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Poppies and Politics

Ken Burch
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Joined: Feb 26 2005

I know that it's traditional for MP's to wear a poppy to commemorate...but, are all the party leaders(INCLUDING THE NDP)requiring their mp's to wear the right-wing, militarist red poppy rather than the white peace poppy?


Comments

6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

I have no problem with the custom poppy movement. Though personally I don't consider the traditional red poppy to be a militaristic symbol.

On the other hand if an MP is going to take a principled stand that might involve some risk, I'd prefer it be a point on which real peace in the world depends, rather than a symbolic one. Not that it's a  bad idea, I just don't think it is the highest priority issue threatening peace in the world.

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Ken, it's simple. Mulcair banished the red square, but brandishes the red poppy. It's a clear statement as to which is the right hill to die on. It's vital to stamp out wide-eyed idealism among some of his MPs while they're still young.

 

 


contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

UK teen jailed for blasphemy
(Military worship being the  state religion of the enlightened western imperial powers).


Quote:
UK teen arrested for burning poppy on Facebook
7:17 PM Tuesday Nov 13, 2012

A British teenager who drunkenly posted a picture of himself burning a poppy on Facebook was in police custody last night.

Officers arrested Linford House after they received a complaint about the image that was published in the early hours of Remembrance Sunday.

When police called at his parents' home that evening, the 19-year-old had already taken down the image on a friend's advice.

It showed a cigarette lighter with a flame catching light to the bottom of a poppy, allegedly with the words: 'How about that you squadey ****s'.

The student was questioned by detectives for several hours yesterday afternoon and last night he was still in custody facing a second night behind bars.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10847187

Steve Bell, fortunately, provides gentle guidance on the reverent use of the poppy:

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/11/13/135...


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

It really is a belief system held over from our imperial past into our imperial present and future, reinforced for western consumption, by police inquisition where necessary, now that the traditional 'other worldly' belief systems are held in such low esteem by many.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Not that I support arresting people for burning symbols, - I don't - but I think the reaction in the UK might also be reinforced by something a little more visceral than western consumption and a need to replace religion.

That is, the fact that country had the shit bombed out of it night after night during the Second World War, and was in real danger of falling.

Also it's good to bear in mind that not everyone who respects those who died in war are glorifying war or imperialism. We may have a federal government doing its best to confuse the two things, but that does not mean they are one and the same.

 

 

 


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

It's one of the biggest multi-faith venues of the year.  They wrap it all into one - faith, sacrifice, savior-ism, remembrance, patriotism, nationalism.  It's like a big open air revival hour where denominational specificity has been replaced by an all encompassing spectacle that we're summoned to bow before and not just in part, but to the whole assemblage, including the importance of supporting the continuity between past, present and future.  The specter of arrest and inquisition as a result of vandalizing something that one acquires as personal property is to deny and make illegal an act of dissent that differentiates between acknowledging the carnage of war and everything else that has attached itself to the symbolism of the poppy, what the ceremonies have become in recent years.  Obviously they would prefer if all distinctions were erased in that regard, which is why they go through such lengths and with such frequency nowadays.  It’s just not limited to once a year on November 11th anymore.


Aristotleded24
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Joined: May 24 2005

We should remember this next time a Conservative accuses the NDP of not supporting the military!Yell


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Remember what?....to petition for an arrest warrant?


contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Not that I support arresting people for burning symbols, - I don't - but I think the reaction in the UK might also be reinforced by something a little more visceral than western consumption and a need to replace religion.

That is, the fact that country had the shit bombed out of it night after night during the Second World War, and was in real danger of falling.

Also it's good to bear in mind that not everyone who respects those who died in war are glorifying war or imperialism. We may have a federal government doing its best to confuse the two things, but that does not mean they are one and the same.

"Visceral" (and atavistic), yes.
But to make any weak case that "the Nazi's made me do it" from the war 3/4 of a  century ago, you would have to show that such a veneration of the military and abuse of  dissenters and pacifists was a Nazi induced anomoly from the previous annals of imperialism and military  worship--and that you cannot do.

Although Harper is certainly  exploiting Remembrance Day more than ever in Canada, national military worship and genuine loss in war historically have shared the podium--and this extends to a quasi-religious Veneration of the Saints. which is more common among people than not, as exemplified by reactions to this repentant US blasphemer:

Quote:
[MSNBC's]Chris Hayes Apologizes For Saying He Feels 'Uncomfortable' Calling Killed Soldiers 'Heroes' (VIDEO)

Quote:
I think it's interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word "hero"? I feel comfortable -- uncomfortable -- about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I'm wrong about that...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/chris-hayes-uncomfortable-soldi...








6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

It's not "the Nazis made me do it". Not at all.

It's an understanding of war that most of us here have no grasp of. And it's hardly atavistic; it's living memory for plenty of people.. It's similar to the understanding that many more in Europe have of the pointlessness of solving problems by pounding the shit out of each other. Or the logic of having missiles pointed at your own country.

They are still pulling unexploded bombs out of their cities, as a reminder of where that course of action got them.

 


contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

Again, "you would have to show that such a veneration of the military and abuse of  dissenters and pacifists was a Nazi induced anomoly from the previous annals of imperialism and military  worship--and that you cannot do."

The appeal to "special circumstances" in Britain re: its taking a beating in WWII does not  explain the military worship in non Brit countries that  did not. And in Britain, if not atavistic nationalism, then one would expect  more sensitivity to those they have  "bombed  the shit out of"  in  subsequent imperial ventures.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Contrarianna, did you read the part in my post where I made it clear I was talking specifically about the UK, where this fellow was arrested for burning that poppy?

Whatever sensitivity one learns or does not learn, I'd say those who have actually had their cities bombed or seen their countries laid waste have a slightly different appreciation for the reality of war and the role of the military than those of us who do not have that experience.

In short, I'm not talking about those non-Brits.

 


contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

Your apologetics are based on the supposedly unique circumstances of post WWII for Britain.

My point is that the response to anti-milataristic blasphemy was neither uniqely British, nor,when British, governed by some unique post-WWII trauma.

WWI might be a comparitive example, though again it is not unique in  the annals  of  human folly and atavism:

Quote:


‘I Tried to Stop the Bloody Thing’

In World War I, nearly as many British men refused the draft—20,000—as were killed on the Somme's first day. Why were those who fought for peace forgotten?
By Adam Hochschild
....

A West End theater put on a play mocking pacifists, called The Man Who Stayed at Home. Women stood on street corners handing out white feathers, an ancient symbol of cowardice, to young men not in uniform. Recruiting posters appealed to shame: one showed two children asking a frowning, guilty-looking father in civilian clothes, “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?” (Keir Hardie’s friend Bob Smillie, leader of the Scottish mineworkers, said his reply would be: “I tried to stop the bloody thing, my child.”)



On Bertram Russell who was imprisoned for  his pacifism during WWI:

Quote:
Part of Russell’s intellectual bravery lay in his willingness to confront that last set of conflicting loyalties. He described himself poignantly in the autumn of 1914 as being “tortured by patriotism. . . . I desired the defeat of Germany as ardently as any retired colonel. Love of England is very nearly the strongest emotion I possess, and in appearing to set it aside at such a moment, I was making a very difficult renunciation.” What left him even more anguished was realizing that “anticipation of carnage was delightful to something like ninety per cent of the population. . . . As a lover of truth, the national propaganda of all the belligerent nations sickened me. As a lover of civilization, the return to barbarism appalled me. As a man of thwarted parental feeling, the massacre of the young wrung my heart.” Over the four years to come, he never yielded in his belief that “this war is trivial, for all its vastness. No great principle is at stake, no great human purpose is involved on either side. . . . The English and French say they are fighting in defence of democracy, but they do not wish their words to be heard in Petrograd or Calcutta.”...

http://theamericanscholar.org/i-tried-to-stop-the-bloody-thing/


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Contrarianna,

Good posts; I don't disagree with them at all. But I wasn't talking about the distinction between anti-militarism and glorification of war. Frankly I think respect for those who have been killed in war, and remembering the terrible toll of conflict cuts across that political divide.

Also, it has nothing to do with my point, which was that for people and for nations which have experienced war, I don't think their opinions and reactions are just built on an "archaic belief system". I'd say it is a lot more ingrained and personal than that.

 

 


Aristotleded24
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Joined: May 24 2005

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Also it's good to bear in mind that not everyone who respects those who died in war are glorifying war or imperialism. We may have a federal government doing its best to confuse the two things, but that does not mean they are one and the same.

Exactly, and Remembrance Day is important for me largely because my grandfather served in WWII. To give one example, a large number of men in WWII came from the Canadian Prairies, because at the time they were literally being blown away and there was little else in the way of meaningful work for them. Starting off economically disadvantaged, then they go to war and see all the crap that goes on. Have you ever tried to speak to a war veteran about what they experienced and they just don't want to talk about what they experienced? Every wonder why? Then after the war, the suffering continues, as Mom either has to raise the kids without their Dad, or Dad's mental health is terrible because veterans care services were (and arguably still are) very poor, and the families are quite traumatized. Showing respect for the price paid by people directly in combat is far different than glorifying war. Besides, can you think of a stronger advocate for peace than one who has seen the impacts of war first-hand?


contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

Aristotleded24 wrote:

.... Besides, can you think of a stronger advocate for peace than one who has seen the impacts of war first-hand?

Frequently, yes.
Those who see the ill effects on themeselves and loved ones as a reason not to continue the status quo certainly exist but are a predominantly voiceless minority.
 
[sidenote: I have not suggested that a sense of loss and/or respect for participants in conflicts is always misplaced. Their are  many who deserve the utmost of respect, and it would be both cruel and stupid to suggest otherwise.]
 
However, the same military sites that recruit and train oblivious youth into more killers and cannon fodder are the biggest promoters of Remembrance Day activities--making much of the de facto "heros" alive and dead.

What better marketing device for ANY wars, justifiable or not, than a presumption that the  participants (specifically, for one's own nation, of course) are automatically "heros"?

If that reality is not clear enough, we have Defense Minister Peter Mackay making the message very explicit indeed (that is, "we remember BECAUSE we will always have our heros in unquestionably justifiable and endless  wars"):

 

Quote:

....
For generations, people have gathered at memorials and cenotaphs, or paused elsewhere in silent prayer, as the clock strikes 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day. But why does Canada still remember, so far removed from The War to End All Wars?

Because there was a war after that – the Second World War – in which Canadians once again distinguished themselves, and suffered terrible losses. Although the death toll did not eclipse that of the Great War, the survivors, nearly one million men and women, still bore the scars of a bloody conflict. And Canadians once again mourned the dead.

The Korean War followed, and it became evident that the prayers of our fathers and mothers wouldn’t be answered; war would continue to affect Canada and Canadians, and brave Canadians would continue to die in service of their country.

In the 21st Century, war has taken on a different character, but it is no less war, and no less damaging to those who fight it, and those at home who are affected by it. Canadians mourned publicly as our honoured dead were brought home from Afghanistan, and open their arms to the proud Canadian Forces members who returned, embedding the spirit of remembrance in another generation.

Canada remembers, because there are still conflicts. Heroic men and women go to war for the benefit of Canada and the rest of the world, and some are lost. Would that this did not happen, but until the last war is fought, lest we forget.[bolding mine]


http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/minister-ministre/video/video-view-voir-eng...

 


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Contrarianna

That may be your opinion, but as an argument it is as baseless as it is pointless.

In the first place there are a number of prominent veterans anti-war and anti-armament groups. Much of the leading edge of resistance to war is consists of soldiers who refuse to return to what they see as unjust and illegal war. And if you don't think there are veterans who oppose war, you are not paying attention. WHo was it that drew attention to the military industrial complex, if not the commander in chief of the U.S. military?

ALso, if someone who is against militarism wants to remember relatives who were injured, scarred or died in war, what's it to you? And to call it a "predominantly voiceless minority" how would you know, and what does it matter how many people we are talking about?


contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

6079_Smith_W wrote:

 

ALso, if someone who is against militarism wants to remember relatives who were injured, scarred or died in war, what's it to you? And to call it a "predominantly voiceless minority" how would you know, and what does it matter how many people we are talking about?

What part of :

"I have not suggested that a sense of loss and/or respect for participants in conflicts is always misplaced. Their are  many who deserve the utmost of respect, and it would be both cruel and stupid to suggest otherwise."

do you not understand?

You might as well ask what business is it of anyone to talk about the moral dimensions of anything.

My point was that not all reactions to Remembrance Day can be judged in the same light. This is not novel and is a  distinction amplified by you and other defenders of the celebration.

I am well aware of the fine history of soldiers and ex-soldiers in the peace movement. However, I used the phrase "predominantly voiceless minority" accurately.
Otherwise, there would be much more widespread outrage over the warmonger Peter MacKay using Remembrance Day as platform for glorifying present and future wars.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Actually, you seem to be trying very hard to equate it with militarism, and to downplay those who mark the occasion and oppose war.

If you're saying some thing else, then I have to wonder exactly what it is you are saying.

..that Remembrance day is something which the government and others ARE trying to use to glorify war? How is that a newsflash? I said that myself, so back off with the accusations of apologism.

 

 


contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

If by If by "downplay" you mean denigrate. No.

If by "downplay" you mean doubt the success of any movement in curtailing the much accelerated media/military/political propaganda  of  troop worship and militarism  (and its amplified use of  Remembrance Day to that end). Yes.

I'm not "trying hard"  to equate Remembrance  Day with militarism, the overwjhelming evidence is that iis it primarily, though not exclusively, associated with troop worship and militarism.

If it isn't clear what I'm saying by this point , then just wonder on. 

 

 


Arthur Cramer
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Joined: Nov 30 2010

Well, this comment is aimed at no one. But, as a retired vet, and the son of WW2 vet, I dont' get what the issue is. But, I understand it. And you know, because we are so far away from many of thse memories, the horror associated with it has pretty much dissapeared from society's collective concience. So, in a real way, people don't know what it is they are "celebrating", for lack of a better to put it. Of course, Harper, and Obama both want to fight wars all over hell's half acre, and that doesn't help in educating people about this either. Its complicated. I don't see Remeberance Day the way many of you do. But, maybe my life experience explains a lot of it. By the way, I don't have a problem with the White Poppy either. Its still "celebration", but a call for peace. No real solider believes and wats to fight a war. Not a one.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

One of the best comments I heard marking this year's Remembrance Day was Barry Callaghan on Cross Country Checkup, reading some selections of a book of WWI prose and poetry he edited. He criticized what he called the "Masterpiece Theatre" version of 1812 that the Harperites are showcasing this year, and their not wanting to look at how horrible war really is.

 

 


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

My brother received a letter from Laura Secord's GGGgrandaughter. Apparently we are related to one of the military officers present at the battle of beaver dams.


MegB
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Joined: Nov 28 2001

I keep two poppies pinned above the dashboard of my car all year round.  One is for my uncle - who I never met because he was shot dead by a German sniper a few months before the end of the war, and one is for my father, who was an RCAF pilot and died of cancer in 1977.  

To be honest, I don't really observe Remembrance Day, because every single day we are reminded of the pointless, bloody-minded stupidity of war. If anything, Remembrance Day should be about the countless hundreds of thousands of non-combatants who are killed by war and its aftermath.   


Arthur Cramer
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Joined: Nov 30 2010

Rebecca West wrote:

I keep two poppies pinned above the dashboard of my car all year round.  One is for my uncle - who I never met because he was shot dead by a German sniper a few months before the end of the war, and one is for my father, who was an RCAF pilot and died of cancer in 1977.  

To be honest, I don't really observe Remembrance Day, because every single day we are reminded of the pointless, bloody-minded stupidity of war. If anything, Remembrance Day should be about the countless hundreds of thousands of non-combatants who are killed by war and its aftermath.   

Rebecca, I am sorry you never met your Uncle. I am sorry your father died so young. And, I agree, the idea of the suffering of innocent people is lost in this discussion over and over. That is why Harper's WWII war dedicated war monument proposal is so bad. All it does is glorify yet again, the idea of killing each other in "name of rightousness", whatever the hell that means.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Rebecca West wrote:

 If anything, Remembrance Day should be about the countless hundreds of thousands of non-combatants who are killed by war and its aftermath.   

Absolutely true. And before, or certainly alongside saying thanks, we should be saying sorry for putting those people in a position where they wound up in danger in the first place. There aren't that many situations where it was actually necessary - not even WWII, if people had had the presence of mind to act like human beings in 1918, 1919 and 1923.

Somehow just leaving it at "thank you" is shirking our own responsibility, IMO.

I had one great uncle who never made it back, and another who lost a leg, and my grandfather, who joined up only because it meant they could get a cow and become self-sufficient, was almost sent over.

The most striking story I was told about that war was from a woman who I sat next to on a flight years ago. She lived in London during the Blitz, and gave birth to one of her kids during an air raid. She said that she knew things were at least as horrible on the other side. She had heard stories of people in Hamburg being hit by phosphorous and jumping into the canals, but as soon as they came up for air, they would catch fire again, and there was nothing to do but shoot them dead. Even though she knew about that misery in her mind, it didn't matter. The only feeling she had was that she hated them and wanted to pound them and make them suffer as much as possible.

Thing is, my uncle was was one of the ones dropping those bombs on Hamburg.

There is no one way of looking at this, but personally, I don't think it should ever be forgotten, at least not until we finally get it into our heads to stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 


terrytowel
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Joined: Jan 8 2012

Why I Won't Wear A Red Poppy By Actress Deidre Hall

I believe that television shows are not a forum for expressing personal religious, social or political views. However, I have not objected when fellow performers have worn red poppy to express their support for war veterans; that's their choice. My choice is NOT to wear a poppy.

Readers should know wearing a red poppy is no longer entirely voluntary. Those who began by offering poppys to performers now resort to extreme tactics in pursuit of their express goal of 100 percent conformity. When performers arrive, individuals who attempt to pin poppys on them accost them. A performer who declines may be accosted at the pre-show, again while waiting backstage and after the show.

Offering these poppys to celebrities was, in my view, a benign and pro-social act. On the other hand, aggressively badgering performers to compel the wearing of poppys is no only demeaning to war veterans and to the desperate need of continued support, but an offense against personal freedom.

By attempting to force 100 percent conformity, these activists are now attempting to make the red poppy a visible litmus test for separating those individuals who empathize with war veterans from those who do not. This is a misguided and dangerous notion.

First, it misguidedly politicizes human tragedy. These red poppys provide a means by which public figures can appear to make a 'politically correct' statement in favor of a cause they do not support.

Second, any attempt to force conformity to a single social agenda attacks the freedom of expression. The extreme activities that resort to harassment to compel actors and actresses to wear these poppys are practicing a '90s brand of McCarthyism – and their behavior is deplorable. Our community was devastated by political extremists in the 1950s and again became a target during the last presidential campaign. It surpasses belief that men and women in the entertainment field would resort to shameful practices that the enemies of artistic freedom have used against us.

Sadly, it falls to some of us who ardently support war veterans and programs to resist these tactics by personal example. Believe me, the easy way out would be to pin the poppy on and keep silent. But I won't, because I don't want these appalling tactics to succeed.


Arthur Cramer
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Joined: Nov 30 2010

Terry Towel, I am a 20 year plus retired Naval Officer. For those of us who served, it is about Service, and frankly, NOTHING else. Dial it down a little. To me Rememberance Day is simply that, a Day of Rememberance, Military and Civllian. Its for people like my dad (blessed be his memory), who was in the first wave ashore at Normandy, or a good friend of his who served in Corvettes during the war (blessed be his memory). Its also for the 10s of millions of innocent civillains who died in Russia, and in wars since time immorial. That is ALL it is about. Have your opinion if you want, and protest or celebrate Rememberance Day any way you wish. But understand there are some of us who WANT to remember. Its the ONLY to ensure it doesn't happen again. One man's opinion, NOT, a Vet's opinion.


terrytowel
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Joined: Jan 8 2012

Arthur Cramer wrote:

Dial it down a little.

I didn't write that, Actress Deidre Hall did.

NDP Joe Cressy NOT wearing a poppy on the CBC today. While two others did. Maybe Joe left his at home.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BXwwfAYIEAAQ12X.jpg

Deidre Hall whole point is being accosted behind the scenes at TV stations to wear a poppy.  As Deidre says

"By attempting to force 100 percent conformity, these activists are now attempting to make the red poppy a visible litmus test for separating those individuals who empathize with war veterans from those who do not. This is a misguided and dangerous notion.

First, it misguidedly politicizes human tragedy. These red poppys provide a means by which public figures can appear to make a 'politically correct' statement in favor of a cause they do not support. Second, any attempt to force conformity to a single social agenda attacks the freedom of expression. The extreme activities that resort to harassment to compel actors and actresses to wear these poppys are practicing a '90s brand of McCarthyism – and their behavior is deplorable."

Again I didn't write this, actress Deidre Hall did.


Arthur Cramer
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Joined: Nov 30 2010

OK, terrytowel. Thanks, sorry; I thought you wrote it.

Its not about being in favor of war. I wonder if she's ever spoken to a Vet? My dad (blessed be his memory), fought his way ashore at Normandy, through France, and Belgium. He was violently anti-war and was attending anti-war protests wheeling my mother (blessed be her memory) in his late 60s, my mother in her wheel chair. It isn't about being pro-anything. Its simply remembering what happened. I was lucky; I never was in Harm's Way, but I have pals who were, and live with the scars of that exprience. If we forget, we are doomed. Do U know her twitter feed info? Thanks for your reply.


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