All children should be made to wear poppies, says Peter Whittle

With what amounts to staggering insensitivity and arrogance, the left-leaning Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), it was reported this week, is to publish a report saying that the celebration of Christmas should be downgraded to improve race relations.

In the interests of “evenhandedness”, the report says, and “if we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas - it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life, even if we wanted to - then public organizations should mark other religious festivals too” (my italics).

The timing of this pronouncement from one of the government’s favourite think tanks is extraordinary, given that, in the past few weeks, the wall of obfuscation, evasion and downright dishonesty which has for years surrounded the immigration and multiculturalism debate has finally started to crumble under the weight of reality.

However it shows that at the heart of the new establishment there remains a cultural self-loathing and lack of sympathy with the very idea of a national culture, something which is illustrated clearly in the wording of the above quote.

Next week, another annual national ritual takes place with Remembrance Day. The wearing of poppies remains a simple and universal way in which the public can show their respect for those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Of course, with their extraordinary inverted logic, the so-called ‘peace’ lobby tends to eschew such gestures. We’ve come to expect this. Poppy-wearing is least in evidence on university campuses, or among gatherings of the self-appointed citizens of the world. Last week, I spoke at a conference attended by those who would mostly characterise themselves as being on the liberal left. Among the hundreds of the apparently caring, concerned individuals there, I saw not a single one wearing a poppy.

However amongst the wider population, it is becoming increasingly clear how this simple piece of quiet national commemoration has fallen foul of the disastrous social fragmentation which the IPPR, with its statements on Christmas, seems intent on promoting.

In particular, it is noticeable with each passing year how few members of ethnic minorities wear poppies. This is hardly surprising when one considers how different groups have been encouraged by the liberal establishment to retain their own cultures at all costs. Remembrance Day is seen as a tradition of the majority culture, of little relevance to minorities, and thus not one to be unduly encouraged.

This is completely wrong. If Remembrance Day is to remain, as it should, part of our national annual life, then the background and meaning of it must be explained at the first opportunity to all people living in this country. It is very simple. The best way would be for all primary school children – an increasing proportion of whom are from ethnic minorities – to be issued with a free poppy which they should wear for a week up to Remembrance Sunday itself.

It should be fully and fairly explained to them what is behind this small gesture. The prejudices and bigotry of the educational establishment should not be allowed to intrude.

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Submitted by dominichilton on Sun, 2007-11-04 11:52.

Derek Tipp (not verified) | Sun, 2007-11-04 18:34

I would be against this, as it is removing freedom of choice,which is what our servicemen were fighting for.

Chris (not verified) | Sun, 2007-11-04 20:14

I agree. Our ethnic minorities have even more reason to wear the poppy as if it had not been for the sacrifice of our men and women many of them would probably have suffered horrendously under Hitler.

The poppy is for all of us, regardless of our background.

jay (not verified) | Sun, 2007-11-04 22:18

Speaking as an ex serviceman and poppy wearer I think that wearing poppys should be entirely voluntary, I would never coerce my children into wearing poppys but when my daughter(aged 5 ) asked why I was wearing one and asked if she could too I was only too happy to take her out and let her contribute.

I feel that adults should never prosletyse to children but allow them to make there own decisions in there own time

Jay

Jason O'Mahony (not verified) | Mon, 2007-11-05 14:20

How about making every child carry a mini-copy of the Human Rights Act around with them as well? It's British Law isn't it? Signed by the HRH the Queen? Symbolises modern British values as enacted by Parliament?

That way, we'll satisfy both the headbanger right and left.

Actually, strike that. Let's have the kids carry a union jack in their other hand and we'll nail the poppy to their foreheads. Can't get more patriotic than that!

Opinionated (not verified) | Mon, 2007-11-05 14:31

I quote:

"In particular, it is noticeable with each passing year how few members of ethnic minorities wear poppies. This is hardly surprising when one considers how different groups have been encouraged by the liberal establishment to retain their own cultures at all costs. Remembrance Day is seen as a tradition of the majority culture, of little relevance to minorities, and thus not one to be unduly encouraged"

Could you please produce some statistics to back up the statement "...how few members of ethnic minorities wear poppies..." as I wouldn't want to think of this article as some ridiculous knee-jerk reaction to anecdotal evidence and plain opinion.

I, by the way, whole hearted support Rememberance day, but see very little value in forcing people to support the day. In fact, one sure-fire way to put children off something is to force them to do it.

Hugh Morrison (not verified) | Tue, 2007-11-13 11:43

As a libertarian I would reject completely the compulsory wearing of poppies. It must be a voluntary act, and it is heartening to see that even in today's fragmented society the poppy is still widely worn - far more so than any other charitable symbol I can think of.

I also have not noticed a lack of poppies being worn by ethnic minorities - in fact the other day I saw two ladies in Ghanaian national dress on the tube, both wearing poppies. In London, the majority of churchgoers are from the ethnic minorities, and so are quite probably more likely than the 'natives' to attend a service of remembrance.

Whilst I agree that the liberal-left intelligentsia seem intent on downplaying any event that promotes the concept of British national identity, the compulsory distribution of poppies through schools smacks rather too much of New Labour state-enforced patriotism.

Wear your poppy with pride, not compulsion.

Paul Knowlson (not verified) | Fri, 2007-11-16 17:49

Chris, you said:

Our ethnic minorities have even more reason to wear the poppy as if it had not been for the sacrifice of our men and women many of them would probably have suffered horrendously under Hitler

Chris, it seems that it is you who is in need of some education. The sacrifice made by Indian, African and West Indian soldiers was immense --- it is a debt that shall never be repaid. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim Indian soldiers were killed and injured in the two World Wars. For anyone not to acknowledge this, or make accusations of ethnic minority children needing to recognise what 'we' did for 'them', many of whom have ancestors who fought in the two World Wars (I am married to a Sikh lady whose great grandfather and grandfather served in Europe) is as obscene as those who wish to deny in totality the whole meaning of Remembrance Day. It also projects them as being outside the history of this country, even though their forefathers died and fought against Nazism, and is divisive and discriminatory. If you want 'ethnic minorities' to feel part of our national story don't treat them like outsiders and don't condescend to them, especially when it comes to their contribution to the war effort, which was exemplary and should never ever be questioned or over looked.

Paul Knowlson (not verified) | Fri, 2007-11-16 19:54

Chris, hundreds of thousands of Indian, African and West Indian soldiers, many of them ancestors of the ethnic minorities that live in Britain today, died or were injured in the two world wars. Saying that ethnic minorities were not a part of the national narrative is incredibly crass and ignorant.

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