Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Poppy Fascism

Let me make it very clear. I have nothing at all against you if it is your choice to wear a poppy, but allow me the same courtesy as I choose not to wear one.

This poppy fascism is getting out of hand. For years now Jon Snow has withstood the demands from poppy fascists that he must wear a poppy on-screen. Fair play to him for his resolve. Even the Royal British Legion has responded to this with what amounted to 'ah come now lads its his own choice' (not actual comment, I like to give these things a local touch).

Not that Mr. Snow is in the same boat as myself. He wears a poppy on Remembrance Sunday, but on his own time. His protest is against the poppy fascism that is beginning to make it obligatory to wear a poppy. Surely if you are truly proponents of freedom (which it has been argued the poppy symbolises), you would encourage the practice that individuals should have the choice of whether or not to wear a poppy. This brings me to the Celtic fiasco.

During last weeks' nine-nil thumping of Aberdeen, Celtic fans unveiled a banner declaring:


This was in response to the decision for Celtic to display poppies on their shirts. Celtic have insisted this was the action of a small minority. This made me think it was just a few guys with a bit of a poster. I was genuinely shocked when I saw the following image of the small minority.

Let me again be very clear, I wish that none of this happened. However, when you bring politics into sport how on earth can you expect zero repercussions. Sport is not the place for politics, and yes, that includes the poppy. There is now talk of these fans being banned from attending Celtic matches. How on earth is that justified?

My own opinion is different to these fans. There should be absolutely no ruling on either this or any political issue within sport. The individual players ought to have the choice as to whether or not they wish to wear a poppy. If they do not wish to wear one, that should be respected, if they choose to wear one, that should similarly be respected. There have been incidents celebrated where people have won the right to wear a poppy when it has been denied, so why should these players be denied that choice?

As it stands, punishing these fans for voicing their own opinions while promoting the poppy as a commemoration of 'soldiers who fought for freedom' is nothing short of hypocrisy.

What annoyed me immensely is this article of DUP MP Gregory Campbell's reaction to this situation. He insisted that Celtic and all other clubs must "actively promote the act of remembrance". Who is he to demand what Celtic Football Club ought to do? He has no links to the club whatsoever besides being a fan of their rivals. He is not a Celtic fan, he is not a footballer, he is not Scottish... how can he demand what this club ought to do?

On the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs website you'll find their response to how the Celtic have handled the matter. Its an interesting read and I encourage you to do so.

I'm going to finish this rant with what I think sums up the hypocrisy of Gregory Campbell and others in the following exchange between Jon Snow and 'Stan', a commenter on his blog.

Stan (his words, I accept no liability for his grammar etc., any reader of this blog knows I have enough problems of my own in that department):

"jon,when you ride your bike,do you ever think of the hundreds of thousands of british troops who gave there lives in world war 2 tokeep our great country free you alone dishonour them by not wearing a poppy.YOU LOOK WHAT YOU ARE ON YOUR BIKE."

Jon Snow's reply:

"Stan they died that we might be free to wear a Poppy whenever we wish. i wish to wear mine on Remembrance Sunday. When you wish to wear yours is your business. Compelling people to wear poppies because YOU think they OUGHT to is precisely the Poppy fascism, or intolerance, that I have complained of in the past. On yer bike Stan, with or without a poppy, it’s all your own free choice..Hitler lost the war!"

OK, I lied, I'll end on this: if you have a few minutes free why not google "British War Crimes in Iraq" or "British Collusion" or any of the multitude of other possibilities. There's not exactly a shortage of material on what those protesters were pointing out, is there? (END - I promise it is this time).