To­day is Armistice Day, and I will wear my poppy. But it’s none of my busi­ness what other peo­ple do

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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