When one person is attacked because of their nationality, that’s xenophobia. When 100 people are intimidated out of their homes and have to flee the country, that’s ethnic cleansing.
Once again, the loyalists of Northern Ireland show the world what an ugly bunch they are. After years of intimidating their Catholic neighbours, they now concentrate on immigrants, though the recent attacks on Romanians are nothing new. Before this, they were attacking Poles, Africans and anyone else they perceived to be different.
Bigotry, of course, is nothing new to Northern Ireland’s loyalist culture. Hatred of non-loyalists is at its very heart because loyalists, by definition, are intensely aware of their own status as outsiders. They celebrate it. They flaunt it. They commemorate their ancestors’ arrival on these shores, displacing and dispossessing the indigenous Irish. The manner of their commemorations has for years been designed to cause maximum insult to those they perceive to be the conquered population.
On the face of it, to any reasonable person, they seem to be completely unaware of the irony in their position. Any reasonable person might point out that the loyalists themselves are self-proclaimed outsiders, having no connection in any form with Irish culture. The reasonable man might therefore ask how these manifest outsiders could display such hatred towards other outsiders instead of feeling empathy with them.
That would miss the point completely. Loyalists don’t do irony. Loyalists couldn’t give a flying fuck about anyone else. At the heart of the loyalist credo is one simple theme: we took this place by violence and we’ll keep it by violence.
I’m not saying all unionists think like that. There are many who happen to believe the union was a preferable political structure but consider themselves fully part of the Irish culture.
Loyalism is different, and increasingly dangerous as it binds closer and closer with European Fascist movements such as Combat 18 and the BNP. We now see loyalist mobs attacking the homes of Romanians, smashing windows in the church where they took refuge and chanting Nazi slogans.
Where is this all leading?
Previously on Bock: