Poppy Politics

A few years ago, I went on record as saying that I rarely to never wore a poppy on Remembrance Day (a personal belief I admitted was the scariest thing I’d ever talked about on my blog because the poppy is so sacrosanct in our culture.)

I observed that I tend to avoid the poppy for a few different reasons – my belief that there are too many causes deserving support and if you support one, you should support them all,  my personal feelings towards war (and its glorification in any form – anyone else notice that the day has shifted from “Never Again” to “Hey, them boys in Afghanistan are defending our  FREEDUM!”) and lastly, my resistance to anything that smacks of mass conformity of any kind. (Er, Go Riders Go this weekend!)

I may have been ahead of the curve.   This year I’ve noticed a real trend in the number of articles about people resisting the politics of the poppy for all manner of reasons – both the ones I mentioned above and more.

Even something that appears so clear cut is rarely black and white.  I’ll leave with the status update a friend posted on Facebook on Remembrance Day:

“Mixed feelings about Remembrance Day. The Japanese side of my family was put in an internment camp during WWII. My Grandfather on the white side served in the military. I feel so lucky to be Canadian and to have all the freedoms that I do. I also have complicated feelings about Canadian peacekeeping, and peacemaking. It’s not black and white.”

Comments 1

  1. Heather wrote:

    Personally, I like the new poppies that the Nova Scotia art students have designed from paper with poppy seeds in it. Compostable and plantable.

    The article you linked to purports to use hindsight to judge WWI and WWII. I recall my younger brother similarly pontificating to elderly relatives about what WWII was REALLY about. You can imagine the pain that resulted. We were looking at an old black and white photo of a raw mound of earth with very thin children gathered around. The mound of earth was the grave of one relative, killed during the liberation of Holland. The children, malnourished from the occupation, were from the Dutch family who vowed to care for that grave, and whose descendants continue to do so, generations after the event. Apparently all those old survivors and nonsurvivors had been duped, but 30 yr. olds like my brother and the article writer know better.

    I think that we can recall the sacrifices AND the dreadful lashing out in interring Japanese Canadians, refusing to take Jewish refugees in, or treating all Muslims as potential extremists. One doesn’t have to cancel out the other.

    I have total respect for people who don’t agree with the poppy, and people who challenge the hyper-masculine path of military culture — I’ve taught courses where the students look at public space such as any public war memorial to see which official narrative gets selected and told, and all the narratives that get left out. But those who make the sorts of assumptions about their superior understanding of past and current events that the article writer makes — that pontificating tone really makes me grind my teeth.

    Posted 12 Nov 2010 at 8:27 pm

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