Rock Against Racism began in 1976, in response to controversial
comments made by Eric Clapton and David Bowie. The events didn’t take
off in Northern Ireland. The reason, explains local organiser Peter
Burns, is that “we didn’t have as big a problem with it over here”. I’m
interpreting this as complicity with racism, as some within the punk
movement would have been associated with Nazism.
Mr Burns says that the peace dividend in Northern Ireland makes Rock
Against Racism more relevant, as racism is seen as a big issue now. (“Thirty years on rockers can still stop inequality“, Irish News, 26 April 2008)
But no Rock Against Sectarianism? Goodness, it’s been an even bigger issue for longer!
Don’t get me wrong: I’m fervently anti-racism. I’ve signed the
European Charter against racism. But I don’t like the attitude of
“we’ll address racism first” because it’s “softer” or less
uncomfortable than dealing with our sectarian legacy. Indeed, far from
dislike, I have outright contempt for such complacency.