Put em up or else…

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Prime Minister David Cameron wears a Royal British Legion poppy on the doorstep of Downing Street on October 27, 2010 in London, England. The annual Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal raises money to support members of the armed forces. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

Switch on your TV and you can’t miss it.  Since last week every presenter who inserts him or herself into the glass rectangle in the corner of our living-rooms has the crimson symbol pinned in place. It’s poppy-time again.

Our most famous poppy-wearer – and for a brief time, non-poppy-wearer – was/is of course Donna Traynor.  Thinking it was a woman’s right to choose, the BBC Northern Ireland presenter chose not to wear a poppy. It didn’t last long. Quiet management words were inserted in Donna’s ear and today the poppy is attached to her breast as to every other screen-visible BBC breast. It may not be always worn with pride but it’s worn without demur. Some say Donna was rescued from a false consciousness about the poppy; others that she was she told to either wear it or take a hike.

Some awful guff has been been written about people like her who dislike the idea of poppy-wearing. In the south,  the official line is that the state was guilty of a historic injustice by failing to honour those Irishmen who gave their lives in the two world wars and we must now do all we can to redress that.  In the north, unionist politicians like David McNarry tell us we owe a debt:

“Locally we also remember the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women of the Regular Army, the Ulster Defence Regiment, the RUC and PSNI who risked their lives to protect this community from anarchy and who are still engaged to this day in the fight against terrorism. Supporting the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and wearing the Poppy with Pride is a small token of our thanks and gratitude and a public way of saying ‘We will remember them’.”

Succinctly put, David. Firstly, we’re being urged to honour ‘the men and women of the Regular Army’ – that is,  of the British Regular Army, those Irish people who became part of the British Army and fought with it. Secondly we’re told to honour the UDR, the RUC and the PSNI.

I know it’ll come as a shock to David and others like him, but  those who believe in Irish independence from Britain have a logical difficulty with honouring those who fought world wars in the ranks of the British Army, an army that for decades and centuries has enforced British rule in Ireland.  And it’ll come as an equal shock to the Dublin 4ers to discover that those who believe in Irish independence as well as civil rights have a difficulty honouring the UDR and the RUC, who for decades were part of a system that ruthlessly repressed one-third of the north’s population.

The McNarry/Dublin 4 strategy is to paint those who disagree with them as recidivists, unreconstructed romantics who nurse a psychopathic streak. George Bush would have liked them: if you’re not for us you’re against us, and so a friend of murder.

Meanwhile,  on Donna’s breast the poppy sprouts, year after year.  The organisation she works for prides itself on its tradition of even-handedness and balance. Except, of course, you try to resist the party line. Then it’s ‘Get back on song or there’s the door’.

Will I tell you something really shocking? Not a single liberal voice in our society has been raised to denounce such Stalinist treatment.

7 Responses to Put em up or else…

  1. hoboroad October 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    Apart from Jon Snow of Channel 4 news


  2. Jude Collins October 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    I stand corrected – thanks, hoboroad (again)

  3. Pippakin October 30, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    You deliberately choose difficult subjects which is fine if you are prepared to answer the question.

    First Paedophile Priests: Your attitude seems to be that the one in someway mitigates the other.

    Gerry Bradley: You answer one half and leave the main question unanswered. No modern British or Irish army has or would get the right to decide which of their neighbours and ‘friends’ it is right to murder.

    And now this. The poppy represents the dead soldiers, not the living ones. The money it raises goes to assist the seriously injured. I don’t care if people wear it or not and I’m no great fan of the British Legion, but those who work for state paid broadcasters including John Snow should remember who pays their wages. If some again, including John Snow feel so strongly I’m sure there is plenty of work out there for worn out tv presenters.

    People have the right to respect their army and to pay their respects their own, legal, way.

    If it is wrong to wear the poppy it sure aint right to wear the lily.

  4. Jude October 30, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Thanks again for comments, Pippakin. A few points.

    1.Writing on any topic doesn’t oblige me to answer any questions except I choose to, any more than you’re obliged to comment. I may choose to answer but no obligation.

    2. Show me where in my piece I suggest that the crimes of others in any way mitigates the crimes of paedophile priests.

    3. Gerry Bradley: not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that paramilitaries murder while regular armies kill? I do hope not because it’s a hopelessly flawed position. But I may have misunderstood.

    4. Poppy-wearing. I don’t recall ever suggesting the poppy represents only living soldiers. Maybe you can quote? Nor saying anything about where the money collected goes. As to Jon (note, no ‘h’) Snow, are you suggesting that a journalist should never say anything that might not match with the views of his employer? I’ve a low opinion of journalists but it’s not quite that low. As for ‘worn-out’ – I find Snow fresh and refreshing but I suppose it’s a matter of opinion. And yes, of course, people have a right to respect their army and pay their legal respects – good luck to them. Again, I don’t recall ever suggesting otherwise. Since I don’t consider the British army my army, I won’t be contributing or respecting. Finally, it’s not wrong to wear the poppy, if that’s what you believe in. Never suggested otherwise, that I recall.

    You can see I value and respect your views, Pippakin, since I’ve spent the time to give them detailed response. It’s just that I totally disagree with them.

  5. pippakin November 1, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    You were whining that RCC were being accused of paedophilia when Protestant clerics were not. Not true and even if it were what difference would it make to the victims. Are they supposed to feel better knowing Protestant children were abused too.

    You did not answer Why and who decides which neighbour/friend is murdered in a republican community. Too much testosterone has never led to western armies being ordered to kill their own communities.

    The BBC is owned and paid for by the British people. It is largely independent of but must never be indifferent to the strongly held opinions of the vast majority of its employers.

    It is of course gratifying to know you respect my opinion. I wish I could say I respect yours. I have seen and read all I need.

  6. Jude November 2, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    You should have a ‘to’ at the end of that final sentence, Pippakin – ‘ ‘I have seen and read all I need to’. Admittedly this leaves you ending a sentence with a preposition, generally seen as clumsy, but at least it’s not ungrammatical. There’s nothing I can do about opinions expressed here – in fact I welcome them; but I’d like to think I encourage, ahem, the Queen’s English.

  7. pippakin November 3, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Tá an teanga a úsáid mé mo chinneadh.