Imperialist amnesia and Poppy Porn

It remains to be seen if Britain reached Peak Poppy yesterday.

If next year is anything like this, or even more over the top (see what I did there?), then the weaponisation of the war dead is probably an irreversible cultural trend in the UK.

What was once a sombre day (note day) for families and communities to reflect on a lost loved one has become a bizarre seasonal festival of compulsory “grieving”.

Of course, Planet Fitba is not immune from this disorder.

Yesterday the klan was seething that Celtic supporters observed the mandatory silence at Livingston.

The Ibrox chaps were aching for something to be angry about.

When that is the case then Remembrance Sunday is not about a solemn act of remembering.

Rather, it is about scoring points in a futile culture war.

With each passing year in Britain Poppy Porn becomes increasingly hardcore.

Here in Ireland, the Royal British Legion Poppy remains a contentious symbol and in the Six Counties, it has become the seasonal emblem of the Unionist community.

 

Therefore, it was probably inevitable that someone would come up with a local variant for the Republic.

Indeed, our Love Actually Taoiseach is very fond of it.

This is a clear attempt to redefine the RBL Poppy as something historically specific and local for us in Ireland.

The emblem is meant to be just about the Irish who died in the First World War.

The 16th Irish Division was full of men who had listened to the leader of the Irish Volunteers John Redmond.

 

It is a matter of historical record that some of the Irish Volunteers who joined the 16th Irish Division came back and joined the IRA.

However, it is also a fact that some of the chaps in the trenches would later terrorise the Irish on behalf of the Crown.

During the horrible attrition on the Western Front revolutionaries in Ireland would strike the first blow in a process that would undo the British Imperium forever.

What makes the Poppy and Remembrance Sunday difficult in Ireland is that our founding document, the Easter Proclamation, makes reference to “our gallant allies in Europe”.

The Irish Volunteers who didn’t follow Redmond were in the GPO in 1916 and their allies were looking down the sights of a Spandau at the approaching British.

Recently I read of an incident at a railway station where Republican internees who were being transported to Frongoch saw some British soldiers on the opposite platform.

The lads, just for the craic like, started marching up and down singing

“Deutschland über alles”.

I literally laughed out loud when I read that and I hoped that my grandmother’s brother Michael was there belting it out too!

click for full image

He was certainly interned in Frongoch.

In fairness, the guards at that POW camp in Wales did have nice outfits.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend and the enemy of the men in Frongoch was not the Germans.

The war itself was transformative.

By the time that the guns fell silent in November 1918 all was changed, changed utterly.

Regiments that went to war on horseback in 1914 were driving tanks four years later.

Battlefield commanders had to adapt to a changed landscape in every sense of the word.

By the end of the war the following innovations had been introduced to the business of war:

Aerial photo reconnaissance.

Flamethrowers

Light machine guns

Radios

Sub-machines guns

Tanks

That list isn’t exhaustive, but it indicates the technological revolution that had taken place in four years.

The First World War was also the zenith of British global pre-eminence

Since then it has been a slow decline on the world stage.

The idea that the First World War was good guys versus bad guys is historically illiterate.

The British Empire was a genocidal crime syndicate.

Quite simply they had to deal with the new Kaiser on the block.

Moreover, they were in alliance with Czarist Russia, probably the most repressive and cruel regime in Europe in 1914.

It was, in part a family affair.

The Czar, the Kaiser and the British King were first cousins and all grandsons of Queen Victoria.

Only Bertie would remain in place.

His cousin Willie abdicated, ousted by a socialist uprising led my sailors and soldiers.

The Kaiser lived out his life peacefully in Holland, but the Russian cousin of this crime family was not so lucky.

It all ended for the Romanov dynasty in a basement in Yekaterinburg in 1918.

Had it not been for the outbreak of the First World War, then none of those seismic events would have unfolded in the way that they did.

Without the Great War, there would have been no 1916 Easter Rising and no War of Independence here.

In two weeks I will do my own private remembering.

On the 28th November I consider the courage of the men of Kilmichael.

I do not grieve the passing of Francis Crake MC and his war criminals on that remote boreen in the Rebel County.

His gang were terrorising the local population and taunting the IRA to come to close quarters with them.

Barry duly obliged, but at a time of his choosing.

The “Auxies” were the SAS of their time and proved to be no match for the West Cork Flying Column.

Of course, the Corkman had himself had been in the uniform of the British King when he heard of the events of Easter Week.

In 1916 he was serving in Mesopotamia securing oil supplies for the Empire.

He returned home to be on the correct side of history.

On the 28th of this month I do consider the sacrifice of Volunteers Pat Deasy, Michael McCarthy and Jim Sullivan.

Fuair siad bás ar son Saoirse na hÉireann.

It is worth noting the RBL Poppy is a symbol commemorating ALL British war dead since the start of World War One.

Therefore, it pays homage to all of those heroes who defended the British Empire against those ghastly natives.

Here’s an idea…

Instead of this North Korean type of enforced “remembrance” every year (and it seems to be getting earlier and lasting longer) the British should learn about the great evils that their empire perpetrated across the planet for centuries.

Now that is something I could take part in.

It is not forgetting that the British nation should guard against, but the culturally enforced amnesia of what their leaders inflicted upon millions of innocents.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion