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John Chuckman


“Even the humble poppy can’t escape the culture wars”

First, the poppy is not so humble, and it is most certainly not innocent.

It symbolizes the virtually meaningless deaths of 20,000,000 people in the Great War.

They died for little more than deciding which branch of a royal family would dominate on the continent of Europe. All the other claims and slogans are just words.

The war settled so little and did it so badly, that the whole business arose again in just over twenty years.

The poppy further symbolizes the deaths of more than another 50,000,000 just a bare quarter century later in the greatest human catastrophe in all history.

Culture wars? That is a very dated fad concept, and indeed a rather tiresome one.

The fact is that it is the normal reaction of the human mind to gradually forget about terrible things.

The annual wearing of poppies works desperately against that, while to a certain extent glorifying war and actually kind of prettifying it.

Forgetting is just a practical response to allow life to go on.

Deliberately trying to keep terrible things alive is simply perverse, if not morbid.

The World Wars obviously will always be in our history books, and that is where they should be.

A century, just about, after the end of WWI, poppies are overdue to become history themselves.

For anyone who believes the myth that by remembering in this fashion we can in effect make it so it will never happen again, all I can say is that is utter foolishness.

The Great War itself proves that. Just over twenty years later, Europe was at it again, and in an even bloodier war.

And just look back in recent history with George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s illegal and brutal invasion of Iraq.

Annual poppy wearing did nothing to prevent a horror in which about a million died, a couple of million were made refugees, tens of thousands were left shattered, and poisons like depleted uranium dust were generously deposited to keep killing for years ahead – all in the destruction of what had been one of the Arab world’s most advanced societies.

“Never again” in anything is just a phrase.

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