Do Not Become That Which You Despise

We have written much, mainly on social media, about the dehumanising rhetoric of Irish republicanism. About how republicans have carefully crafted a malignant stereotype of the Loyalist and wider Unionist community in Northern Ireland, reducing an entire people down to a grotesque caricature. That pernicious and nakedly sectarian narrative has now become so deeply entrenched within the republican and so-called ‘nationalist’ community that it is now almost ubiquitous. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find any Irish republicans, at least any under the age of 50, who are not firmly convinced that the ‘PUL’ community are a shambling, Ill-educated, ignorant and backwards people, obsessed with flags and marching.

“Dehumanisation is a first step towards genocide

The stereotype was carefully constructed and like all stereotypes it has, at it’s core, some kernel of validity. Irish republicans have, however, taken every negative aspect, every questionable facet, of the Loyalist/Unionist community and exaggerated them, twisted them beyond all recognition, creating a kind of Frankenstein’s monster from the rotten pieces of a cadaver that has never really existed.

The Twilight of the ‘Superprods’

Loyalism could stoop to the same odious, contemptible depths as republicanism, that however, would be both morally and politically wrong. In the 1980’s and 90’s Loyalist leaders, especially within the Ulster Democratic Party (and its predecessor, the NUPRG), worked tirelessly to eradicate the kind of narrow sectarian attitude which had existed within certain elements of Loyalism in the 1970’s, the sort of retrograde attitude typified by Paisley and the various ‘movements’ and ‘forces’ he and his fellow travellers headed from the mid 60’s onwards.

The ‘superprod’ segment of Loyalism, which was already very much a fringe element, was well and truly marginalised. Policy documents such as Beyond the Religious Divide (1979) and Common Sense (1987), made it abundantly clear that there was no room, at least within the Ulster Defence Association and its satellite groups, for the sort of lazy sectarianism purveyed by the ‘superprods’.

Common Sense; the brainchild of John McMichael

That is not a denial of the, sometimes overtly, sectarian actions of the UDA/UFF. It must be remembered however that “two eyes for an eye” was a military tactic. A brutal and callous tactic but one that nevertheless proved effective in the long term. The dual strategy of targeting republican activists and those who afforded them logistical, financial and moral support ultimately forced PIRA/Sinn Fein to the negotiating table, no longer able to ignore the pressure being exerted upon their movement and the community which provided the support and backup necessary to sustain their terrorist campaign.

Comparison of Ideology

Loyalism cannot be allowed to go backward. We cannot, and will not, stoop to the level of our opponents. We must recognise the humanity of our enemies. We must not allow ourselves to cultivate ignorant and dehumanising stereotypes about the Irish republican community, even though that is precisely what republicans have done in regards to our community. Loyalism is not a corrosive ideology, it is not seditious or insurgent. Loyalism does not have to dehumanise others.

At its core Ulster Loyalism is about reforming and maintaining the state and it’s institutions, Irish republicanism is about subversion, insurrection and the overthrow of the state. Rather than alienating and ‘othering’ people, Loyalism will profit infinitely more through inclusion and respect. At the very least we must remember that our opponents, even those who were formerly engaged in terrorism and those who act as apologists for that violence, are still human beings with genuine aspirations and fears and concerns. We are not Nazis, Communists or Irish republicans. We must retain the dignity, the core values and the integrity of our ideology. To do otherwise would be to betray the legacy of McMichael, Barr, Smallwoods et al.

Fight the Stereotype

The toxic narrative of Irish republicanism will never be challenged from within. The cult of violent failure allows for little in the way of dissent. Therefore it is incumbent upon Loyalists to undermine and destroy the malignant, repulsive myths spun by Irish republicans about our community and to challenge the stereotypes so carefully constructed about us.

Irish republicanism; the politics of violent failure

Challenge those who purvey these pernicious lies. Dispel their hateful mythos but do not lower yourself to their level. Conduct yourself with self respect and dignity. Never forget that you, as a Loyalist, seek to maintain and to protect, whereas those who oppose us seek to destroy, subvert, undermine and usurp. Remind yourself that Irish republicanism has been trying, and miserably failing, to attain its nefarious objectives for over 100 years and that for 98 years they have tried to destroy the state of Northern Ireland. Without success.

Perhaps such abject and abysmal failure is a motivating factor in the republican movements efforts to dehumanise and degrade the Loyalist and wider Unionist community. Perhaps it is a side effect of the cognitive dissonance caused by constantly being told that they are, at the same time, both a race of “gaelic supermen” and the world’s most victimised, oppressed and downtrodden people. Whatever is behind it, their wretched narrative will be demolished. It is a weapon which Loyalists can, and should, use against them.

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Leading Not Following

Real Loyalism vs. Pantomime Loyalism

Who really represents Loyalists? Is it the likes of Wully Frazer, Jim Dowson or Jamie Bryson? Or is it ex-combatants, the UPRG and the Progressive Unionist Party? I can tell you who is doing valuable work in working-class communities, who is striving to improve the lives of ordinary people. But if I really have to tell you then this blog is probably way over your head anyway. Only an absolute imbecile looks at people like Frazer and Bryson and assumes that they are representative of Ulster Loyalism. An imbecile or someone with a pernicious, dehumanizing, hateful agenda that likes to portray Loyalism and Unionism as some sort of extremist fringe.

Anyone with an ounce of sense, with any political maturity, can see that the Loyalist community has many genuine grievances, any many genuine concerns. Loyalists do not follow demagogues anymore. We do not allow ourselves to be lead by 3rd rate Carsons, or at least most of us don’t. “The Troubles” have taught both Loyalists and republicans some harsh lessons. One lesson it taught Loyalists was to be wary of those who shout loudest but rarely get their hands dirty.

Real Loyalists can see straight through the hysterical rhetoric of these reincarnated Hugh Hannahs. We are not obsessed with the issue of flags and emblems, we do not wrap ourselves in the Union flag. Modern Loyalism is typified far more by people like Izzy Giles or Cllr. Russell Watton than by anyone from within the ranks of ‘Prod Co.’ or the UPV (although let me be clear that I harbour no hostility towards such groups)

Loyalism is not the stereotype some would like to portray it to be. For the time being, Loyalists are content to take a back seat, applying political pressure as and when needed. The Union is secure. Irish nationalist terrorism has been defeated. Those who maintain that Loyalists are running scared or that we feel our ultimate defeat is imminent, are foolhardy and naïve. Real Loyalists are leaders, not followers. We are content to work quietly, in the background if necessary. We sometimes shun the glare of publicity, nonetheless we will always be ready, always patient, always vigilant, always thinking ahead. Leading, not following.