We remember those who have given their lives so that we may have our freedoms. We wear our poppy if we choose to do so, we honour those who have fallen in the most horrific of circumstances and teach our children about the World Wars.
But what actually are we commemorating?
Is it, for example, an act of National pride that we must wear our poppies? Is the poppy, as FIFA would lead us to believe, a political symbol?
Certainly some right wing groups, notably Britain First, have hijacked the poppy in recent years in order to spread their name far and wide on social media seemingly unaware that their brand of extreme Nationalism is precisely what The Fallen have freed us from.
And in 2016 we should remember this more than ever.
The political tone is moving further to the right. In the UK the referendum on whether the UK should remain a part of The European Union was marred by a campaign poster based on a Nazi propaganda film. Newspapers supporting Brexit constantly publish stories blaming migrants for the problems in this country, most notably a newspaper that was publicly in favour of The Third Reich in the 1930’s. Sadly, owing to the drip drip tactics of the media in question it is a wide held belief that there are people who flee persecution in a war torn country, leaving behind all they ever owned, risk the lives of themselves and their families on crossing the Mediterranean Sea on a small raft before crossing the Channel in order to try and jump the queue for their £65 a week. In actual fact it is only the middle classes of countries such as Syria that have the resources to make it this far, the doctors, health workers, the educated, those people who we would welcome in normal times but that doesn’t get reported quite as widely.
The real problem with this is that while extreme Nationalists like Farage and his UKIP followers or Newspapers such as The Daily Mail constantly force their agenda upon the British people they will nudge what is acceptable further each time until their message becomes the new normality. But hatred sells papers. I believe in the freedom of the press, however, we are becoming desensitised to extreme views, to the likes of The Mail, Express and Sun screeching that anyone who is opposed to their Utopian Fascist view of Britain are enemies of the people. We can’t object to the independent press complaints board as it’s chaired by the editor of The Daily Mail. The Sun complains about millionaire “foreigners” forcing their views on Brits without any hint of irony that they are the mouthpiece for a Billionaire Australian who now lives in America for tax reasons.
I live in a country where it is now an insult to call someone liberal.
Well, if believing in Human Rights, investment in education, health care for all, freedom of movement and the judging people on what they can contribute to society rather than their age, gender, ethnic background or any other level of discrimination is an insult then I can take it on the chin. So can many others apparently as the “Stop Funding Hate” campaign is growing rapidly, a campaign that encourages to stop companies advertising in newspapers that make money from their continuous publication of hatred.
We look across the pond to America where the recent Presidential election. Here we also see that extreme right wing views have surfaced. The winner of the election, Billionaire Donald Trump, has mocked the disabled, insulted Muslims and Mexicans, boasted on camera of abusing women, threatened hecklers with physical violence and political opponents with jail. And yet America voted for him. The preferred candidate of the Ku Klux Klan. Sound familiar?
We must remember from history. We must learn that extremism will raise it’s ugly head at times in society when we choose to let it, when we don’t oppose it, when we think our vote doesn’t matter. It is therefore the fault of liberals after all. The fault of those who are disengaged with politics, the fault of those who don’t care. Political opposition needs to be strong in order to check and balance those who wield power. Currently in both Britain and The States we have the weakest oppositions ever.
We remember today the millions who lost their lives in World Wars where extremism was finally defeated and it was vowed that it must never happen again. Now, in 2016, we need to remember this more than ever.