There are few depths the Rangers Celtic rivalry will not plunge in order to get one over on each other, but in the wake of a backlash to Black Lives Matter (BLM), it might’ve just reached a new one.
How tragic a sight that in 2020 even the issue of racism cannot unite Scotland’s big two as Celtic fans – some even making fake accounts – scramble to denounce any progressive move by the Ibrox club.
In response, those Celtic fans are being met with reminders of disgraceful incidents in the not so distant past and the Parkhead club’s pretty woeful historic record on the subject.
It is truly depressing that in Scotland – a country which apparently prides itself on inclusivity and progressive ideas – that legitimate issues such as this can be hijacked in the name of rivalry.
That backlash from a vocal minority of Rangers fans after the club’s players took the knee and raised their fists – largely from white men justifying their discontent through claims of Marxist conspiracies or some other political buzz term they can barely pronounce let alone conceptualise – has been quashed by a powerful wave of support from Rangers fans.
Similarly, the club too has extended its fist and smashed these ideas and attitudes into oblivion.
The message is simple – if you can’t support our team and our players and accept the direction the club is taking, then you are not welcome at Ibrox.
“To be clear, if you are unable to support our players, regardless of their background, you are not welcome at Ibrox,” reads a Rangers statement. “Rangers is a club for all.”
Again, the Rangers support took to Twitter to dramatically sound out those voices of discontent, raising a fist in solidarity with the Connor Goldsons, James Taverniers and Jermain Defoes, black senior players who have been passionate and vocal in their support of the BLM movement.
Black senior players who are passionate in their support of Rangers and proud to play for the club.
It is an incredibly positive step and an absolutely necessary one.
For too long much of the Rangers support has been intimidated into silence concerning one issue or the other, the bellowing image of conspiratorial racism a face too long associated with the club.
Now – proudly with a black captain and with a squad full of talented, young black players – that face is changing and Rangers are evolving.
For some Celtic fans, this shatters an illusion of the Rangers support which has been built up through years of their own conspiracy, their own prejudice, and dare I say it, their own experience.
But the reality is – and remains – that most supporters on either side of the Glasgow divide abhor racism.
Some just might not abhor it more than they do each other.