By Jim Slaven
At first glance it might look like just another cartoon character. Colourful and odd looking it is designed to get young children’s attention in primary school. Placed alongside a cartoon cop and spaceman it does not stand out. However that is only part of the story as this cartoon character is not like others it is the official cartoon character of an organisation famous for bigotry and hatred: The Orange Order.
Last night’s BBC Newsnight Scotland programme had a film discussing education in Scotland. The film included an interview with a teacher based at Edinburgh’s Granton Primary School. Shockingly the backdrop for this interview included the Orange Order’s official cartoon character Diamond Dan, or Sash Gordon. The idea for this cartoon character came from the Orange Order in Ireland but was named after a competition run by the Orange Order in Scotland.
The cartoon image was designed specifically to appeal to young children in the hope of gaining their support for the Orange Order. That it should now find its way into children’s classrooms is indicative of the broader societal problems Scotland must address. This is not an educational tool fit for primary schools, this is the emblem of a bigoted organisation which is a blight on our society.
This can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to normalise a bigoted organisation (and their attitudes) through images and emblems of the Orange Order aimed directly at children. That this should be dressed up as an learning tool, ostensibly used for literacy makes it all the more shocking. This cartoon design was originally stolen from a harmless cartoon but it is clear from the image below that there can be no doubt, it is not the harmless image which is being peddled in primary schools.
There is clearly a problem within this school and this must be addressed immediately. However there are other issues which must be addressed. Scotland’s school children should not be exposed to the Orange Order or their ideology. Questions must be asked about the oversight of Edinburgh Council currently run by a Labour and SNP coalition. Parents must receive assurances that these cartoons are not being used in other schools in the city? The Scottish Government must address this problem as a priority. We have heard much from the SNP government on ‘sectarianism’ in the recent past now they must act. Communities across Scotland should be confident that schools are safe and secure environments conducive to children’s learning and development. They cannot be breeding grounds for bigots or places where bigotry is normalised through cartoons like this one. How many other schools in Scotland are using such inappropriate images as teaching tools?
For those who will argue this is just a cartoon or just harmless in some way, would they say the same if it was a cartoon used by the BNP or the KKK. Organisations peddling hatred, bigotry and racism have no place in our society never mind in our primary schools.
Since last nights Newsnight Scotland was broadcast 107 Cowgate has received numerous complaints from people, many in North Edinburgh and others across Scotland. For those looking for contact details for those responsible for Education in Edinburgh and nationally find the details below.
Edinburgh Council’s Education Convener
Councillor Paul Godzik (Labour)
Scottish Government Education Secretary
Mike Russell (SNP)
This is an apsolute discrace this should be stopped in this day and age
This is very disturbing to hear about. It follows that there is now an urgent need for the necessary authorities with responsibility for education, who were either instrumental in allowing such a situation to occur or were perhaps aware of it being operated and did nothing about it, to fully explain themselves.
Just informed my brother of this as he has 2 children at the school he is absolutely furious that the school would allow such images as this to be displayed given the orange orders sectarian nature .
I also suspect that the bbc are complicit in promoting the Orange Order. Many of their departments are based in Belfast especially the complaints dep’t and they get very irate when you ask them if they are influenced by the O.O. They probably don’t want their close connections widely known. This new development is an absolute disgrace and a mass protest needs to be organised in some shape or form.
I cannot believe that any sound minded person would think that a hard working primary school teacher who is trying to motivate and excite her pupils in literacy by spending valuable time creating colourful and interesting resources to inspire her children in their learning would knowingly use an inappropriate image. Can you not just accept that a genuine mistake was made here and no harm or offence was meant. A very extreme reaction over an obvious unintentional error!
Disgraceful what are we teaching our children. Shame on you.
totally agree all children should be taught the same in schools. keep religion at home or in the church
As usual adults viewing life through adult eyes. the character to these kids was about literacy not the orange order. the designer should have chosen more carefully when plagerising the image. arent we becoming a wee bit hysterical nowadays.
Disappointed to see that two comments posted by me last night on this matter have been moderated and not displayed – is realistic common sense not antagonistic enough?
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