Today is Armistice Day, and I will wear my poppy. But it’s none of my business what other people do
expecting the people of Aleppo to commemorate the Somme, or any of the other charnel houses of Western Europe.
Every country has its own history and every country’s history is grim. But it is their history and they should be allowed to mark solemn events in whatever way they see fit without feeling morally blackmailed into shoehorning every global war into the mix.
But, much as it pains me to admit, I also agree with Fisk about the ridiculous ubiquity of the poppy on TV.
Channel 4’s Jon Snow was the most high-profile presenter to buck the poppy trend and he received absolute dog’s abuse for his decision. Apparently, he hated the UK. He was a traitor. He was showing contempt for the people who gave up their lives so he could be a selfish Lefty Quisling.
Frankly, the hysteria around Snow became so bonkers I was waiting for people to demand he show his birth cert to prove he wasn’t a Muslim sleeper agent.
The problem with the poppy is that it means different things to different people.
The people I know who wear one (I have a shamrock poppy but I don’t really want to wear it now, in case it looks like I’m taking fashion tips from Leo) are predominantly working-class Dubs who come from areas which supplied a large portion of the 200,000 Irish people who fought in the Great War — and there’s not a West Brit amongst them.
They don’t get annoyed when someone doesn’t wear one because they are adults who understand that individuals have to make their own choices.
That’s why we should all have such admiration for James McLean — regardless of whether you agree with his decision. Every year he receives death threats off the pitch and coins thrown at him when on it. He regularly tops polls of the most hated footballers in England as a result, but he’s not going to change his stance anytime soon and should be applauded for his honourable defiance.
The poppy comes with plenty of excess baggage in the North, and no reasonable person should condemn someone from Derry choosing not to wear it.
Most of those who don’t wear one make that choice because they simply don’t really care and that is perfectly fine — in a free society you have the right to pick and choose what you care about and nobody has the right to demand otherwise.
This is where the hardliners get it so wrong. Both camps don’t just think they are right, they also feel morally superior to the opposing side and that’s why opinions aren’t easily swayed.
Today is Armistice Day, and I will wear my poppy. But it’s none of my business what other people do.
It really is that simple — wear it with pride if you want, or don’t wear it at all. But don’t let the bullies make that choice for you.