Yesterday should have been one of the busiest shopping days of the year for the retailers of Belfast.
Instead, thousands stayed away and streets were blocked as a loyalist mob thronged into the city.
They were not full of Christmas cheer, but rather white trash angst.
The democratic decision by City Council to take down the Union flag in favour of displaying it on designated days has produced a releaser cue for the loyalist underclass in Belfast.
The pro-union Alliance party was the main target as they had moved the motion in City Hall, which was supported by the SDLP and Sinn Féin.
The republican party had initially moved that both the Union flag and the Tricolour have equal positioning on City hall with a neutral City Council flag being more prominent.
Loyalist street trouble in the Six Counties is normally seasonal.
It is a form of fascist midsummer madness.
However, this issue has turned the flagpole at City Hall into a lightning rod for the cultural insecurity of Norn Iron’s white trash.
Outsiders, i.e. British people, have told me of their bewilderment at this behaviour.
It was pointed out to me by a friend that a local government decision of this kind would not generate such a response in his native Birmingham.
In fact, he had no idea what flag was on any of the public buildings in his city.
He assumed that the Union flag would be there.
The key thing was that he didn’t care.
He didn’t care.
Despite the protestations of the loyalists about their innate Britishness, most people in Britain look on them as being somewhat different.
Certainly the “flegs” issue is difficult to translate for most people in England and Wales.
Only in Scotland is there something of an ethnic empathy for Sammy in Ulstur.
The fact remains that most people in Britain simply don’t get this.
Ironically, I think that the high profile visitor in Belfast this week, Hilary Rodham Clinton, would get it exactly.
The current US Secretary of State’s experience as the first lady of Arkansas would allow her to translate what was going down in Belfast.
Like the confederate flag flying from state buildings in the Deep South, the Union flag over Belfast City Hall has a symbolism and everyone within the culture understands the true message.
Loyalism is, at its root, about supremacist strutting and a visceral hatred of the out group.
When the “Scots Irish” migrated to North America they took their xenophobia with them.
Now, in the new Northern Ireland, without an ability to vent that hatred, loyalism isn’t really loyalism anymore.
Their attempts to create genuine cultural products celebrating who they are don’t really pass muster.
Yesterday, Irish journalist Brian Whelan tried to educate his followers on Twitter:
“@brianwhelanhack If you need to understand the poverty of loyalist culture, this song might help “
Loyalists self-define largely by their collective ability to “stick it to the taigs”.
In the new dispensation they cannot do that in a way which would have been the norm for previous generations of their community.
In the USA, the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is the Commander In Chief was just too much to take for some.
The “birthers” and the “teabaggers” took to the street and they said that they “wanted their country back!”
The old wasp dominance in America, like the USA’s global hegemony, will probably pass into history sometime this century.
It is an impoverished psychological state when you are threatened by equality, but that is what drives the klan on both sides of the Pond.
The more they swagger with supremacism, they greater they reveal their deep cultural insecurity.
Faced with a democratic decision they do not like, they reacted in a way that will be familiar to the inhabitants of Planet Fitba.
It is not just property that has been threatened.
The Belfast Agreement is an internationally ratified treaty that states that the people of Northern Ireland have the right to be “British, Irish or both”.
Within that new dispensation, there is no place for loyalist supremacism.
Some of the protestors carried a bed sheet banner that stated Northern Ireland was British “then, now and forever”.
However, everyone, especially the protestors, knows that this is not the case.
Their day has gone.