British Legion Poppies

We're coming up to the Poppy season soon. Whats the views of Dissensians on this? Am I alone in thinking that the British Legions' talk about "the suffering of war" aside, wearing a poppy is tantamount to showing support for all millitary policy, and forgiving/approving of the many hundred thousand plus innocent people killed by the armed forces over a century or so.

How do people in mainland Britain feel about criticisms of poppy wearing, is it a case of contempt for anyone who questions the tradition? Its a bit more complex in Northern Ireland as few Catholics wear them (despite presumably a sizeable number of Catholics serving in both world wars), but to my knowledge this isnt a major source of community friction. But I do wonder whether the BBC would go to the lengths of sacking high profile stars like Johnathon Ross if they chose not to wear one on air. this is touched upon slightly here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/global/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/global/2006/11/10/npoppy10.xml

And whats the reaction to poppies from Germans, or are they not well known there
 
These have been around for decades havent they, and yet probably never took off. I've never seen one, though they could be more common in certain areas than others
 

john eden

male pale and stale
People wear them for different reasons. A large number of people who are still very much alive lost friends and relatives in WW2 and wear a poppy to remember them, I think. ("Remembrance Sunday" etc - it's not about cheering on victory but a quiet reflection on the dead, to my mind)

It also invokes tacit support for WW!/WW2, and war in general I guess. Which I why I won't wear one, but I think you have to recognise that it's very hard to disentangle people's emotions and lived experiences from a political analysis of war, military action, etc.

For example my Mum lost her Dad in the war when she was very young and obviously would like to believe that he died for a good cause (as would I). So whilst not wearing a poppy is seen as a bit disrespectful/forgetful, actually attacking poppies as a symbol of imperialist aggression / capitalist slaughter is a step too far for most people - like protesting at a funeral.
 
my main problem with it is that few people seem to question the actions of the military. Hence loads of people nowadays blame the government for what they see as an unjust war in Iraq, yet see the army actually doing the fighting as 'caught up in events not of their making', practically absolving them of blame.

I know the British Legion stresses that they are not giving outright support for past wars, but I dont see the general public picking up on this too much, and I think this is potentially dangerous. For many becoming a soldier is an acceptable 'job'. I fail to see any point to the First World War, but it seems that remembering it in this way is inadvertantly portraying it as regrettable, albeit 'acceptable'. This doesnt bode well for the future, as it implies to me that come World War 3 or whatever, too many people will be keen to join up cos they have a rosetinted view of what war is really like.
 

bassnation

the abyss
It also invokes tacit support for WW!/WW2, and war in general I guess. Which I why I won't wear one, but I think you have to recognise that it's very hard to disentangle people's emotions and lived experiences from a political analysis of war, military action, etc.

well, regarding wII obviously we helped create the conditions that brought about that war - but i don't think it was wrong for us to fight it. complex issues, but i'm not a pacifist where things like fascism are concerned, didn't think you were either?
 

bassnation

the abyss
my main problem with it is that few people seem to question the actions of the military. Hence loads of people nowadays blame the government for what they see as an unjust war in Iraq, yet see the army actually doing the fighting as 'caught up in events not of their making', practically absolving them of blame.

i can see where you are coming from here, and i partly agree - but you have to remember that up until blairs "one war per year" strategy, the british army were more likely to be peace-keeping than fighting. it shouldn't be forgotten that these people are pawns in bigger plans and despite not absolving soldiers of any blame, lets make the right people take responsibility - which hasn't happened so far.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
well, regarding wII obviously we helped create the conditions that brought about that war - but i don't think it was wrong for us to fight it. complex issues, but i'm not a pacifist where things like fascism are concerned, didn't think you were either?

This is the entire problem in a nutshell basically. It's like you return home to find that everyone else in your neighbourhood has gone mental and wrecked the place. At that particular point in time the only issue is "how do I clear up?" but the wider issue is "how the fuck did this happen?". The conditions which lead to the incident are treated as inevitable/natural so there is only a small "frame" which it is seen through.

And no, I'm not really a pacifist at all really - I'd be more likely to wear a red poppy than a white one I think.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
my main problem with it is that few people seem to question the actions of the military. Hence loads of people nowadays blame the government for what they see as an unjust war in Iraq, yet see the army actually doing the fighting as 'caught up in events not of their making', practically absolving them of blame.

I know the British Legion stresses that they are not giving outright support for past wars, but I dont see the general public picking up on this too much, and I think this is potentially dangerous. For many becoming a soldier is an acceptable 'job'. I fail to see any point to the First World War, but it seems that remembering it in this way is inadvertantly portraying it as regrettable, albeit 'acceptable'. This doesnt bode well for the future, as it implies to me that come World War 3 or whatever, too many people will be keen to join up cos they have a rosetinted view of what war is really like.

I think, as bassnation says, it's fine to let ordinary soldiers off the hook really, unless they have participated in something completely beyond the pale. They have very often come from situations where they have had very limited choices (a few people I've met have grown up in situations where the army was the best way to escape from a life of dole and heroin) and have then had their free will systematically removed from them by their training.

Perhaps they have a rosetinted view about their "career" because of their limited options and because of the vast amounts of tax payers money which is ploughed into PR campaigns for a career in the army. When I was growing up most large size towns had full time Army Recruitment offices, and impressive displays at schools, tv adverts etc. I doubt that has changed.

Those higher up obviously get less sympathy - as usual.

What is remarkable is that despite all this soldiers still mutiny, or come back with massive resentment towards their officers and/or treatment.

This is quite interesting:
http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/lobby/3909/olivedrab/index.html
 

mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
I wore a white feather on Poppy day once ( in London ) and got spat on by a pensioner. True. I was very shocked by the reaction - I got more hassle on the streets for that than having flourescent red hair or wearing full Freemasons garb on a march, so much that I wouldn't again, but I'd like to see it being taken up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_feather
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I suppose people have touched on it already in this thread but I think it's the case that while there's no such thing as a 'good' war per se, it can sometimes be better to fight a war than not to; by far the most obvious example being WWII. And while many men (and boys) gladly signed up to fight in WWI out of a combination of patriotic jingoism, a chance to escape working class drudgery and probably sheer ignorance as to what war really entailed, I think there was a real sense in the next war later that this wasn't just another scrap between old European rivals of the sort that had happened since the middle ages but an almost Biblical clash of Good and Evil. I mean, it's easy to get misty-eyed and talk about the Great Sacrifice that was made, but the alternative just doesn't bear thinking about. It was a great sacrifice, it seems churlish to me to try to deny that, and I have a huge respect for the people who were a part of that struggle.

I think you can show support for servicemen who fought in a noble cause (ha, how often do you hear wars called that these days?) without necessarily being seen to endorse or forgive all wars, no matter how stupid or unethical.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
No-one has mentioned that in world war one and two there was conscription so an awful lot of soldiers had (virtually) no choice but to fight. There certainly ought to be some way to remember them and other conscripted soldiers even in cases where you consider the war to be unjust as they are surely victims.

"You can wear a white poppy which symbolises pacifist remembrance of the war dead."
I've certainly never seen anyone wear one. I wonder what would happen if someone wore one on the bbc or whatever - definitely some kind of outcry. Probably the press equivalent to this I guess:

"I wore a white feather on Poppy day once ( in London ) and got spat on by a pensioner"
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
Wearing poppies is basically racism. In essence it says: It is more acceptable for Anglo-Saxons to invade other countries than for other countries to invade the Anglo-Saxons. Not surprisingly, only conservatives and the right wears poppies in my experience.
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
had happened since the middle ages but an almost Biblical clash of Good and Evil.

Since that war ( in its european incarnation) was against Stalin, the worst mass murder the world has seen, and against the european colonialising powers (in asia), this is a very anglo-centric world-view.
 

crackerjack

Well-known member
Wearing poppies is basically racism.

No it isn't. I've no doubt in your heart you know this already. But if you want to look silly pretending otherwise, an anonymous message board is probably the best place for it.
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
No it isn't. I've no doubt in your heart you know this already.

Why would anyone want to remember people who, quite willingly by and large, fought for an anglo-saxon supremacist regime? It is quite clear that the main impulse structuring the UKs involvement and its choice of allies in the WWs was the desire to maintain its empire. It is also quite clear that neither war would have happened at all or at least in the form it did without this.

Why/how could any serious student of history ignore this? I guess conformity with public opinion (produced by apologists of colonialism) is convenient.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Since that war ( in its european incarnation) was against Stalin, the worst mass murder the world has seen, and against the european colonialising powers (in asia), this is a very anglo-centric world-view.

That's why I said it WAS SEEN as a clash of that sort, IN BRITAIN, by British people.
The title of this thread, in case you've forgotten, is 'British Legion Poppies'; the whole point of them is to comemmorate British war dead and help the families of British servicemen. It's not "racist" at all, as you knee-jerkingly brand it; I'm sure other countries have similar appeals for their own servicemen.
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
That's why I said it WAS SEEN as a clash of that sort, IN BRITAIN, by British people.
The title of this thread, in case you've forgotten, is 'British Legion Poppies'; the whole point of them is to comemmorate British war dead and help the families of British servicemen.

Can you not see that 'remembering' (whitewashing would be a better term) only the bitish war dead is a deeply problematic move? Especially when these 'servicemen' did a lot of things they should not have done?

Moreover, it legitimises the british army when it is currently doing things in Irak it really should not be doing.
 
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