Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Marching Season

For those of my readers who are not familiar with the peculiar tribal customs of the north of Ireland, today is the “Glorious 12th.”

It is the high holy day of the Loyal Orange Lodges (L.O.L.) celebrating the victory of the Protestant William of Orange (William III) over the Catholic forces of James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Triumphalist and anti-Catholic in its creed, the Orange Order sends incendiary parades through Nationalist neighborhoods throughout Northern Ireland often provoking rioting while marching to tunes such as “Croppy Lie Down” (“croppy” is a derogatory term for Irish Catholics) and “Kick the Pope” while waving banners and British flags.

The closest analogy one could make for an American audience is that this akin to allowing the Klu Klux Klan march through the streets of Harlem.

While the organization claims to practice religious tolerance, Taigs (another derogatory for Catholics) are strictly forbidden to join (as if any wanted to) and its members suffer expulsion for attending “Papist” ceremonies. When in 1998 Ulster Unionist Party leader and Northern Ireland First Minister-designate, David Trimble representing Northern Ireland attended the funeral Mass for a child murdered in a Real IRA bombing, there were demands that he be expelled by the Orange Order for attending a "Papist ceremony". Members are forbidden to marry Catholics, as the Catholic Church requires its adherents to make all reasonable efforts to raise all their children in the same religion, regardless of the other parent's faith.




Bigotry on Parade Posted by Picasa

American Connection

In fact, this year there is an American connection: an Orange Lodge from Alabama (where else?) has traveled to Tobermore, Co. Derry to participate in one of the 19 rallies being held today. This misbegotten cultural exchange allows the boys to slip out of their hoods and don the sash and bowler, the traditional costume of Unionist bigots.

Ian Paisley, the arch-bigot and political leader, is a prominent member of the LOL and has more than a few unsavory American connections himself.

He styles himself "Dr Paisley", on the basis of the award of an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Bob Jones University, Greenville, South Carolina. Bob Jones Jr., was a close personal friend and a co-leader with Ian Paisley in the international Fundamentalist movement. At the time of the award of this degree, Bob Jones University was a segregationist, unaccredited Christian college which banned African-American students from its campus. This policy was later reversed by stealth, completed in 2000 when the college abandoned its policy banning inter-racial dating following a national debate in the US which was occasioned by George W. Bush's decision to speak from the college's pulpit during his presidential campaign. Bob Jones University remains an unaccredited college.

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