It’s November and once again we see via our televisions and media, the campaign for the British Poppy. The same tired stories are raised again ‘McClean refuses to wear one on his jersey’ the British tabloids cry the mantra of ‘our brave boys’ and stories of individual soldiers bravery and of course ‘duty’ are used to gloss over the actual realities of the wars that the British establishment claim to be mourning over.
Instead the Poppy becomes a jingoistic smokescreen, those who wear it are loyal to the state and those who abstain are brow beaten in an authoritarian form of fascism, suitable of an Orwellian novel.
In 1919, the British King, George, wore a red poppy to mark the armistice anniversary, that ended the first world war. This was the beginning of focusing on the ‘loss’ rather than the reasons of why the war had been fought. Over 18 million perished in a conflict that was in essence, a game of thrones between Europe’s elites. Imperialism fueled a savage conflict and the working class of the warring nations died in their millions. The refocusing of attention on the huge loss perpetrated on the working class by the ruling elite, is a clever ploy to hide their crimes and prevent the type of sentiments that led to the October Revolution in Russia.
Ireland of course is steeped in this era. During the first world war, many of the working class, led by Redmond. felt they could achieve Irish home rule by fighting for Britain. They went to Flanders and Gallipoli and died in their thousands, cannon fodder for the British establishment. Others who sought independence, hung out the flag of war over Dublin and struck out for an Irish Republic, in the now iconic rising of 1916. Those who died for Ireland at Easter 1916 and thereafter, are remembered with the Easter Lily, a symbol you won’t find on any news reporters. Those who fought for Irish Freedom and who have done so since, did under the harsh knowledge that they were David facing the British Goliath. They were ideologically motivated and knew exactly the reasons for going to war. The British Soldier on the other hand went to war on a wave of jingoism, fermented by establishment propaganda, disseminated via their press and radio, very few would have had a grasp of the intricacies of empire, that was being played out and it is highly unlikely they would have risked their lives, over what was essentially a family quarrel, between royals, had they understood the reasons for the war.
Today and numerous wars of empire later, Ireland remains unfree at the behest of British Imperialism. Today the Poppy is an endorsement for illegal wars in the middle east, there will be no mention of the civilians murdered in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, no mention of the theft of natural resources, the refugee crisis, the dead civilians and wrecked nations, or the lies of Blair, of Cameron, of May and of others, it won’t get a mention. Likewise the families of the Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy, dead with thousands of others who where affected by collusion, shoot to kill, plastic bullets and internment, they will be swamped by this symbol, celebrating the machine that killed their loved ones.
But in this climate of Poppy fascism, conscientious criticism is met with exaggerated outrage, Just ask James McClean or Jon Snow.