Saturday, February 17, 2007

A View From Catholic Scotland

[I pulled this off of a blog from the westcoast of Scotland. Thought some PW faithful, many of whom are fellow Catholic travellers, might find it interesting. The original is here]
It's sometimes strange what people type into Google and find West Coast Ramblings. The most common search phrase that finds my blog might be 'An analysis of a poem by Keats' or 'TMA02' or some such associated with my OU studies and it's nice to see new visitors, isn't it. Imagine my surpise therefore when I discovered I was up there on Google for the search phrase 'Imagine all the proddies', because that is exactly the phrase that someone has typed in and found me. What do you think it means? Did John Lennon write another version of his most famous song especially for the Catholic/Protestant divide?I was born and raised in the West of Scotland and although raised a Catholic I never identified with that section of the populace who were descended from the Irish Catholic. There were at my school more Dochertys and Gallaghers, O'Neills and McLaughlins, than there were more commonly perceived Scots names such as McDonald and Mackenzie etc. They were still running a weekly bus between Glasgow and Donegal in those days. But although many of my classmates aligned themselves as being Irish first, Scots second, Celtic supporting etc. I really never, except for a period when I used to take advantage of a free entry into Parkhead after shaking a collecting tin for one of the local priests, I really never felt myself to be in the same mould so to speak. Well I didn't have the genetic background for a start; my mother's side were originally Scots and Welsh and my father's lineage goes back to the Cromarty Firth area for some hundreds of years.I suppose I must have made a conscious decision at some point that if I was going to support any team then for me it felt better to support the local team, Greenock Morton, and so I could stand aloof from all that Rangers/Celtic/Proddy/Catholic crap that so many people wanted to hang on to. Serving an apprenticeship in the local shipbuilding and marine engineering industry in the early sixties I was nevertheless exposed to anti Catholic bigotry and in my naievete my reaction was bemusement, perhaps even bewilderment. Still I was never tempted to react either by pretending to be what I wasn't or by going to the other extreme and adopting the green and white of the Catholic bigot.We've moved on from those days and now although Orange marches and Irish republican marches in the west of Scotland are not entirely a thing of the past they, and the people who promote such things, are increasingly irrelevant and in the general perception so insignificant as to be nearly moribund. And a good thing too.Anway the number one result for the Google search 'Imagine all the proddies' will take you to a letter in the on-line Scotsman which begins thus:It was deeply disappointing to see Sam Galbraith's comments that Catholic schools are the "root cause of sectarianism" (your report, 26 December). As one who travels frequently in other European countries, and has seen separate Catholic schools in action with none of the prejudices that exist in Scotland, it is clear bigotry is bred in the home and the community. Now I can't say I know Sam Galbraith but I used to live in the same scheme as him and looked up to him when I was a Boy Scout and he was a charismatic Venture Scout. His career as a consultant neuro-surgeon, Westminster MP and cabinet minister in a sense mirrored the heights he scaled as a first class mountaineer. He went to Greenock High School, the local 'proddy' school as we used to think of non-denominational schools in those days. And I agree with him; I just hate this separate school system we have in Scotland. It is divisive and it is also simply unfair. There is no justification for it and it should be scrapped. And it would be except for the disproportionate power wielded by the Catholic church in central Scotland local and national politics. I bow to no-one in my support of people to practice their religion but that religion should stand on its own two feet and not depend on an unfair advantage in order to achieve a dominant position in society.This is a secular society and our schools should reflect this. Fuck religion. Now I welcome your comments on the above but here's a challenge for you; if you wish to offer an argument in favour of separate Catholic schools you are not allowed to use the word 'ethos'.
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