This is the time of year when I hate being Northern Irish. I loathe the 12th July and everything it stands for. I wrote about it last year in this post.
If anything it seems worse this year than in previous years as the bonfires have got bigger and bigger and are draped with the symbols of everything that loyalist hate. Besides Catholics, hate figures include Palestinians, members of the Alliance Party, the police, Muslims, foreigners, non-English speakers (Ulster-Scots excepted) and anyone who who holds any kind of liberal views. Tonight the fires will be burning, belching out carcinogenic fumes all over the drunken revellers whose culture seems to consist of drinking, playing in flute bands, fighting, being racist, supporting Israel, being anti-semitic, more drinking and criminality. (I've just seen a photograph of the bonfire in Antrim which has a sign on it saying "We're not racists, we just hate niggas.".)
I find it impossible to understand why people consider this family entertainment. I certainly wouldn't want to have to explain what FTP or KAT stands for to any small children in my family. In my post last year I mentioned the KKK as an example of another shameful organisation making the point that this is not something decent people would support. This year the loyalists have been dressing up as KKK members. Apparently it is all part of their culture.
This is a shame as there is a huge cultural tradition in Ireland that is part of the Protestant heritage.
Off the top of my head this would include people like Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken (my granny claimed some connection to him), Oscar Wilde, W.B and Jack Yeats, Lady Gregory, Eileen Gray, Samuel Beckett, John Hewitt, Michael Longley, Van Morrison, George Best, Kenneth Brannagh and hundreds more.
I imagine that most loyalists though wouldn't have heard of any of these people - well, maybe Georgie Best - and would have no interest in anything any of them achieved.
I hope if you are unfortunate enough tonight to be in Northern Ireland you stay safe.