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The White Poppy – Co-opting the Symbols of Others

A new symbol for an old cause has recently emerged. The cause is peace – the new, or more accurately, co-opted symbol is the white poppy. As most of us know, the red poppy is worn on, and leading up to, Remembrance Day to honour the men and women who sacrificed their lives in the defense of freedom.

It does not glorify war; it is a reminder of the human cost of war and the value of peace.

It increasingly seems that new generations who have never had to live or experience the horror of war, confuse the significance of November 11. They look on it as a glorification of all things military and so they protest Remembrance Day and have co-opted it’s singular symbol – the poppy – to make their point.

They live in a society where they have that right; a right guaranteed and protected by the lives of the very people they demean. They have the right to protest but lack the decency and the values not to misuse a symbol of honour and respect for their own purposes.

They are foolish, self-absorbed people not to be taken seriously. Where millions of red poppies will be sold and worn this year barely 2,500 white poppies have been distributed and almost none are being worn.

That is as it should be. Just as the red poppy does not symbolize war, the white poppy does not symbolize peace – it is merely a cheap attempt by the misguided to piggyback on what does not belong them.

It is becoming all too prevalent in our society.

Originally started with the pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer, now almost everything has a coloured ribbon. There are red ribbons to support our troops, white ribbons, blue, purple, green and yellow ribbons and even rainbow coloured ribbons to support the gay activist agenda.

Got an issue? Get a ribbon.

It’s as if nobody has the imagination to come up with an original symbol and so takes the lazy and easy way out by piggybacking on the symbol of others with only minor variations.

I think there is no more obvious example of this than Christmas.

Yes, I know – it’s a tad early to be talking about Christmas; we’re just coming up to Remembrance Day in Canada and our American friends have yet to celebrate Thanksgiving and, of course, Black Friday. But I’m trying to make a point so cut me some slack and work with me here. Besides – it snowed here yesterday which is just a touch early for a Currier and Ives scene.

Where are Al Gore and David Suzuki when you want to show them the ravages of global warming – under the snow?

Christmas is a Christian celebration. It isn’t merely a festival, it is the celebration of the birth of Christ – God made man and is second only to Easter in the Christian faith. More than 2 billion Christians celebrate Christmas around the world and it is no less important to them than Passover is to Jews or Ramadan to Moslems. The fact that millions who do not believe in the significance of Christmas now celebrate a secular version of it with their families doesn’t change that.

Although to be blunt – even the secular Santa Claus believes in Christmas.

And yet, there is perhaps no other single celebration that has not only been co-opted by the politically correct and the secular in society but assaulted, diminished and denigrated.

Merry Christmas has been changed to Seasons Greetings by many who would never dream of wishing their Jewish friends Happy Holidays at Chanukah. Christmas concerts are being banned from schools as if somehow the music, the joy and the very things that attracted non-Christians to celebrate Christmas will now somehow offend them.

In most cases, it is nothing more than the weak-minded thinking of foolish people who have convinced themselves that the best way to promote inclusion is to exclude what is important to one group or another. They have deluded themselves into thinking that the best way to celebrate diversity is to try and reduce everything to a homogenized, bland mud of similarity.

You don’t have to look further than Quebec with it’s proposed Charter of Secularism which restricts the rights of religious expression that are guaranteed in the province’s own Charter of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What an absurd bit of discrimination. Secular societies don’t ban religious faith; they simply don’t incorporate religion into their governance.

We all have the same rights and that includes the right to protest, to speak out for or against something and to decide for ourselves what we do or don’t believe. We have the right support a cause or many causes and to create symbols to represent them. We even have the right to make jackasses of ourselves.

But we also have something else.

Everyone talks about their rights these days but few accept the responsibility that attaches to those same rights.

It starts with understanding that just as you have the right not celebrate Christmas, others have the right to celebrate it – and publicly. Every year we see various cultural festivals in our communities; Chinese, Greek, Italian etc. and nobody finds it necessary to try and change or make them politically correct. They are what they are and we are all free to join in the celebration or not as we see fit.

It’s the same with Christmas, with Halloween, Chanukah, Eid Al-Adha and, yes, with Remembrance Day. We all have the right to believe what we want to believe but in a decent society, we also have the responsibility to respect the beliefs of others and to allow them to celebrate those beliefs publicly without interference – the same respect and lack of interference we demand for our own beliefs.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • oldwhiteguy

    good one bear.

    • MaggiesBear

      Thank you. I just get weary of people trampling on the beliefs and commemorations of others and co-opting the symbols used by them. It is a lack of understanding and respect that has become too prevalent in our society these days.

  • Jen S

    I hear ya on most of what you said.

    But if you want to be consistent, you gotta let them wear the white poppies. It’s their belief, we can feel it’s misguided, but they’re entitled to it.

    • MaggiesBear

      I have no issue with them promoting peace. My issue is with them co-opting the symbol used by others to do it. It cheapens both and shows a considerable lack of understanding and respect.

  • Pingback: The White Poppy is Just One More Theft of a Symbol | Grumpy Opinions()

  • http://sabiavida.com/ Miguel de Luis

    Today, at our remembrance service, I could notice how the fingers of one of the veterans were trembling. I suspect he was not with us to “glorify war”.

    • MaggiesBear

      What we often forget is that many of those ‘old’ men who wear their medals and poppies on their blazers in remembrance were young men when they faced the carnage of war. They have lived with the memory of that brutality for all of their years since and I suspect that was probably what made his fingers tremble. War isn’t just a a period of conflict. For those who survive it – our veterans – it is the gift the keeps on giving and they pay a terrible price for having lived through it. That along with the deaths of so many is the cost of freedom and it is a disgrace that some denigrate that sacrifice for their ’cause’.

  • Bert_1

    Years ago, I remember reading a quote by someone (I no longer remember who) that went “We need a good war every now and then.”. My first reaction to that statement was “Huh?” (well, it was actually a bit more forceful than that, but let’s go with “Huh?”). But, after I thought about it for a while, I began to understand the significance of the statement. Basically, the only people who truly appreciate and revile war are those who have been combatants. I have never been in a war so I have no real appreciation for what it entails. Sure, I know what war is and the basic maneuvers, etc, of war but I have never experienced the carnage or terror of war. So, I can never appreciate what our veterans have gone through. That isn’t to say that I support war, just that I don’t fully appreciate what others have gone through.

    That, I think, is what is happening with the white poppy. People who try to remind us of peace – and I suspect that their motives are good – can’t or won’t take the time to actually understand what it is that they are protesting against. For anyone to view Remembrance Day as a glorification of war takes a level of ignorance that is almost unparalleled in civilized society. But, I bet that there isn’t a single person supporting the white poppy drive who has actually experienced war. I suspect that if they did, they would then begin to appreciate exactly what Remembrance Day actually is. And, how stupid they have been.

    • MaggiesBear

      I’m hoping a good spanking will suffice or perhaps a better educational system. Too many of our young people grow up without any real knowledge of our history or the threats to democracy and the freedom of people all over the world by tyrants, dictators and megalomaniacs. It’s time we changed that or we will find ourselves in another world war at some point.

      • Bert_1

        Agreed, but what, exactly, is “a better educational system”? You know as well as I that if there were more classes on history in our schools, they would be so warped and twisted by the PC crowd that we would look like the bad guys in all of the wars because we dared to win. I think we need to get rid of the public school system and start teaching our children what they need to know in all subjects. Or, yes, we will end up in another war because people will be too ignorant and stupid to try and avoid one.

        • MaggiesBear

          That’s my point. A better educational system would teach an objective view of history and encourage students to think for themselves. It would teach how to learn rather than just a particular thing to learn. It is the same issue I have with some media on both the left and the right. There is too much bias and not enough objectivity. It isn’t just the left and the politically correct; the conservative side of the house does it just as much.

          • Bert_1

            Interesting: There were a couple of schools featured on Sun News tonight (I saw them on The Source) that had their students doing some work studying Canada’s history. To help the students understand better what happened in the wars, they had the kids pick a fallen soldier and research everything they could find about him. That works well with the kids because just saying “X million/thousand died in such-and-such war” is meaningless to them. Researching an individual soldier is something they can get their heads around. One school was in Saskatchewan and one was in Ontario. I believe the Ontario school did a Remembrance display for the students (interestingly with crosses in them).