Our celtic friends have long memories. Half of them couldn’t tell you what caused either of the world wars or who took part in the Boer or Crimean wars but they can give you a magnificent account of the Battle of Banockburn or the Battle of Culloden. They’ll reel off a long list of everything that the English have done to Scotland in the past 800 years and vice versa. They’ll give you a tearful rendition of
Mel Gibson William Wallace’s “You’ll never take our freedooooooom” given half a chance.
It’s a dangerous position to be in – there is so much racial hatred ingrained in the Scottish psyche that some of them feel moved, by a work of fiction such as Braveheart, to carry out racist attacks. Innocent English people who are attacked in the street for the hideous crime of wearing and England football shirt had it coming to them for rubbing salt into 500 year old wounds.
Of course, most Scottish people don’t feel the urge to beat up people or vandalise their houses for being English but there is a vocal minority that really do hate the English with a passion simply because of things that happened hundreds of years ago.
Don’t worry, there is a point to – stay with me.
The anti-English feeling north of the border has been passed down from generation to generation and the emphasis placed on Scottish history (the only history Scotland really has is of fighting with England) has helped to reinforce that anti-English sentiments that are almost part-and-parcel of everyday Scottish life.
I’m getting to the point now. A Scottish-born millionaire who, like so many other Scottish “patriots”, loves Scotland so much he lives in Canada has paid for a “Clearances Centre” and a statue near the Strath of Kildonan. The statue is to remember the Scots that suffered from the Highland Clearances when Lord Sutherland had families evicted from his estate. The commonly accepted version of events holds that the Highlanders were treated appalingly – the full works, rape, pillaging, etc. There is an alternative version of events that says that they weren’t as bad as all that but that it was used as a propaganda tool. We’ll never know which version of events is true because it’s in the distant past but how often will this be mentioned in Scottish history lessons?
Even after hundreds of years the wounds are still raw north of the border and this statue – as with the statue of Mel Gibson pretending to be William Wallace – will only serve as a permanent reminder and a focal point for agression. The Scottish/Canadian patriot wants 5 or 6 of these statues in places where Scots have settled in places like the US and Australia. I’m half expecting a public apology from the Scottish Prime Minister on behalf of his English subjects for the treatment of Scotland.
No matter what your background is or your personal feelings, you have to ask what kind of a message this conveys. It’s time to stop looking to the past and letting events of 300 or more years ago define your existence. The statues are a bad idea, they’re negative and to be quite frank, they’re irrelevant. It’s time Scotland put the past behind them and started looking to the future.