Saturday, 12 November 2011

Lest we forget - again

I received (another) forwarded email this morning, which misleadingly attempted to whip up hatred of Muslims by comparing the £50 fines meted out to a few very nasty people who burnt poppies during last year's Armistice Day memorial with a six month prison sentence given to a protester who - the email said - had drawn a poppy on the front wall of the Jamil Mosque in Portsmouth, England, during a demonstration against the poppy-burners.

Of course, if you looked a little deeper into the matter than the ranting email wanted you to do, you would discover that the 6 month sentence was given to a member of the English Defence League (ex N.F., ex B.N.P - a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...) - a fascistic and utterly abhorrent group of British nazis who had hi-jacked the 'peaceful' demonstration - for public disorder offences, and not graffiti on the wall of a mosque.

At least this email originated in my country of origin, and wasn't sent to me from a stupid American red-neck survivalist, as so many others have been. It was sent by a stupid British red-neck instead, so I feel I am qualified to have an opinion on it.

The (65 year-old) bloke who forwarded this email to me is not exactly stupid, but he is obviously simple enough to be taken in by the very same sort of scum that our fathers fought WW2 to protect us against, and who probably composed the email for him to dutifully forward in the first place.

How ironic - 'demonstrations' by fascists taking place on Poppy Day, when we commemorate the sacrifices (on both sides) made by the very people who fought against them in two world wars, and still fight them today - 'them' in the form of 'Muslim' extremists like the despicable Taliban, etc. etc. Many Moslems fought in both world wars, and many Moslems still assist Nato Alliance forces today, not always carrying guns - the most dangerous job in Afghanistan is to be a translator. The British government promise the surviving translators that they will be granted a new life in Britain because, quite simply, they do not believe many will survive at all. The ones that have - it turns out - have been given a less than adequate welcome upon arriving with their families on British shores.

Below is the reply I sent to the forwarder (not all of the recipients) of the email. Do the world a favour: if you get a hate-fueled email like the one described above sent to you, try to instill a bit of reason into the sender instead of simply sending it on to others in a blind rage of indignation.

Dear John,

I briefly looked into this case, and - as far as I can make out - the sentence was handed out to a member of a British fascist group who had hi-jacked the peaceful protest about Muslims burning poppies, which took place outside (possibly inappropriately) the Jamil mosque. I believe it was for public disorder, and not simply graffiti.

There are nasty nutters in all groups of people, and justifiable demonstrations about poppy-burning are just as likely to be taken over by fascist extremists as Moslem demonstrations against Guantanamo are by Moslem fascist extremists.

It is highly likely that the email which you have dutifully forwarded on (why is it that everyone wants to go viral when they rant?) emanates from a highly unsavoury BNP source, and by unthinkingly forwarding it on as they have asked you, another bit of kindling has been chucked onto the fire which they would dearly like to see burning out of control.

Of course every sane, socially minded person was outraged at the burning of the poppies, but you have to remember that this included many Moslems, whose forebears fought and died in WW2, and whose friends and families are still dying as they assist western forces in fighting bastards like the Taliban, etc. To be a translator for British forces in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan is actually more dangerous than being an infantryman, and they are promised that - if they survive - they will be granted a new life in Britain along with the financial assistance they will need for themselves and their families, but it has recently come to light that few of them actually get the promised help from the British government via the army, and it has taken about 70 years and Joanna Lumley to get anything like fair compensation for the heroic Ghurkas, who have been assisting British forces since WW1. The two main obstacles were government meanness (now justified as essential cutbacks) and opposition from xenophobic organisations like the BNP.

I really think you should think twice before forwarding on deliberately misleading and hate-fueled, knee-jerk emails like this one.



  1. Would love to hear his response to this Tom....if you get one, that is.

  2. A village near where my parents live, 'Gamston', has recently been fuelling my rage regarding this 'anti' British sentiment.


    The Union Jack, our nations flag, has been flying with dignity outside the village hall (hut) since the royal wedding.

    Some local residents have complained that this is inappropriate and potentially inciting racial hatred...??!! Flying the Union Jack.

    Incredibly it is being given tv airtime, debate and consideration.

    ... I am currently looking into emigrating to (insert here), I'm so fed up with the appathy, scum and lack of any national pride.

    Is there somewhere that has no a) racist, corrupt skinheads trying to sully anything patriotic for there own evil ends and b) woolly thinking liberal arseholes who suggest that banning the public burning of a poppy is counterproductive and an affront to freedom of speech?

    My Grandads, who both saw thier mates die fighting exactly this crud, dying under that flag, for us, must be turning in thier graves...

    Fucking unbelievable that it's even up for debate.

  3. His response (as I was writing this post) Jacqueline, was "Suitably humbled, Tom." Not so humbled as he issued a retraction, though.

    There are even more problems with the English national flag, Chris. Those nazis will hijack anything, including the emblem of a Middle Eastern saint who somehow became the patron one for us, and a province in the vast area of old Soviet Russia.

    'Ther ain't no black in the Union Jack' was a chant of the old NF skinheads. As far as burning poppies goes, the right to do such a thing was enshrined by the very efforts of your grandparents and my parents, when burning books and Jews was the norm in other parts of Europe, so the authorities are between a rock and a hard place.

    One minute they are accused of heavy-handedness, the next, too lenient toward both the extreme right AND the extreme left.

    You have to remember (thanks to Uncle Joe) that the extreme left can be just as fascistic as the wooly liberals.

  4. (steps back onto soap box, tripping over his feet in the process)

    Trouble is, as I see it anyway, everything now is up for debate in the UK. Everything.

    Did all those people die in WW2 (for example) just so that a few decades later the contemporary population can turn around and let the same fascist bastards in through the back door? I suppose they did in a way, but it seems perverse.

    The fashion for introverted debate, about what I (naively) thought were fundemental moral truths regardless of nationality, colour or creed, it always seems to make us feel like we have to question whether it's ok to be British, ok be proud of our nation, heritage (which is a totally multi-cultural heritage after all), ok to fly the country's flag etc, without offending somebody.

    I find it offensive to burn poppies and equally offensive to be asked to remove a Union Jack just because some little BNP neo-nazi party has hijacked it for propoganda purposes.

    Where is speakers corner anyway...?

  5. Hyde Park. (Right next to Jekyll Gardens)

  6. We should go Tom. Set the world to rights...

    ...I'll bring the whiskey.

  7. “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire

    Problem is...the other guys don't get it!

  8. Sigh. This sort of stuff just goes on and on. Often not so full in the face. Often out of left field now. I was recently moved to leave a strong comment (OK a bit of a rant) on someone else's blog about Remembrance poppies as a fashion item ( paper poppies made by disabled veterans not being good enough for them to be seen out wearing) as it made my teeth hurt. The level of unintelligent response that it engendered from her follower trolls made me despair. They just didn't get it. There's more but I'm watching, "Sings The Beatles". It's all gone downhill since the sixties...

  9. I could not agree with you more. There are rednecks in all societies. That is why we have so many wars.

    Why is it so easy to spread hate and resentment? I naively think that most of us are too informed than to pay attention to such false rhetoric, but again, I am naive. I think it is too easy to despise than to think rationally. This happens on all sides and none are without guilt.

    I get so many of these hateful e-mails sent to me by "good Christians". I have written back to many, but they do not want to hear, they only want to hate. Unfortunately, hate has a voice, a very loud voice.

  10. Today, yesterday and the day before all the old blokes have sat outside the supermarkets as they do every year, giving away or selling plastic poppies.

    For Australians its about Flanders. At 11 am everything stops for the last post (even the radio) and the main street is closed and the war memorial is a crucible of white uniforms and flowers and tears.

    Once, on driving down the main street on Remembrance Day, I saw the gridlock ahead and realised it was one single man who had stopped in front of us for his minute's silence.

    The thing that gets me is that right now in Australia, Flanders poppies are flowering wildly. It's spring. Red poppies are everywhere. How did those history-makers work out that the ANZACS would have their poppies flowering on Remembrance Day? All the way from Flanders?