I have found the outcry over FIFA banning the poppy due to their ban on all political (as well as religious and commercial) messages, strange to listen to. I thought, ‘wow, what a privilege’. To have a highly emotional deeply held moral belief be defended as a sort of fundamental human kindness, deeper than politics, deeper than bias. That’s immensely validating, it must be nice.
I saw double standards at play. You’ll find that women and people of colour have highly emotional, deeply held beliefs about the racism and sexism they face, indisputably manifested in major political figures who have gone on to win the election and be President. We were told that Trump’s misogyny was ‘one opinion of him’, radio shows had debates about whether “grab ’em by the pussy” was really that bad, the belief that ‘a vote for Trump is a support of sexism’ was portrayed as one bold political stance, up for being torn apart by experts. As if unfolding on an objective realm of debate higher than humans in their everyday lives. The concept of racism and what exactly constituted it was over-hyped so as to cloud and disempower the claims that his remarks and actions were racist. We were asked ‘where is the evidence?’. Well, where’s the evidence that we should respect soldiers who lost their lives fighting for us?
As grand and noble as the poppy is, it’s getting more respect than the fears of minorities under Trump’s rule, which I think is unfair and suspect. I don’t think all the reasons for this are quite as pure and respectable as the original symbolism of the poppy. Timeless gratitude portrayed in a beautiful ritual by people who couldn’t even have known what exactly it was like, is something which warms my heart. But the idolatry is growing too strong and breaking its bonds. Standing motionless in a shopping centre at 11am today, for the first time those 2 minutes felt vacuously silent rather than solemnly silent to me. The Americans have just voted Trump in on the basis of campaign which was chock full of eerie remnants of Hitler and Nazism – dehumanising a demographic and blaming the country’s problems on them. Us Brits have just voted to abandon the solution former generations, who really did see the sacrifices made for us today, put in place so as to make sure so much hate and torture could never take place again. So that we would never forget. Given our cruelty towards fleeing refugees, I think we forgot.
So I think the poppy is one of the most political things going on at the moment. To my mind, politics is about figuring out what is the best way to live together, how to interact with each other, and what is the kindest thing to do. These pursuits are often designated ‘feminine’, which is of course a derogatory thing. It’s ‘cattiness’, it’s ‘gossip’, it’s the girly drama of ‘he-said-she-said’. Although I find the TOWIE and Made in Chelsea genre of TV show too forced and scripted to enjoy, I think there’s something illuminating and unhelpful about the knee-jerk hate and snobbery towards programmes which explore how we treat each other, how we should have treated each other, what character traits are the good ones and what they mean, how they come about, how we cope, and what kind of ugly issues rise again and again when people live together.
There’s nothing lowly and un-masculine about it. Haven’t you heard, May was the ELEVENTH person President Trump called? Like, do you think they still have a special relationship? Boris has gone and whinged at people upset by Trump’s election, who does he think he is?! Why does he have to get involved? Merkel – she stood up for herself, and now that’s admirable. And oh my God Trump isn’t allowing press in the White House, what the fuck might he be up to?! You know who will know, Putin might…
This is politics. This is all politics. Life is politics (don’t let them intimidate you and prize politics out of your hands!). You can ban politics if you like, but you’re banning standing up for fellow human beings and in fact, nothing comes above that. Being together is a fundamental part of our being at all.
“Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either above humanity, or below it”