So it turned out that this year’s great Poppy Day Controversy was not even in Norn Iron. It was in Goodison Park where Everton FC were hosting Sunderland AFC (and James McClean from Derry). The Manchester United Fan Site (Red Cafe) has now 332 posts on the subject…..including this one from me.
There are two quite seperate issues and his detractors do not want to seperate them.
The current obsession with wearing poppies is a comparatively new thing. It was quietly dying out and was revitalised by the unpopularity of wars such as Iraq after 2001.
The Americans have a more militaristic attitude. US Marines and military fly overs at Superbowl and discounts for military families and cheering them at airports etc……all this was unknown in Britain until less than ten years ago. Now the sight of military personnel at Wembley or Premiership football grounds is a common site. I am not saying it is right or wrong……just comparatively “new”.
But a strange thing that when wars abroad were unpopular (including military families)…..there was an orchestrated campaign to “back our boys” which is of course entirely reasonable except that it is a bit cynical.
Therefore we have the invention of a military covenant (which PR company dreamed that up) and the “spontaneous emotion” at Wootton Bassett which was later siezed on by the PR people.
Frankly the respect that is shown now is in sharp contrast to the 502 killed in Norn Iron….no televised homecomings in the 1970s. And lets be honest…the course of history might well have been different.
In Norn Iron itself….and I live here (60 years and counting) there is a concept called “Parity of Esteem” meaning the two nationalities have equal status…..yet curiously on BBC/UTV all presenters wear poppies. Which would be ok if there was no pressure.
And I think…….coming from an Irish background……and generationally I would have enormous difficulty in wearing one ………while there is any pressure (official or merely peer pressure) to so do. Paradoxically I might have less problem if I thought there was no pressure.
In Norn Iron we have the annual poppy controversy.
Somewhere some British person (aided by a unionist politician) will complain that he/she was told to remove a poppy at work.
Likewise some Irish person (aided by a nationalist politician) will complain that he/she felt “intimidated” or under pressure to wear one.
Can Marks & Spencer sack an employee who doesnt wear one.
Is a shop assistant in British Home Stores entitled to be abused because a customer complained they arent wearing a poppy.
Should anyone be victimised for wearing one?
Yet ironically the people abusing James McClean for exercising a right not to be associated with a poppy are the same people who would defend the right (quite properly) of an employee at an airport to wear a christian cross…..and/or the right of a young muslim to wear/not wear head-dress.
If James McClean had exercised his right to wear a poppy……he would have been doing the right thing.
James McClean exercised his right not to wear one……again the right thing to do.
The long and short of it is people who say he was wrong dont believe he has a right to refuse.