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Letter to Editor: Wear a White poppy
anti-war / imperialism |
Sunday December 19, 2010 19:22 by Bill O'Brien
What follows is a letter written to the editor of the Donegal Democrat newspaper in November.
Letter to the Editor.
Wear a White Poppy
In Tuesday's the 9th of November’s Donegal Democrat, Paddy Harte was making his annual tribute to those who died in the First World War, I don't doubt he means well, but it is clearly time for a more balanced view. What comes across from Paddy is a glorification of war, and of course he's going to deny it is, but I'm sorry that is how I see it.
First let me deal with the way he deals with the history, he takes men who clearly fought for different ideas, and tries to put them all in the one camp, this is a disservice to all of them. May I deal with Tom Barry, he points out that Tom Barry was in the British Army since 1913, this is so; it was form his experiences and treatment by the officer board of that army that Tom Barry became disillusioned, came back to Ireland and fought the British Army for the rest of his life. In his autobiography he deals with his disillusionment, his youthfulness and the misguided politicians who sent them to war, that should be accepted by all, he knows that he was duped and gave himself no credits for being so.
Then Paddy tries to unite two brothers in death William Kent and Eamon Kent, Eamon was executed by those wearing British Army uniforms, he signed a document that gave thanks to our gallant allies in Europe, the same people that his brother William was fighting against. To put these two men together in this way is a disservice to the two of them. William Kent was killed for the King a year after his brother was executed by the King's men. Get off on stage Paddy and become real.
Paddy goes to Flanders every year, did he ever lay a wreath to our gallant allies in Europe? No. Did he ever lay a wreath to any of the 601 executed at dawn, especially the young Irishman executed for insubordination, one for not putting on his hat on. If you were Irish you had a 25% more chance of being executed for insubordination, desertion, ect, than a man from England, Scotland or Wales. Men from the two traditions were executed by a cruel officer class, for very little indeed. Anyone who was executed, was put in an unmarked grave, and their families at home got no pensions, they where left destitute. What does Paddy Harte have to say about that?
Paddy Harte said if Kevin Barry had been four years older he would have been in Khaki, how dare you Paddy Harte, he would have been in the 1916 rising. This young man, a student Doctor, was captured as a prisoner of war, badly treated and then executed. You cannot insult our glorious dead in this way, those who died in Flanders, could not lick his boots; that is no disrespected to those who died in Flanders, only to you Paddy Hart for the distortions. It is time to put a bit of respect, decency, balance and truthfulness into the whole topic. Those who went to Flanders were not answering Ireland's call; they were answering England's call and that of the King. The poor lads were duped.
Should we remember them, of course we should, but what should we not forget? We must never forget the perpetrators of the war, the British, the German, the Russian monarchists and capitalists. They sent a whole generation of European youth to their graves needlessly. The Germans and the Russians have no monarchies now, good, but the British have, and still send young men to die in needless war. Thankfully to the men and women of 1916 Ireland no longer has to do that.
The wearing of a white poppy would be fitting tribute to these people, the Red poppy is the poppy of the British Legion, and is to all British soldiers who died anywhere in the world, including Ireland. Should we honour the Black and Tans? No we should not, nor should we honour those who came after them, up to the present-day.
Finally I would like to deal with another aspect of the war; it was not a war for the freedom of smile nations. In 1915 Turkey, a peaceful, country was invaded, by two of the monarchists’ countries, Britain and Russia. Thousands died in Gallipoli,those sent there included 1000 Dublin Fusiliers, of whom only 12 survived. One of the survivors I knew and I worked with three of his sons, his name was John Whelan, he was a corporal and was credited with saving the other 11 lives, he was promoted on the battlefield to the rank of major, but when it came to him been demorped he was reduced to a sergeant, as he wasn't a commissioned officer in the first place. This is the class nature of the British Army to this day. They treat all working people shamefully.
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Who is this Paddy Harte character??? Sounds like he could give Kevin Myers a run for his money.
..the history right, it was that great statesman churchilll set up the Gallipolli fiasco. but then he had a few feathers in his cap dont get mentioned in the rose-tinted jingoist hindsight. Early use of chemical weapons, Bomber Harris' carpet bombing of civilian targets that provoked the London blitz as a way to solidify national morale, continuous subversion of the new Irish state through collusion with entrenched privelged Unionism....et al..
Good movie countering the bullshit war propaganda was For King and Country, with Tom Courtney as one of the 'shot-at-dawn' shell-shocked psychological casualties. Dalton Trumbo ploughed the same furrow with his novel 'Johnny Got His Gun'. He was blacked in Holywood(where he was a screenwriter)for his services above and beyond the call of servile subservience to militarised nationalism. The book, about a soldier reduced to a feeding-tube by a shell in Flanders was published shortly before the outbreak of round two, and immediately banned(in the national interest).
Our own James Plunkett outlined the real forces that motivated the 'plucky Tommy' in his stinking trench in Strumpet City where he finishes the story with the beaten strikers of the 1913 lockout being forced to resort to the recruiting office to feed their women and kids. All across Europe and beyond the 'excess' labour units were fed to the cannons 'to preserve our way of life and our freedoms' for the long-globalised Tory classes. just as they are sent today to defend 'our western way of life'. As the old song said, 'when will we ever learn?'.
Identifying an enemy abroad has always been a good policy for consolidating tyranny. America even does it by the subtle stroke of sticking a Black Bush in the gap.
Rory of the Hills asked:
Who is this Paddy Harte character?
Paddy Harte is a former Fine Gael TD and Government Minister who represented Donegal North East in the Dail. He received an honorary OBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 as a reward for his servility and boot-licking, even though he gets a minister’s and TD’s pension, paid for by the Irish taxpayer with borrowed money.
I agree with the letter to the Donegal Democrat. Millions of ordinary people butchered one another in WW1, in the interests of the various European ruling elites. To commemorate the dead on one side (without asking why they had to die) is a political act. People like Paddy Harte are glorifying militarism and imperialism and should be stripped of their Irish citizenship for accepting awards from foreign monarchs.
Where in dublin can one buy a white poppy?