By Ash Pryce
At certain times of the year you can prove your psychic ability exists. For instance, we know that from mid November there will be a lot of hoo-har in the tabloids and in America on Fox News about Political Correctness “Gawn Maad” and the War on Christmas: Christmas Carols being changed so as not to offend the non Christian, the removal of nativity scenes from traditional celebrations and the attempt by the evil Birmingham Council to change Christmas to Winterval. Another common hoo-har surrounds a few conservative (again) Christians pointing out how Hallowe’en is evil and the work of the Devil.
Then there is the issue of those dirty minorities forcing the British troops and veterans to stop selling poppies because it offends them! Well of course, all of that is balderdash, but for now, it’s those minorities (read “Muslims” usually) and their easily offended ways that we need to discuss. I support the troops. I buy a poppy each year mainly as a way to show some respect (even if just in my own head) for my Great-Grandad who was a fighter in World War 1, gassed at the second battle of the Somme and taken as a POW.
I should stress I don’t necessarily support the war or campaign but I do support the troops themselves.
Every year, as predictable as a rising sun, there is a news story about how a veteran is unable to sell poppies. In 2009 it was Jean Reno who was told he couldn’t sell poppies because he refused to fill in a risk assessment. Regardless of how daft some of us may view the policies of organisations at times, the fact remains that there were certain conditions in place and he refused to abide by the rules of the location he wanted to use to sell poppies. Instead he acted in a manner both stubborn and childish and as a result became a Daily Mail headline.
But this year there is a new moral outrage in town and it’s using social media.
This Facebook status is currently doing the rounds:
“I’ve just heard some really shocking news. The Royal British Legion are not selling poppies in certain areas on Nov 11 this year. This is because some minorities say that it will upset them. I say sod off … The poppy is a symbol of reverence for our fallen heroes of all the wars the BRITISH military have fought in. BRITAIN STAND UP AND SAY ‘WE WANT THE POPPY SOLD EVERY WERE IN THE UK’. THIS IS OUR RIGHT TO REVERE OUR FALLEN.. “
There is no link to the quotes by these minoritie and have the RBL been banned form selling poppies in certain locations?
Well no, ban is not the right word.
Apparently. The only reference even close to suggesting a ban or inability to sell poppies is thus: Birmingham Council were approached by the RBL so they could sell poppies on the 11th and 12th of November on High Street and New Street (notice just these two streets and not in the rest of the city, which I assume means they are able to sell elsewhere). Birmingham Council have a policy in place where only a limited number of sellers and charity collectors can operate in these areas at the same time. A not un-wise policy, otherwise you could find yourself over run with people accosting you for charities (Try walking down Princes Street here in Edinburgh on a Saturday. I give you 50 yards before your basic instinct kicks in and you try to force feed the charity collectors their own clip board).
The RBL simply hadn’t got it’s application in on time. There has of course been much uproar in places like the Telegraph and war veterans and poppy sellers are quick to pass their opinions, such as “Its an insult to our war heroes. Without them those fat-cat councillors would not be sitting in their council chambers on their extortionate salaries.” It’s not an insult at all, if the council were to waive this for the RBL then they set a precedent. The RBL should have got their application in sooner- they did have almost a year.
However, it is not all lost as both Oxfam and The Anthony Nolan Trust have kindly given up their slots to the RBL so they can collect and sell poppies. So that’s the story- an organisation failed to get it’s application in on time and this instantly becomes a race issue even though “Minorities are not upset about poppies being sold”. The fact these stories exist is an annoyance at most, but the real worry is that people are repeating the stories without bothering to check if there is any truth to them. Even people I consider rational friends have reposted this. It is an appeal to emotion and serves no purpose other than to help propagate hatred and distrust of minority groups. The status update is offensive to those who genuinely support the troops and to the troops themselves and the RBL- all of whom are being used to sell a myth that minorities are anti British.