Poppy Fascism Draws to a Close

Posted on November 12, 2014

One thing that came to my attention last weekend was the need for Wigan Athletic winger, James McLean, almost being forced to write a letter to his chairman, Dave Whelan, to explain his reasons for not wearing a football shirt with a poppy embroidered on it.

You can read his letter HERE 

McLean is from Derry, scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre. To display a poppy on a football shirt, in his very honest opinion, would be seen as disrespectful to his people, so he decided not to wear one.

Cue the accusations of being a terrorist and unpatriotic to the country that gave him the riches that football offers. It is even worse if you are an Eastern European or a Muslim as the right-wing press will label you as whatever they want for a bit of populist hysteria. Some tabloids virtually demanded that ethnic minorities wear poppies to show allegiance.

The fact is that James McLean, if we are talking about democracy, shouldn’t have to explain why he chooses not to wear a poppy but the last time he didn’t wear one, he was on the verge of getting arrested as a 21st century member of the Birmingham Six, so he had no choice. That’s not democratic in my book and the words ‘no’ and ‘choice’ indicate I could be on to something.

Credit goes to McLean, from me anyway, because at least he knows his history and his stance is not against those who died in WWI (of which many were Irish) but the actions of the British Army thereafter, when they colluded with loyalist paramilitaries during what were commonly known as ‘The Troubles’ which is an understatement if there ever was one.


McLean: Refused to Wear a Poppy

What would be intriguing would be a survey asking why people choose to wear a poppy.

I am not pooh poohing the whole event, as the RBL (Royal British Legion) is a wonderful fund-raising institute, but I bet there is an embarrassing number of people across our national brain pool of useless information that do not have any idea of the suffering that soldiers, Allied and German, went through. This was all to maintain the Status Quo within the aristocracy and the upper classes, whilst those who somehow survived the onslaught, were no better off.

The fact is, the wearing of a poppy has become a fashion event, a must have indication of patriotic fervour where politicians and newsreaders race to be the first to adorn one when mid-October arrives. To not wear a poppy is seen by many, who have been wound up by the media and right wing organisations, as an act of treachery. However, it is worth taking note that thousands donate to the RBL but choose not to wear a poppy as they see it has become a political, or even fashion symbol that they do not wish to be associated with.

I reckon I have donated on average, ten pounds a year to the RBL since I started work but I haven’t worn a poppy for at least a decade, partly because I have no need to and partly because as I get older, my love of modern history becomes greater and I see WWI in particular as a mass slaughter, not a glorious war. Never has a war that cost so many, benefited such a few.

The Poppy Appeal is a great thing as a fund raiser and for those who choose to wear them or stick them on cars and vans as a show of annual fashionable nationalism, it is their right to do so and show whatever kind of pride they want, whether it is genuine or false.

However, if democracy is what we have, it is also the right of public figures such as footballer, James McClean, or newsreader, Jon Snow, not be judged on their feelings about the complexities of all the wars that have occurred since 1914, many of which, as history tells us, were a largely pointless death sentence for boys as young as 16 and tens of thousands of civilians across the globe.

It seems like ever since the death of Diana, the nation has to get involved in a sheep like behavioural pattern where if we choose not to wear a poppy or bawl our eyes out whilst chucking flowers at a state funded hearse, we are unpatriotic n’er do well characters with no respect for the values of this great country. A minute of silence used to be once a year on November 11th, now, at sporting events, it is for every public figure you can imagine.

God knows what will happen when he Queen croaks it but if some people were told to wear concrete boots and jump off Tower Bridge holding a bunch of flowers they would do it with gusto.

WWI was supposed to be the ‘War to end all Wars’ and because it decimated UK finances it was for some time at least. Then, in 1939, we really got going and since 1945 British soldiers have been involved in battles in the following countries…are you ready…Palestine, Malaya, Korea, Cyprus, Egypt, Aden, Borneo, Dhofar, Northern Ireland, Oman, The Falklands, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo Sierra Leone, Iraq again and Afghanistan. 

When you look at that list it is easy to see why many people give to the RBL as it aids injured servicemen, but choose not to adorn something that they feel, quite justifiably in my opinion, glorifies grotesque acts of military combat that not only failed, but were sold to the public and on the back of a lie.


1 Reply to "Poppy Fascism Draws to a Close "

  • stewart withey
    November 13, 2014 (8:00 am)

    Well said, I couldn’t agree more. There was something unsettling with that sea of poppies around the Tower of London like some kind of installation art for the Daily Mail generation. The sacrifices of lost servicemen and woman used as an excuse for one big sentimental AH moment.
    I tried to find out about how my Great grandfather born in Andover and killed in WW1 in Italy ended up buried in a grave overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. All i got was a few scraps of War Office paper and an address for a hole in the ground. As far as I can tell not only was he fallen but he was also quickly forgotten. My Grandmother and her sisters lost their father and were forced into service at the big house. My Gran never forgave the toffs that sent her into servitude and her Father off to his death and neither can I. It might seem a little disproportionate bearing in mind the passage of time but they would do the same tomorrow to save their own skins.

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