On Wearing the Poppy

By Char Shields - November 08, 2019

Remembrance Day is coming up and for a lot of us, this means our Facebook feeds are currently filled with “I don’t care if my poppy offends you!” posts. The poppy, which is worn to commemorate those who lost their lives in the world wars, has now become a symbol for right-wing propaganda.

The true meaning of the poppy is being taken away from those with fascist views. We’ve all seen them, and we all know at least one of them. They rant away on social media about how soldiers didn’t fight so you can express your modern views and, my personal favourite, so you can “just be all confused and change your gender.” News flash: that’s exactly what they fought for.

They fought for our freedom and the freedom to be whoever we want to be. They fought against the Nazis, who also held dangerous racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic views. I don’t think they would be too pleased to see that all their pain and suffering went to you justifying the very fascism that the Nazis stood for.

Claims that Muslims and the LGBT+ community are offended by the poppy is not only incorrect but very harmful. Muslims, Indians and gay men fought in the war for the UK and rarely by choice. The poppy is for them too and they have every right to be honoured. I’ve never even heard of a Muslim (who are the usual targets for this specific propaganda) express any offense over a poppy so I’m not even sure where that came from. (Oh wait, the English Defence League and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka 'Tommy Robinson' of course.)

This year, the fascists have something else to cling onto as the ‘rainbow poppy’ sparks even more hatred towards the LGBT+ community. The poppy in question, which is being sold on eBay, is supposed to be in memory for the LGBT+ soldiers. Many are up in arms about it and are using this to spread their dismay towards the community. Yet, the LGBT+ community don’t even want or care for the poppy. It’s unlikely it was even made by someone within the community.

Sure, there might be a few people out there who don’t like what the poppy stands for or just simply don’t care and will ignore the whole day altogether. But these people are no threat to anyone, and I can promise you they are an extremely thin majority.

Furthermore, I’m willing to bet that at least half of the people who share this propaganda don’t give a damn throughout the rest of the year. They won’t make any effort to help those who are affected by the war today. Most of those I’ve seen share these posts are Conservative voters – the very party who have made our veterans homeless and refuse to help them, and who have slashed the mental health care budget. These services are vital for veterans who are now suffering from mental health conditions such as PTSD due to the war.

So, yes, wear your poppy and have your two-minute silence – I’ll be doing the same. But stop using the dead to justify your backwards views. It is possible to just share the poppy without some strange poem about imaginary people who hate the poppy. In fact, the Royal British Legion have even said that you can wear your poppy however you want. They don’t care if there’s a rainbow on it or what side you wear it on – “The best way to wear a poppy is simply with pride.” It’s as simple as that. And if you’re that bothered by people who “don’t care” or show their appreciation then maybe it’s time to practice what you preach. Help today’s veterans and refuse to engage in the hate that gets spread along with the poppy. You can’t just shout and post about the poppy one month a year and then forget about it during the rest.

Honour everyone who’s fought and continues to fight in the government’s wars. Women, men, transgenders, heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, pansexuals, gender neutrals, blacks, whites, English, Indian, Muslim, etc. And honour the families who have lost their loved ones and who live in fear every single day.

To quote Hands Held High by Linkin Park: “In a rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.” And they didn’t die to be used in some foul Facebook propaganda post. 




Hands Held High, Linkin Park: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG4P3ayBzVY

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