It illustrates how far we have both progressed and regressed as a society that many years ago an ancestor of mine would be fighting in a foreign land, scared shitless and desperately wishing to be anywhere but in a rat-infested, shell-bombed trench, shivering in his dampened, blood-stained uniform whereas the bane of my life at present is Facebook reposts.
Cut and paste affairs on social network sites have long been a source of great irritation to me; the light-hearted fare is virtual office humour for mum-brains and those who think that One Direction are culturally relevant. The more serious ones usually cater for the modern-day Alf Garnetts amongst us. Very rarely will you see a left-wing repost. Perhaps – generalising wildly here – it’s because liberal souls are more free-thinking?
Whatever the subject matter it's seemingly de rigour for each to end with the following or a variation thereof – ‘Most won’t dare to repost this. Will you?’
Quite why it requires courage to pass on a horrendously unfunny joke about how a man’s penis is the size of his thumb or some skewed slice of anti-Islamic ignorance is beyond me. Usually in such instances however I content myself with a private scowl then move on.
But not this week. As Remembrance Day approached I noticed a raft of virtually identical reposts cluttering up my newsfeed, each concentrating their Clarkson-esque ire upon the entirely fictionalised idea that someone was trying to stop them from wearing a poppy on Friday. They all began with a solemn vow to remember the war dead before dashing off into a land of crazy, spewing forth a hate-filled rant about some invisible enemy who should ‘F*** OFF BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT’.
At the risk of sounding like a pretentious snob I’m not expecting to find Wildean wit and discussions on the latter works of Chomsky on a site that’s usually used to deride the latest X-Factor evictee or to inform glorified strangers what they’ve had for their tea but this was another matter entirely.
Making something that should be about dignified reflection into hate is precisely what they want.
Granted there are small extremist groups, most notably the Muslims Against Crusades, who plan protest marches on these occasions and do egregious acts such as burn poppies - and regrettably my thoughts towards such people does not tally with a liberal mind that is a staunch supporter of democracy - but in reality they make up a minuscule, barely-registrable percentage of the nation’s population. By sullying commemorations for our war dead with messages of hatred and division right-minded people are merely giving such groups an over-inflated value and playing exactly into their hands. Making something that should be about dignified reflection into hate is precisely what they want.
It is also, let’s be honest here, a touch hysterical; a succumbing to our sensationalising media and the power of word-of-mouth. Let’s not look back at fifties America and chuckle at their red-under-the-bed paranoia when such nonsensical delirium is common-place in modern, supposedly savvy and switched-on, Britain. Concentrating a large portion of your online elegy to our deceased forefathers with such bile towards an inconsequential enemy is akin to walking into a family funeral spoiling for a fight because somewhere in the UK an individual once burnt down a vicar’s house.
Furthermore, and perhaps most vexing, such xenophobic, small-minded antagonism goes directly against what our grandparents fought so bravely to prevent.
I apologize for forcing home the point here but Hitler and the Jews anyone? ‘Fuck off back to your own country if you don’t like it’. There is a shared sentiment there that I’m not personally comfortable with at all.
While I am not for an instant suggesting that any disgraceful disrespect towards our fallen should be ignored or tolerated perhaps vitriol towards such groups should not be aired in conjunction with our remembrance. Because our forefathers fought and died to prevent such division. Lest we forget.
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