That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

The war on poppies

Dismayed but unsurprised to read another example of the Royal Canadian Legion attacking the distribution of white poppies. It cuts into their fundraising, and more importantly for them, it cuts into their desired philosophical monopoly on how we are supposed to reflect on war.

PEI’s Legion boss Jim Ross says of the white poppy campaign:

“To denigrate a symbol of the remembrance of people who died for this country certainly is emotional.”

The Legion are now threatening to sue the White Poppy campaign – for what, a breach of trademark? Maybe I’ve forgotten what Remembrance Day is all about, but I didn’t think it was about petty sectarian battles against people in the community who grieve the fallen in a different way.

The white poppy has been in manufacture and distribution since the 1920s. Now distributed by Quakers (those nasty Quakers!) and Whitepoppy.org in the UK, the British Co-operative Women’s Guild had originally launched it as a pacifist symbol – not as a means to “denigrate” their husbands or their own families lost in war, but to (and this is where I thought Remembrance Day was rooted all along) always keep close to heart the horrors of war, and to protest diligently against any leader who might trivialise the horrors of war through hasty eagerness to employ it.

The red poppy, originally launched as a fundraising tool for veterans of the First World War, has its place in 1) filling the gap in the state’s woeful absence in caring adequately for the soldiers it’s sent out to war in the first place, and 2) to honour their service and remember its magnitude. That is all good. There is no opposition presented by a white poppy, which laments lives lost in conflict and wishes for a future free from war. I’m certain the majority of veterans wouldn’t disagree with those sentiments.

But the Legion, along with a lot of people confused in a fog of patriotism, see the white poppy as a meanspirited affront to their own remembrance sentiments. It isn’t. We have to be clear that disagreeing with war is not the same thing as wishing our own troops dead. It’s wishing that no more should die.

So, if you can get a hold of one, please do! There’s a Facebook page about it, and while you can certainly get white poppies from here, there may be local distributors near you as well. The Facebook page folks will probably know more.


Filed under: Canada, International, Politics, UK, , , ,

One Response

  1. Mar Martinez says:

    Great article, and I totally agree with you! The whole “resistance” and campaign to turn people away from the white poppies and the concept of a culture of peace is mind boggling.
    I find Jim Ross’ comments very very sad…and sort of intimidating; are we supposed to agree with war, or else??
    Denigrate a symbol? HOW? Since when is Peace, working for Peace, and remembering all victims of war, degrading?

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