Questioning The Media Myth Of The Moderate Orange Order

British terrorists pose with an L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle, two Webley Mk IV Service Revolvers, a home-made Sterling submachine gun
British terrorists pose with an L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle, two Webley Mk IV Service Revolvers and a home-made Sterling submachine gun. Someone was rummaging through the boxes in Uncle Willy’s attic…

Another July 12th round of rioting, street disturbances, house-burnings and general displays of sectarianism, racism and straight-forward fascism. Of course some people will protest that such incidences are in the minority, and make the news headlines precisely because of their relative rarity. The vast majority of events around the “Twelfth”, they argue, pass off without violence or confrontation (beyond a few bellicose speeches and hangovers in various fields and housing estates). Most of those who wear the sash of the Grand Orange Lodge Of Ireland, more commonly the Orange Order, are law-abiding people, most of their parades are peaceful, and most of the British and unionist bonfire-burnings or street-celebrations in the north of the country are free of inter-communal trouble. However, one is tempted to ask: so what?

The vast majority of those in the Ku Klux Klan obey the laws of the United States, however much they may disagree with aspects of them, and most partake in peaceful parades or celebrations of their “culture”. However that does not make their organisation and the views it espouses – or encourages – any less reprehensible in the 21st century than it was in the 20th or 19th. A perfect reasonableness in day-to-day life, an adherence to ordinariness, does not negate the vileness of the discriminatory ideology some people, be they in the KKK or the OO, sympathise with. Any more than the hundreds of thousands of Americans who reject racism while rallying to the defence of the Confederate battle flag can legitimately reject the percieved and actual links between the former and the latter. Popularity does not lend credibility to discreditable causes.

The Grand Orange Lodge Of Ireland is an organisation committed to upholding the historic legacy of Britain’s colonial misadventures on this island, and it does so upon the basis of a perceived religious and quasi-racial supremacism over the “native” or Catholic Irish (whatever that crude definition may now mean). It is simply dishonest to argue otherwise. The Order makes no bones about such matters in its own contemporary description of itself:

“We are a Protestant fraternity with members throughout the world.

In 1795, …it was decided to form an organisation which would protect Protestants. This body, drawing on existing Orange Clubs in the neighbourhood, was named the Loyal Orange Institution.

In modern times the Loyal Orange Institution continues to function, with thousands of members in Ireland many others across the world. Today defending Protestantism is not so literal as it was in 1795, but it requires us to take a stand for truth in an age of secularism and in order to defend our culture and traditions.”

On its website the OO outlines its purpose as a force that unites Protestant fundamentalism with British nationalism:

“The introduction of Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill in 1886 gave the Order a membership which was to transform it completely to make it a highly respectable and exceedingly powerful religious political organisation.

The whole influence of the Order was to be on the side of continuing union with Great Britain on the existing pattern.

From the outset of the campaign against Home Rule the Orange Order had taken a responsible part. There was a high standard of leadership utterly dedicated to the service of the Unionist and Protestant cause.

It is certain that without the Order the fight for the maintenance of the Union would have been lost.”

The Orange Order is not a fraternity, it is not some ersatz form of harmless freemasonry like the Shriners or a glorified club for former frat house “bros”. It is a sub-militant, politico-religious movement dedicated to promulgating the UK’s historic colonial administration over part of the island nation of Ireland, and on behalf of the chief communal benefactors of that administration. All else is disingenuous playacting.

Meanwhile, in the wake of yet another “Twelfth” crisis, British terrorists flex their muscles, albeit in an unconvincing manner, as reported by the Gordian newspaper in the UK:

“A new unnamed loyalist terror group has threatened members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Parades Commission in a potentially dangerous twist to Ulster’s turbulent marching season.

The statement was accompanied by a photograph of three people wearing masks and camouflage-style clothing sitting at a table on which appear to be two revolvers, a machine gun and a self-loading rifle that was standard issue in the British Army until the 1990s.”

In fact the photo, featured at the top of this post, shows three individuals dressed in British military-style “disruptive pattern material” or DPM uniforms, accompanied by an old, semi-automatic L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (more commonly known as the SLR), two ancient-looking Webley Mk IV .38/200 Service Revolvers, and what may well may be one of the last examples of a home-made “loyalist” submachine gun, an improvised weapon based upon the conventional Sterling model formerly used by the British army and RUC. Several hundred were produced by unionist workshops in the 1980s and ’90s, though relatively few were safe to use.

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10 comments

  1. And today the US President is giving a speech to the Choctaw Nation (what are the odds?), and “Confederate Lives Matter” fleggers are lining the roads in protest.

    Thing is, I agree that Confederate and British lives matter, per se. Many thousands of these “Scots-Irish” souls were sacrificed to both the Stars ‘N Bars and the Butcher’s Apron, so I will concede that these flags belong in graveyards and war memorials. No disrespect to the dead. But settler-colonial identity dies hard, and it’s usually accompanied by major temper-tantrums.

    And let’s be clear, it’s not the decedents of the Southern English aristocracy out there with Confederate Flegs. These are Ulster planters who never owned a Southern plantation of their own once they washed up on these shores. However, “dirt poor and uneducated” is the perfect description of both a Klansmen and a Loyalist terrorist. And quite frankly, these guys and their “identity” need to take a back seat compared to victims of the colonial violence they perpetrated.

  2. I think it’s a bit of a sweeping statement to say that all those waving Confederate flags in the Southern states are the descendants of “Scots-Irish” settlers. How do you know?

    1. Certainly not “all”, but there is a distinct sociological phenomenon in regards to the cultural continuity of Ulster Protestant identity and Southern Protestant/WASP identity. It’s not meant to be a statement about ethnicity, as many of these “WASP”s actually descend from Gaels and not the “Lowland Germanic” of southern Scotland. In fact, “Scots-Irish” is not an ethnicity but a statement that says “I’m no Papist, but I’m not English either”. These identities were formed by the segregation laws of the Ulster plantations, and then this was continued when boatloads of these folks ended up in the segregated South. It’s an identity created by segregation, and without some kind of separatism, the identity falls apart. So you get the “still under siege” mentality being displayed now across the South, and this can be traced right back to the walls of Derry. Compare the rhetoric of Ian Paisley to the rhetoric of the Klan sometime, it’s rather enlightening.

      I was raised with this mentality. I know it all too well. I don’t think I’m making too broad a generalization. There are plenty of “dignified” aristocratic racists in the South of course, but I dare say it’s the lower working classes who have nothing to lose but their Battle Fleg, and these folks are attached to it the most, and they want the world to know it’s “no surrender”.

      There is, however, a “wealth” of literature on the subject:
      “The Other Irish” by Karen F. McCarthy
      “Born Fighting” by Jim Webb
      “From Ulster to Carolina” by Blethen and Wood
      “The People With No Name” by Patrick Griffin

      I have a few close friends who escaped the South, and more than one had a grandfather high up in the Klan. They can all trace their families right back to Ulster.

      1. I’ve been on holiday so my comments are a bit late. Could you be more specific on the segregation laws of the Ulster plantation. I wasn’t aware there were any such laws. If there were, then they didn’t work very well, as your average Presbyterian graveyard in N.I. contains a considerable number of “Native Irish” surnames. I also don’t think most of the Lowlanders, who came mainly from Galloway and S-W Scotland could be considered as “Germanic,” unless you consider surnames like McCullough, McComb, McClintock or McCloy as Germanic. I’ve just picked a few from my own recent family tree. The people the Eighteenth Century “Scots-Irish” were trying to escape were’nt the Catholic Irish, but the Anglican ruling class, which might have influenced the decision of most of them to fight on the American side in the War of Independence.
        And, I agree with you, there has been a tremendous amount of, mostly bad, literature written on the “Scots-Irish.”

    1. Great..
      All’s that’s missing is a Van Morrison soundtrack.
      There will be days like this.

      ” When it’s not always raining, there’ll be day’s like this.
      When you don’t have to worry “”””” “”” “”
      when you don’t have no freeloaders..there’ll be days like this.

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