I begin this post in the aftermath of seeing a short albeit very provocative video on Facebook about how Remembrance Day, the Poppy Appeal, and the Royal British Legion are racist and should be banned/disbanded. I was going to post something else today, but this definitely takes precedence.
First of all, I’ll go into a brief background of Remembrance Day. You have probably been living under a rock if you aren’t aware that World War One came to an official end on 11th November 1918 at 11:00am (unofficially, it went on longer). The conflict lasted for over four years with an approximate death toll of sixteen million people (military and civilian). Every year, at 11:00am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a two-minute silence is held in commemoration of those who died during that war and a poppy is often worn as a mark of respect. All proceeds from the sale of poppies go to the Royal British Legion, a charity for assisting veterans. This year marks the centenary of the end of the conflict.
In all honesty, I wear a poppy to respect the fact that many men and women laid down their lives for future generations more than for the funding of veterans. I have no shame in saying that I’m not massively supportive of the military. That’s my standpoint and I have no wish to go further into the reasons for it as that isn’t what this article is about. Remembering those who died during both World Wars and paying my respects is important to me. It’s important to most British people.
In recent years, a movement appears to have reared its head, which is gathering momentum and a louder voice with each passing Remembrance Day. There are people out there who believe that Remembrance Day, the effigy of the poppy, the Royal British Legion, and everything connected with remembering 11/11/11 is racist and promotes white supremacy. It’s reached the point where protests are taking place and poppies are being burned by those opposed to the event.
At this stage, I haven’t received any responses to my Facebook page and Twitter posts, so I’ll leave the post here to see what feedback I receive. I’m a diplomatic person after all. If there’s compelling enough evidence to suggest that Remembrance Day is in fact racist then I’ll hold my hands up and admit that it is…
(Several hours later)
So, I left the message out there all day for people to respond to and only one person responded as to how they think Remembrance Day might be construed as racist. Her point was that such events where patriotism plays a role, like international football matches, often get “hijacked by racists who feel that Britain is superior to other countries”.
I don’t fully agree with that statement. I don’t think patriotism is a prerequisite to racism at all. A person doesn’t necessarily need to be a patriot in order to be a racist. I can appreciate where she’s coming from. I think she’s talking along the lines of the English Defence League and other such far right conglomerates of idiots; however, I would wager that at least half the people comprising things like the EDL are no more patriotic than I am (I’m not patriotic at all). I think they simply hate anyone who isn’t white and British. It’s got nothing to do with love for their country, they just don’t like foreigners, blacks, Muslims, etc.
Moving past that, I turned to Google, something I didn’t wish to do, but was left without much of a choice. All of the top articles were from newspapers. I got through a few articles before I had to give up because I despise how left- or right-wing newspapers are. Furthermore, all the articles appeared to have been written by white Englishmen.
What I wanted was evidence from someone who either wasn’t white or wasn’t British to explain why the poppy is a racist symbol and why the Royal British Legion should be disbanded. Unfortunately, all I have to go off is the video mentioned at the start of this post. Labour activist, Aaron Bastani, was the man spitting all the diatribe about Remembrance Day in it. He’s received quite some backlash for his comments too.
I can’t really add much more to what I’ve already said as to how Remembrance Day can be construed as racist. According to Bastani, the poppy is a symbol of white supremacy. He also slated the Invictus Games as being a weird PR exercise for the Royal Family.
I’ll never tell a person that their opinion is wrong. At the end of the day, if Bastani thinks these things then that’s entirely his prerogative. Anyone else who agrees with him are entitled to do so.
That said, sometimes you hear an opinion and the only words that come to mind are “Shut the f**k up you absolute t**t!”. I respect Bastani’s right to believe what he wishes and to express his opinion. It’s my opinion that Bastani is a provocative d***head! It’s my opinion that anyone who sees the red poppy as a racist sign of white supremacy that glamorises war is a deluded d***head!
The red poppy is not even slightly racist! It’s a mark of respect. It’s to show that we will never forget the sacrifice those people made during WWI and WWII. I don’t care what the wars were for and what hidden agendas were going on. I care about the fact that people, brave people, died fighting against something they perceived to be a threat to our way of life back then. For me, it’s all about those people, not the wars. Tell me; what’s racist or white supremacist about my reason for wearing a poppy and observing two minutes silence on 11th November every year?
I absolutely refuse to be labelled anything negative for opting to remember the dead on that day. If anyone were to step up to me and tell me I was a racist for wearing the poppy, I’d demand they tell me exactly why they believe that! If they question why I don’t wear a white poppy to remember all of the dead on every other day of the year, I’d tell them to stop being so damned pedantic! If I was labelled a white supremacist, I’d give them a blow by blow account of just how many advantages being an average, white man has afforded me throughout my life.
I haven’t got time for the far left pushing their delirious agendas and minority-favouring ideals (they call that equality; I call that giving certain people advantages over others). I haven’t got time for the far right hating everything that doesn’t look or act like them. I just want to have the right and the freedom to think what I what I want to think, believe what I want to believe, and express myself in whatever way I choose to express myself.
To those who are racist and/or white supremacists and use Remembrance Day to antagonise people of other creeds, colours, and faiths: shame on you! You don’t deserve to wear the poppy. You besmirch the people for whom it represents and they’d be mortally ashamed of you, as am I.
To those who are lobbying to get Remembrance Day, poppies, and the Royal British Legion done away with: give up because you will never stop people paying their respects. You might as well try plaiting sawdust! Move your sights onto one of your other freedom-inhibiting, virtue-signalling gripes.
Finally, to those who think it’s acceptable to burn the effigy of the poppy in an effort to make your point: you are scum! The fact I breathe the same air as you makes me feel sick. How dare you! As much as I dislike the far right, I agree with one of their sentiments where you lot are concerned: if you don’t like how things work in this country then get out! You’re neither needed nor wanted!
A popular saying from a Wilfred Owen poem, penned sometime in 1917, often gets quoted at this time of year: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”. I think it’s often misquoted by some. Owen wasn’t saying “It is sweet and honourable to die for one’s country”. The poem was actually talking about the horrors of war and how it was anything but sweet and honourable to die for one’s country. I agree with that sentiment, but irrespective of the reason those people died between 1914 and 1918, and then 1939 and 1945, one thing remains absolutely concrete: we will remember them!