Poppy Pride and Prejudice.

It never ceases to amaze me at this time of year how bigoted, ignorant, and intolerant people can be to those, such as myself, who decide to wear a white poppy instead of a red one.  Just this week for example, someone I know very well posted a picture on Facebook that had the caption “if the red poppy offends you pack your bags and Fuck Off!”  Rational and civilised discussion are just not on the agenda it would seem.  There are none so deaf and blind, or dangerous, as those who willfully refuse to see or hear an opposing point of view.  We are not allowed to be heard.  It is their way, or the highway, which is sorta reminiscent of the fascism our ‘heroes’ apparently vanquished some 70 years ago, funnily enough.

As a long time anti-war activist, I have often heard variations on the theme, “but those soldiers died for your right to protest/freedom of speech”.  If I had a pound for every time I had been told that, I would be a very rich man indeed.   More than once I have been told, in effect, that “these soldiers died for your right to speak, so shut your bloody mouth…”

Though, of course, the Freedom of Speech claim is utter nonsense, especially in light of recent cases in the UK, where a man was prosecuted for something he had written on a T-shirt, disabled women are having their doors knocked at the dead of night by Police over Facebook postings, people being arrested for Twitter postings, and folk being arrested for heckling the Prime Minister.

Freedom?  Aye, for the rich and their peado friends maybe.

Lest we forget, Remembrance Sunday was originally called Armistice Day, to commemorate the end of The Great War, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  Those who fought and died in the trenches thought they were fighting ‘The War To End All Wars’.  The Great War was supposed to be the Last War.  And this war was so horrific, so brutal, so pointless, that the general sentiment afterwards was of NEVER AGAIN.  That we have done it again, and again, and again and again, is a huge slap in the face to the millions who thought they were fighting in the last ever war.   Those that died in the mud of Flanders Field did not do so in the belief that their war was the first in a sequence.  The last 100 years have shown that they fought and died for nothing.  And that is not something to be proud of.

It seems obscene to me to take “pride” in events that have left millions dead and injured, and whole nations crippled and scarred.

Remembrance Sunday glosses over the details of various British military adventures, as if there is no distinction between WW2, Iraq, Kenya, WW1, the Falklands, Afghanistan or Ireland.  Ironically, Remembrance Sunday is not about remembering that our politicians regularly lie about war, or that war is mostly unnecessary, and evil.  It is only about remembering what is termed the “glorious dead”.  Details like causes and consequences can be forgotten.

And it is phrases like the “glorious dead” that also make me refuse to wear a red poppy.  Calling the dead ‘glorious’ serves only to glamorise and romanticise dying in war to our young.  It says, in effect, that it is a great, noble, and honourable thing to die in war.  Wilfred Owen railed against that thinking in his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est, and Harry Patch, the last UK survivor of the trenches, went further, calling war nothing but “legalised mass murder”.

I wear a white poppy to show my distaste with war, with the misery it causes, with the lies that cause it, with it’s utter futility and pointlessness.  War is terrorism writ large, and nothing about it should ever generate pride.  I shall wear my white poppy with sorrow, sadness, and a fair grasp of what war has meant for generations, from World War One to Iraq.

… The white poppy is a symbol of remembrance for all those who have died in war, not just one nation’s dead, or one nation’s fallen soldiers; but all deaths in all wars, civilian and soldiers, past conflicts and present. The death of one individual in conflict has the same worth and sadness attached to it as any other, and the white poppy promotes that.

The red poppy does not. It promotes one nationality, it promotes one profession, it ignores civilians, and worst of all it encourages collective silence in questioning British involvement in current conflicts that continue to see casualties week in week out, from all sides.

And if you don’t like that, argue with me, politely 😉

Further reading –
Lest We Forget 2012, by John Andrews.

The Cult of The Fallen Soldier by Matthew Vickery.

White Poppies Are For Peace.

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Dear God #1.

(I shall be 40 on the 23rd of this month.  On the same night Rufus Wainwright is playing in Bristol.  I found out today that the tickets are sold out.  Which inspired this post….)

Dear God,

I don’t know who You are.  I don’t know what You want.  If You are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money.  But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career.  Skills that make me a nightmare for people like You.  If You get me tickets for the Rufus gig in Bristol on the 23rd, that’ll be the end of it.  I will not look for You, I will not pursue You.  But if You don’t, I will look for You, I will find You, and I will fucking kill You.

Thoughts on October 20th Anti-Cuts March, by John Frugal Lakey.

A posting by John Frugal Lakey.  Re-posted with permission.

“A couple of thoughts on yesterday in London.
Although it was a great day out, it was also a long day.  Up at 4am , drive to Plymouth to pick up Steve, and blag a free lift on the union bus to London.
The bus…, well, I think they sussed we weren’t union members, but put up with us, as we were there to support the protest and oppose the cuts.  They handed out blank banners and pens so we could make our own protest signs with prizes for best designs.   Needless to say we won the prize with our “yes Dave .. the peasants are revolting”  sign.  The prize was a xxl purple unison / union tee shirt.  Ah well, at least i can use it to wash the car.

Once in London we arrived a little too late to meet up with UK Uncut – as this was the plan – and a shout-out on Facebook for info didn’t return anything, so we went along with the march, and it was massive!!  I was quite impressed and easily 150,000 people attended.

The problem was, well, they seemed happy…?  And i questioned myself why they were there ?  It all seemed like a, well , a sponsored walk.   All the signs seemed to be the same.  Everyone seemed to dress the same,  all the same chants from the last few years, lots of use of the word `comrade`, `brother`, `sister` etc.  No one smoked, everyone was polite.  Even the police ??!!??   And, to be honest, it was a little, may i say, boring.. ?
We searched in vain for a little action, someone to do something a little out of the norm.  Maybe just a little little naughty, but, zip, nothing.  No-one stept out of line.   No sit in protests – nothing – it all seemed robotic.

As soon as they got to the end of the march at Hyde park, they turned around and went back to the buses.  Some stayed to listen to a few speeches from the likes of  Ed Miliband( who attended an austerity speech in a Rolls Royce !! i shit you not !) – but to be honest of what little i caught of the speeches it was more of the same, comrade, brother sister speeches going over recycled crap with no real positive outlook to the future.

Now, I like what the unions have done for the working person in the past, but i honestly think if they seriously want to be a voice in the future they need top step things up,  and BIG.  This government and the Labour party are not listening to you, they think you are pussies.  And yesterdays  march proved that to them.  While you marched the Tories held a day out at Ascot for the boys.  Ed rubberband turned up in a Rolls-Royce and you allow this shit to happen???  I think someone is taking the piss.

What I did come away with was a bigger understanding of apathy.  At the end of the day, people don’t really give a shit until it effects them personally, and then it will be too late.  We have 3 main parties in the UK and, well, there is no real difference in any of them.   All 3 will fuck you over in the interest of the corporates that pay them.

Would i go again??  Well maybe.   Just in the hope that a few of the people there might actually be a little pissed off and inspired enough to do something other than a sponsored walk.
In fact,  I’m tempted to try and go up for the 5th November action, so if anyone is looking for car-share and is up for it, give me a shout…..”

When Killing Kids is Just A-OK….

The murder of children is quite rightly seen as one of the most heinous crimes imaginable.  There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth this week over the abduction of the five-year-old April Jones, and the subsequent arrest and charging of Mark Bridger with her murder.  I guess I speak for many when I say I would happily take five minutes alone in a room with this alleged child murderer.  Nothing exercises the moral indignation of the British people more than those who set out to harm kids.  Unless, of course, those children happen to live in the Middle East.  In which case, we appear, at best, to be a bit ambiguous about the whole thing.

Just this week, far down the newsworthiness pecking order, was a report on the effect of sanctions on Iran.  It makes horrifying reading.  Not content with the reported 500,00 dead children as a result of sanctions on Iraq in the 1990’s, it would appear we are about to repeat the process in Iran.  The consequences of enforcing food and medicine shortages on a civilian population are predictable, and morally indefensible.  Yet there is no outpouring of grief or righteous fury over the fact that our government is embarking on a child killing spree abroad.

In an article in the Guardian, Philip Hammond, the UK Defence Secretary was reported to have said there would be “more pain on the streets“, and that –

There is further tightening (of sanctions) we can do.”  He added: “We can definitely make the pain much greaterNobody wants to cause the Iranian people to suffer unnecessarily but this mad scheme to build a bomb has to be brought to an end.”

Read that again.  “Nobody wants the Iranian people to suffer unnecessarily but..”
But, we are going to do just that nonetheless, make the Iranian people suffer “unnecessarily”.  This is Philip Hammond advocating a policy that will result in the deaths of untold numbers of children, from hunger and lack of basic medicine.  And he is justifying this on the LIE that Iran is building a nuclear bomb.  Maybe he should speak to his intelligence officials.  The only “mad scheme” here is that advanced by Hammond and his ilk, the one that thinks killing kids is ever a legitimate thing to do.  If “terrorism” means the use of violence aimed at civilians in order to force change from a government, what is it called when intense suffering is imposed on a  population in order to force change from their government?  It is also called terrorism, pure and simple.

American Democratic Representative Brad Sherman also justified the sanctions on Iran this way – “Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.

These people disgust me.

Where is the outrage?  Where is the anger?  Is it cos they are brown that no-one turns a hair?  Is it because, as the barbarous Joseph Stalin once said, that the death of one person is a tragedy, but the deaths of a million is just a statistic?

Mark Bridger is not the only child killer needing brought to justice.

Further reading –

Iran Sanctions Now Causing Food Insecurity, Mass Suffering.

UK Warns Iran of More Sanctions Pain.

Iran Uranium Used For Exclusively Peaceful Means, Despite Propaganda of War-Mongers.

Effect of Sanctions on Iraq.

Beautiful Things #1.

I have decided to start taking more notice of the beautiful things in life.  One of the most beautiful things I have seen this past week has been this short video.  (now a working link)

Everton tribute to the 96 who died at Hillsborough by emmysguysandgals

Beauty can come from the most ugly of things.  What happened at Hillsborough 23 years ago was an ugly thing.  The lies told about it were ugly, and the truth revealed this past week is rather ugly too.  But this tribute by Everton FC to the campaign for truth and justice by the families of the 96 dead Liverpool supporters is both beautiful and quite moving.  It brought a lump to my throat anyway.  Despite everything, never forget that  there is real goddam human decency out there, even in football.

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/hillsborough–police-did-doctor-evidence-in-bid-to-avoid-blame-8126233.html

http://www.thestar.co.uk/sport/football/make-hillsborough-disaster-s-guilty-parties-pay-liverpool-captain-1-4954267