foul misogynist Brian Spanner has a whole spannerbag full of prominent Unionist friends who seemingly claim that calling women by the c-word is just a bit of banter. That selfsame Stephen Daisley who likened the entire independence movement to white supremacists is an online friend of the Spanner account and the person or persons behind it. He even tried to make out that Spanner’s apology to some of the women that he or they had abused should be the end of the matter and praised the anonymous account for making an anonymous apology. An anonymous apology is no apology at all.
The dominant characteristic of Unionist abuse is the complete and utter failure of Unionists to recognise that Unionists are frequently abusive. On the very rare occasions when an instance of Unionist abuse attracts the public notice of prominent Unionists, it is always regarded as an isolated instance which is in no way characteristic of Unionism as a whole. This is in very marked contrast to how Unionists depict the online behaviour of independence supporters. The bad behaviour of one independence supporter becomes a characteristic of the movement as a whole.
This isn’t merely about the online abusive behaviour of Unionists however. That’s bad enough. A blindness to their own bad behaviour and unpleasant sentiments runs right through Unionism like a stalk of rock with the words FUCK YOU WE’RE BRITISH written in the middle. The Tories condemn, on remarkably little evidence, the anti-English sentiment that supposedly animates the SNP, yet are incapable of acknowledging, never mind dealing with, the sectarian bigotry that blights their party in Scotland. Labour decries the evils of nationalism while its leaders seek a hard Brexit just like the Tories and wants to put limits on immigration, utterly incapable of admitting to the reality that the Labour party is a British nationalist project. Unionist after Unionist will line up to tell you that they are opposed to nationalism, yet in practice they are advocates of a narrow minded, exclusionary and parochial British nationalism.
It’s never pleasant to face up to bad behaviour from your own colleagues, compatriots, allies and friends. But the independence movement does so. We have the moral strength and the conviction to make our case and to call out what we think is wrong, even when it comes from our own side. I was criticised by some independence supporters for my recent stance in supporting Stu Campbell. In turn I criticised other independence supporters for actions of theirs that I disagreed with. That’s not a sign of weakness, that’s a sign of strength. That’s the sign of a campaign that’s not afraid to challenge the British establishment, and is not afraid to challenge itself.
The case for independence is strong and robust enough to withstand self-criticism, Unionism isn’t. Unionism cannot bear to examine itself. It is not a self-reflective or thoughtful movement. Unionism is the reactionary support of a dying British establishment, a phenomenon which cannot bear to understand its own motives or motivations, because it’s terrified that if it did then it would evaporate like a dirty puddle on a summer’s day. Because there is no depth to it. The real brittle fragility is on the Unionist side. When it comes, and it’s coming, the collapse of Scottish Unionism will be rapid.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Fundraiser
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