The Great Poppy Debate!

Posted on November 10, 2011

Have you got your Poppy on? I have bought two I think, perhaps three, donating a few quid to the Royal British Legion in the process in hoping that it may go some way to helping some poor bastard who has had his legs blown off in one of the horrendous wars the Bush/Blair axis took us in to in the last decade or so. One of these wars, if you remember, was in Iraq, where troops were sent to save the British people from an all out nuclear attack that could be launched within forty five minutes. As it turned out, Saddam owned a camel with a couple of fireworks strapped to it, a few catapults and a junior chemistry set, but that didn’t stop us. When I saw Tony Blair wearing a poppy on remembrance day that year, it made me feel sick, it was as if though the Poppy was a justification for more slaughter, not a symbol of the tragedy of those lost in the hideous wars of the last 100 years.

This year has seen the symbol of the Poppy lost again amongst jingoistic press and media who are on an all out mission to prove they are more patriotic than the rest, the tabloids The Mail, Express and The Sun are leading the way in demonising and almost demanding the hanging of anyone who questions the political or media abuse of the red flower that covers the green fields of France that were home to such widespread slaughter of teenage men from all nations. The sheer number of young men who perished in the most miserable circumstances never ceases to shock me, and in my humble opinion, remembrance day is the right way to bring this to the attention of generations to come, what I just find vulgar is the bandwagon that it creates in media and political point scoring every year. The classic this year has been the argument between FIFA and the FA whether England Footballers can have a Poppy on their shirts when they get humiliated by Spain this weekend.

Firstly, the most justifiable (some word argue the only justifiable) war of the past 100 years was World War II. Let’s remember that at first, this war was fought as a defence of Britain, there were many high profile figures who wanted peace with Germany, letting them rule Europe as long as the Empire stayed intact. Thankfully our conscience swayed in favour of liberation of Europe and the rest, as they say, is history. One thing has remained consistent since then and that is that those who perished in France, Holland and Belgium did so, so that future generations (us) could have the freedom to make our own choices and express our own feelings without prejudice or demonisation, that is what democracy is supposed to allow. So why then do FIFA (who I hate anyway) have a right to dictate whether footballers can wear a Poppy on their football shirts? That is crushing freedom of expression, but that is Sepp Blatter (who I also hate) all over, a dictator who would have been nowhere near the rat infested trenches of no mans land.

The FA should not have had to ask FIFA for permission to wear Poppies, however, every footballer pulling on the shirt should be asked if they wish to wear one, they should not be forced to, because that ladies and gentlemen, is enforcing opinion upon individuals and it is simply not freedom. The FIFA debate has been a red rag (or poppy?) to a bull to the tabloids and politicians with David Cameron our great PM not wasting time to score cheap popularity points by backing our brave boys (footballers not soldiers) to wear Poppies when they want and where they want. Surely that is not what it is all about is it? I would expect that half the footballers don’t even know what the symbolism of a Poppy is anyway, but can you imagine of one them stood up and said that actually, he didn’t feel comfortable wearing a Poppy as he felt it had become a jingoistic political and media tool, rather than a poignant symbol of those who have perished? You know what would happen….. a burning effigy of him would be burning outside Upton Park as The Sun chased him to all corners of the globe to gain patriotic retribution against someone who had clearly forgotten what made this nation Great. That’s not freedom.

When we are wearing our Poppies this year, perhaps we should also wear them as a mark of respect to every ten civilians that have died to every one soldier in last 100 years. Most of all we should wear the Poppy because we want to, not because The Sun or the Government tell us we have to, or FIFA tell us we can’t.

So this is freedom, they must be joking.

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