I would wear a red poppy if it was a symbol of remembrance for all the victims of war, and not just the ones who did the killing. By excluding the non-military victims of war from remembrance, the red poppy upholds a moral hierarchy of worthy and unworthy victims: the heroic soldier who is worthy of respect and official commemoration, and the unworthy, unnamed civilians killed or maimed by the heroic soldier who remains unacknowledged and unremembered.
Archive for April, 2012
We are once again in the season in New Zealand and Australia where all public figures are required to wear a red poppy on television, where rugby matches hold a ceremony of remembrance before the game and a massive red poppy is painted on the field of play so it is never out of the viewer's sight. It is also the season where commentators openly state on public radio that wearing the white poppy is akin to wearing the white feather, and is a sign of disloyalty and disrespect - and that war is inevitable and necessary, and we should be grateful to the soldiers who have to fight them. It is the season where we are encouraged to never question the reasons for going to war, but just accept it as necessary and noble. For this reason, and to try and stimulate a little more debate and reflection about what we are doing and why we do it, it seems appropriate to re-post this blog.