No More Poppies

Over the years I have written quite a few pieces on this blog, around the time of Remembrance Sunday, about the wearing of a poppy, the last being in 2016. I have worn a poppy at this time of year for most of my adult life, but in 2017 I decided to stop.

For one thing, there is no pressure to wear a poppy here in Ireland. Indeed, many Irish people see the poppy mainly as a symbol of British militarism and colonial oppression. At a concert to mark the Armistice last year I saw only a few audience members wearing a poppy, and most of them were the shamrock version commemorating the sacrifice of Irish soldiers during the Great War.

But I don’t think I’ve ever really been that susceptible to peer pressure, so that’s not the main reason for my not wearing a poppy. The main reason is that over the past couple of years the poppy has been appropriated by the likes of racist thug, career criminal and founder-member of the EDL, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (also known as Tommy Robinson):

I simply cannot bring myself to wear the same badge as this horrible racist gobshite, nor can I stand the hypocrisy of those politicians who make a show of wearing it while happily encouraging the rise of nationalism that caused all the suffering just a century ago. The message of the poppy is supposed to be `Lest We Forget’. I’m afraid far too many have already forgotten.

I have a lecture on Monday 11th November at 11am, when the traditional two minutes’ silence to mark the 1918 armistice is observed. Fortunately, lectures at Maynooth run from five past the hour until five to, so I will be able to observe this on my own before I start the lecture. But I won’t be wearing a poppy.

Is it disrespectful to the war dead to refuse to wear a poppy? No, of course it isn’t. What is disrespectful to them is to seek to reoeat the mistakes that led to wars in the first place.

3 Responses to “No More Poppies”

  1. I have experienced similar mixed feelings about the poppy. I am so put off by the bullying-type hysteria that surrounds wearing the poppy (So-and-so-presenter wasn’t wearing a poppy, that shows such disrespect, he must be sacked, etc) that I haven’ worn one for quite a while. Yet I know that the British Legion do fantastic work supporting ex-servicemen. I once spoke to a guy in a soup kitchen who was a veteran who said the British Legion had helped him massively when he was struggling with life, whereas the Army did b*gger all. So I compromise by giving them money but not wearing the red poppy.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Given your views, the choice you faced is honourable either way, but I don’t agree that “Tommy Robinson” has “appropriated” the poppy and its symbolism; he is simply not big enough to do that.

  3. If I was better at googling I’d paste in some lines from Martin Bell’s Reason for Refusal here, but alas …

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