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THE WHITE POPPY

By David Vance On November 4th, 2011

I was contacted today by the media and asked my opinion of the “white poppy”. There’s a possibility I may be on national TV this Sunday debating the issue BUT regardless of that, I wanted to put on record HERE my view of this wretched flower. It is the symbol of pacifists and does dishonour to all who wear it.

John Stuart Mill observed;

 “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing is worth a war, is worse.”

And…

“A man who cares more about his personal safety than anything else is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Amen to that.

Of course all civilised people abhor war, we know it IS hell, but we also know, sadly, that sometimes it is the only option.

Those brave men and women who gave their lives for our liberty DESERVE to have that sacrificed honoured by the wearing of a RED Poppy.

24 Responses to “THE WHITE POPPY”

  1. ““A man who cares more about his personal safety than anything else is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

    A white feather would be more appropriate, in this day and age.

  2. The White Poppy seems absurd to me.

  3. “This wretched flower”

    That’s a bit harsh David, isn’t it?

    The fact of the matter is that the red poppy has become a politicised symbol in our part of the world. Some undoubtedly will attempt to argue this point but it still won’t change that fact. Now, while I have strong reservations about WWI I have nothing but respect for those of any uniform that stood against the greatest evil of the twentieth century in WWII. That includes the Polish air pilots who beat the Luftwaffe out of the skies in the Battle of Britain, the Red Army who arguably won WWII on the eastern front and the French, Greek and Italian partisans who antagonised the Nazis by what the Nazis called terrorism. The red poppy is not a reminder of these brave souls but solely of the British Army’s contribution in war.

    I will never wear a red poppy because the present beneficiaries of the monies its sale accrues are the same people who murdered my neighbours in Ballymurphy in 1971 and the innocent of Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

    The red poppy is not a nuetral symbol and to try to suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous whereas a white poppy has the potential to be nuetral.

  4. Whether a white poppy or some other peace symbol, context and the age comes into it. If we had lived through a couple of decades of peace they probably wouldn’t arise. As it is, after Iraq and a decade into Afghanistanm the ruling elite is still looking for more war.

    Perhaps also it’s a reflection of the clear desperation that elite is for war.

    I wouldn’t wholly chuck it back at them, not when we read of the 21 year old who joined the Army in February and was shot dead in Afghanistan yesterday. It’s indescribably sad, and for what? Nothing, nothing at all, it’s completely senseless but the people who sent him and thousands like him there can’t bring themselves to admit it was a terrible blunder.

  5. The White Poppy was created by the Peace Pledge Union, which was initially a pacifist organisation but during the 1930s became more and more an group that were outright apologists for Nazi Germany, something which continued throughout World War 2.

    It is a symbol of moral dwarfism.

  6. I was contacted today by the media and asked my opinion of the “white poppy”.

    Media Person 1: We need someone to whine about the White Poppy, where’s that “Rent-a-quote” list?

    Media Person 2: We don’t have one.

    Media Person 1: But what do you do whenever you need someone to complain no matter what the subject?

    Media Person 2: I have David Vance on speed dial.

  7. Whether a white poppy or some other peace symbol, context and the age comes into it. If we had lived through a couple of decades of peace they probably wouldn’t arise. As it is, after Iraq and a decade into Afghanistanm the ruling elite is still looking for more war.

    Exactly. And they have many supporters in this parish. Neocons all.

  8. “The red poppy is not a nuetral symbol and to try to suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous whereas a white poppy has the potential to be nuetral.”
    ‘Course it’s a bloody neutral symbol Paul! It is both a national symbol and a personal symbol that applies to all who lost their lives in the two World wars. I don’t know what it means to Polish or Indian families who lost relatives in those conflicts: only what it means to us today.
    A white poopy in this context is meaningless because blood was shed in order to preserve freedom, so red it is. When I attend Remembrance services, I’m thinking of the loss of life and what they went through. Nothing more, nothing less.

  9. Fews

    By “complain” you mean posit an alternative to the homogenous tripe you trot out with supreme lack of self awareness.

  10. “Only what it means to us today”

    You’ve just proved my point about it being particular to a certain group Agi.

    The profits accrued from the sale of the poppy go exclusively to British Army vetrans no one else. That’s why it’s not nuetral.

    Besides, why do you need to wear a symbol to think about loss of life?

  11. The Poppy has only been politicised by republicans who hate all things British, if they don’t want to wear one fair enough but let those of us that do wear them do so without abuse.

  12. Are you suggesting that I hate all things British Turk? If so I suggest that you look at the beautiful, ornate language that we are communicating in.

    I also don’t believe that I’m abusing anyone.

  13. I never ever thought i would see this day but i (sort of) agree with Paul.
    The Red Poppy is the symbol of the British Legion. Proceeds from the sale of them go to that organisation. None go to charities for the many foreign nationals who gave there lives for the allied cause. Although i would suspect that each individual country has their own ways of commemorating war dead and injured.

    Unfortunately the wearing of one is (like many other thing i.e. St.Patrick’s Day) being used by Republicans as a pathetic demonstration of their hatred towards anything that can remotely be called British.

    Personally i don’t have a problem with those who choose to wear a White Poppy. Just as long as they have made an appropriate donation to a suitable Charity to pay for it?

  14. (Is) “being used by Republicans as a pathetic demonstration of their hatred towards anything that can remotely be called British”

    I don’t believe that to be true JM, as my comment above illustrates. I certainly don’t hate all things British.

    But your comment does prove my point that the poppy is not a nuetral symbol.

  15. @Paul

    ‘Not neutral’ isn’t really the point i was trying to make?
    I don’t think the Red Poppy is trying to be neutral? It is what it is. It doesn’t commemorate ALL allied victims of war but it doesn’t pretend to do so. As someone with a Czech background i fell slightly ‘miffed’ that it fails to recognise the sacrifice my forefathers homeland made. Or maybe it does? It’s late and i’m tired 🙂

    Perhaps my other point would have been better as ‘some Republicans’.

  16. I’m not sure the point that you were trying to make JM if it’s “hate everything British” then I believe that I dealt with that in my 12.58 to Turk.

    My point is the exclusivity of the poppy. Agi argues that the poppy is nuetral at 10.25 whereas Turk’s 12.54 comment is an admission that it is a British symbol.

    The reason that I will never wear a red poppy are clearly explained at 8.44- If there was a more inclusive symbol to remember ALL who stood against the Nazis with its profits going to an equally distributed international fund for WWII vetrans I would have absolutely no problem wearing it.

  17. Paul,
    as I understand it you are in the legal profession, a family man with x number of daughters, and you have experienced family loss/murder at the hands of the British Government.
    I am simply saying that as an Englishman with tenuous Irish connections, but a real father who served in the Royal Navy (pre Ipod) and nephew to dead uncles who served in the First World War, the conflict between us and Irish aspirations is furthest from my mind.
    There are many Irishmen and women who actually made their way to England and found it was not the turrible place they had tought it would be. Indeed, many prominent figures have their roots in Ould Ireland. We remember their sacrifice in two World Wars as much as any other.

    The shame surely is that only the British/English chose to commerorate it…

  18. ‘The shame surely is that only the British/English chose to commerorate it…’

    Well said, and very true. Other countries do have their own ways of rememberance, but nothing quite like ours. We do it ‘our way’ – and others are welcome to do it their way.

    Paul’s attempt at belittling Great Britain’s role in the Battle of Britain and in WWII, is no more than a excuse for his personal bitterness. It isn’t the first time I have seen him make this quite factual, but nonetheless, spitefully intended comment.

    None were forced to join the Allies, and of those that did, some joined us out of loyalty to the Commonwealth, e.g. Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and many others.

    Then there were those who joined out of their own self interest, e.g. the Russians, Polish, Greeks, and the partisans of any of the occupied countries.

    Of course the more ‘Fronts’ that were opened made winning the war an impossibility for the Germans. We – the British, – have always acknowledged their contribution to the war effort.

    As I said earlier, – we remember in our own fashion i.e. as a nation. Others do it their way, and whatever emblem they choose, it is their choice.

    After the sacrifice of WWI did we have any other choice of emblem other than the red poppy? – the perfect symbol for so much blood spilt on the fields of Flanders.
    ——–
    by John McCrae, May 1915

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    —-

  19. Paul’s attempt at belittling Great Britain’s role in the Battle of Britain and in WWII, is no more than a excuse for his personal bitterness

    Perhaps you illustrate where in his posts you believe Paul does this Ernest?

  20. Hopping the Border,

    ‘That includes the Polish air pilots who beat the Luftwaffe out of the skies in the Battle of Britain, the Red Army who arguably won WWII on the eastern front and the French, Greek and Italian partisans who antagonised the Nazis by what the Nazis called terrorism..

    Perhaps its the style of writing that betrays the intention. “the Polish air pilots who beat the Luftwaffe’ – they certainly didn’t do it on their own, and definitely would never have done it if left to their own devices, nor without the leadership of the British.

    That the RAF at that time may have looked very similar to the International Brigade of the Spanish Civil war, is quite coincidental, it was the Briish air force that fought the Battle of Britain

    Likewise for those ‘brave partisans’, who it might be argued had allegiance, more for communism than the freedom of their own countries, – certainly true in both France and Greece.

    They didn’t care who they were fighting with, as long as it was against the Germans, the avowed enemy of Russia and communism. Along the lines of – ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

    Given the above, I would heartily agree that we would not have been successful without their help, but the cut and paste repetition of the above quote, and it isn’t the first time he has used it, rather smacks of the ‘petty’, if not the bitter. Could it be that he sees the small part that Ireland played in WWII and is perhaps embarrassd?

    I’m sure we have said thank you to our Allies often, and frequently enough and in very practical ways, to be allowed our own commemoration ritual on this one occasion each year. No-one has said they cannot do the same, and they are very welcome to join us in saying ‘Thank you!’, but it seems they would rather snip and snipe at us, than do something ‘off their own bats’ – for a change…

  21. Of course Irish people have fought for Britain and lived there Agi. My maternal grandfather fought with the Royal Navy in WWII and had two uncles in the British Army. I myself lived in London in the mid eighties.

    No of these mitigate the fact that I will never wear a red poppy because, as explained above, I refuse to donate to British Army conflict vetrans by contributing to such an exclusive symbol.

    Besides, the youngest WWII vetran would be 83 years old now in a few years there will be no WWII vetrans to care for.

    No offense Ernest but you’re talking absolute spheres. There was no spite or bitterness intended but if that’s how you choose to interpret it then that’s your business.The reason that I mention the Polish air force’s role in the Battle of Britain is that in between the Spitfires and the RAF the heroism of the Poles is largely omitted.

    It’s also interesting that you question the motives of those partisans who terrorised the Nazis. Of course it had nothing to do with the Nazis occupying their countries and who can forget the breathtaking speed that France, Italy and Greece rushed to join the Soviet bloc in the wake of WWII.

    As to Ireland’s role in WWII I personally think that they should have got involved, certainly after 1943 when the ‘Final Solution’ became apparent. But what’s done is done and I certainly feel no personal embarrassment at what they did or didn’t do however I do find it curious that RAF pilots downed over Ireland continuouslly seemed to find themselves “straying” over the border and somehow British submarines going to and from the north Atlantic seemed to frequently stop at Ballyshannon port in Co Donegal.

    It is also telling that you mention the Spanish Civil War, the dry run for the main fascist onslaught in 1939. Where was the nobility of the allied powers then when every country with exception of Russia and Mexico disgraced themselves by placing an arms embargo of those wishing to defend the Republic from fascist dictatorship? But I s’pose that, like those partasans that you mention, they were just a bunch of commies anyway eh?

    “They are very welcome to join us in saying ‘Thank you!’, but it seems they would rather snip and snipe at us, than do something ‘off their own bats’ – for a change”

    I don’t need to wear a bit of paper to thank all those that stood against the greatest evil of the twentieth century and I’m certainly not going to contribute to a benefit fund for those that murdered the innocent in Ballymurphy in 1971 and Derry in 1972 so, if it’s all the same to you, I’ll decline the invatation.

  22. Paul,
    You’re quite right
    “I don’t need to wear a bit of paper to thank all those that stood against the greatest evil of the twentieth century”
    you don’t. But there are things we do as individuals then others we do as a part of something. A community or society, or even a nation. For example I don’t have to get dressewd up in a suit to attend the Remembrance Service, but out of respect for all the fallen I will.
    I think I can understand a little bit how you feel about this, but you’re not doing it for the British Legion, you’re doing it for those whose memory you treasure and those who died.

  23. “But you’re not doing it for the British Legion, you’re doing it for those whose memory you treasure and those who died”

    I disagree Agi. As I said before if there was an international symbol of rememberance with an equally international distribution of it’s proceeds I would have no problem.

  24. Paul,

    You obviously only know part of the story – of the Battle of Britain, and the history and significance of the Red Poppy.

    Far from the Polish pilots being ignored for their efforts, there is a large, and very prominent war memorial on the Western Avenue, close by Northolt Airport, and guess what? – it is called the Polish War Memorial. They are unique in having their very own memorial in appreciation of their efforts.

    Perhaps you shouldn’t interpret Hollywood’s neglect to make a film with a Polish airman as a ‘star’, as being a sign of a general British lack of appreciation.

    I lived for many years in west London, in an area noted for its Polish residents, – mostly ex-servicemen, indeed I employed several of them, and I assure you they never mentioned any feeling of neglect in the appreciation stakes, and if they did the would be probably be too gentlemanly to mention it.

    As for the communist partisans. They were but a small part of the populations of the occupied countries, and post war, were never a significant political force, never enough to form a govenment, although I believe there were several that did get elected as MP’s on te communist ticket, just enough to raise the spectre of communism.

    None of the countries I mentioned had to ‘rush into the arms of communism’ to invalidate my assertation that many partisans had their own political agenda in mind, and thus had a double reason to make some ‘resistance’.

    As for my mention of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, I merely used it as an example of the multi-national similarity between it and the RAF at the time of the Battle of Britain, and I had no intention of starting a discussion on the merits of that episode. Perhaps later…

    As for the ‘bitterness’ – perhaps it is just the writing style, but it certainly conveyed tha impression. If I misjudged you – then I offer my apologies…

    As for your reasons for not wearing a poppy, – I have to say that I too have misgivings, albeit for different reasons than yours, about including the current NATO militia in the same category as the original recipients of British Legion largesse. Two very different and distinct types of warfare, and for very different reasons.

    To a degree, – perhaps only minimally, – it does devalue the meaning of the Red Poppy symbolism, and its north European connection, which for us of the ‘older generations’, is rather special, particularly as many of us have memories of close relatives that we knew and who are no longer with us.

    Our current militia has the excellent ‘Help for Heroes’ organisation, to care for them, and I see no reason to combine the two.