We have long been encouraged to accept and try to understand the Orange culture and society as practiced by hundreds of thousands of Northern Ireland Protestants.
Good faith efforts have been made to try and understand a culture that seemed to be based on “Croppie lie down” more than any other driving force.
But the full panoply of hate was to be seen in the massive bonfires that were lit all over the North on July 12th celebrating their “culture.”
There were many remarkable examples taken from the KKK manual as far as I can see.
There was the effigy of Gerry Adams in a Celtic shirt being lynched.
Adams called it “hate speech” but apart from some tut tutting nothing was done by authorities.
Then there were the Irish flags with the vilest racism scrawled on them.
“Wee (sic) are not racist we just hate cotton picken N..”. ran one wonderful slogan.
An Asian born politician in Northern Ireland was accused of eating dogs. The full trifecta of bigotry, racism and hate was on full view.
But we are supposed to accept and encourage this culture.
This is not culture. it is hate speech and it has no place in Northern Ireland or in any part of the world.
So let’s call a spade a spade when it comes to these aspects of Orange culture.
It is racism not culture; hate speech not free speech, incitement to violence not empty and harmless sloganeering.
The sooner those truths emerge the better the opportunity to face the future honestly in the North.
And no amount of covering up the harsh realities of what many Orange participants consider normal behavior will change that.