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Showing posts with label WW1. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WW1. Show all posts

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Two entirely reasonable men debate the Politicised Poppy

Would that all television discussion could be conducted in such a civilised manner ...

But then, neither of them are politicians. The innate decency and humanity of both men shines through, despite their difference in age and opinion.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Poppy–a symbol that has lost its meaning?

PetieEddie

These are my uncles – Peter and Edward McCluskey.

They volunteered as teenagers for service in the Great War – they didn’t have to fight, they weren’t conscripted, there was no military tradition in their family, they were both born in Glasgow, and both of their parents – my grandparents – were Southern Irish, and had no love for England or the UK. They fought for Scotland, the country of their birth.

Both died before their time, indirectly as a result of their injuries in that appalling war - Eddie at the age of 28 and Peter well after World War Two. I never knew my Uncle Eddie, but my Uncle Petie was a familiar figure during my childhood. He rarely spoke of his experiences, but was horrified when WW2 broke out and he saw his younger cousins Gerard and Peter, whom he had taken into his home after they lost their father, conscripted into the Highland Light Infantry and the RAF respectively. He spent the war crouched at the radio, following every report, devastated at the casualties and praying for peace.

Peter McCluskey was moved to tears each Armistice Day, and maintained the two minutes silence, but he would not have been seen dead wearing a poppy – he felt that this potent symbol of life, rising from the blasted earth of the battlefields, amid the corpses of his comrades, had been debased by its association with Earl Haig and that it had been hijacked by militaristic politicians.

Hence my identical feelings about the poppy, reinforced by experiences in industry and commerce, where people who never had a thought for others, or the dead, or any injustice, who never contributed a penny to funds for wounded and disabled ex-servicemen, suddenly acquired a poppy in November, and accosted me, asking “Why aren’t you wearing your poppy, Peter?” They wore their poppy like they acquired their golf handicap – it was the career-wise move.

They got a dusty answer, plus, on more than one occasion the challenge from me to write a cheque there and then for an ex-serviceman's charity and I would match it. I never had an acceptance …

The demonstration at Parkhead was profoundly misconceived, and has damaged the anti-war movement. These people were misguided fools, and  I wish they hadn’t done it. But I do understand the sentiment, however wrongheaded.


Friday, 26 March 2010

The poisoned, profitable fruits of war and death

Why did Blair go to war?

 Why did Bush go to war?

Why has war become the operating principle of the modern state again, after the revulsion at the slaughter of the Great War - the war to end all wars - and the exhaustion after what may have been the only just war of the 20th century – World War Two

Because it is hugely profitable to the warmongers - it enhances political reputations and increase the status of politicians and it enriches all sorts of companies and individuals. War is the route to incalculable wealth for some.

And wars are again like the old imperial wars of 19th century Britain - they can be fought away from home, with the native soil and commercial infrastructure virtually untouched. All the people have to bear is their impoverishment, and some must bear the deaths of their children, their fathers, their mothers, their brothers and sisters, their loved ones.

(The horror and profound shock of 9/11 for Americans was that this unspoken principle had been violated, and war had come to the heart of America. Even the long trauma of Vietnam had never touched American soil, despite the magnitude of the slaughter on foreign fields.)

The whole apparatus of modern PR and communications is now used to gain the public’s tacit acceptance of war - their dead loved ones are hailed as heroes, the acceptably injured are paraded for the cameras and the gruesomely maimed and disfigured are hidden away.

And the old men can turn out in their berets and medals for the sad, sad passage of the young dead through the streets, finding a false analogy with the just war they once fought, so long, long ago.

The BBC and the commercial television channels are shamefully complicit in this process, with only the occasional brave documentary revealing the true horror.

The priests, prelates and ministers of religion celebrate the lives and mourn the deaths in their ancient liturgies, yet all too rarely condemn unequivocally this ultimate crime against humanity. Some, in an obscene perversion of beliefs and creeds, actively advocate the crusade or the jihad. Religion and war continue to be the inseparable twins they have been throughout history, carried on the endless river of blood and drawing sustenance from it.

Maggie started the lethal process for Britain with the Falklands war, reaping huge political benefit, and her acolyte and admirer, Blair, catapulted himself on to the world stage through wars, and continues to profit obscenely from the poisoned fruits of the Four Horsemen.

Geoff Hoon and his ilk only scavenge the substantial crumbs from the feast of death – the real criminals are untouchable. In the last few days, some of them advocated turning Iran “into a sheet of glass” through nuclear strikes.

Scotland doesn’t have to be a part of this, and we will very shortly have our chance to demonstrate this at a general election, and later in a referendum. Vote for life – for humanity.