Lest We Remember

It finally dawned on me today when somebody asked me to buy a poppy for Remembrance Day:

Fuck the poppy. Fuck the breast cancer ribbon. Fuck Lance's Livestrong bracelet. And fuck all the rest, as well.

The idea that purchasing a plastic poppy replica will somehow help me remember the sacrifice of the veterans from World War II is intellectually lazy, in my opinion. I can't say it any more plainly than that. One is engaging in pure sign value in these transactions, use value being non-existent and exchange value the throwaway coins in one's pocket.

The same goes for the pink ribbon or the yellow rubber band and the constellation of other signs that we adorn ourselves with all too easily.

But the poppy might be most galling, because it isn't the act of remembering that takes place when you pin one on your lapel, it is the act of proving to everyone else that you are participating in the same sign system. It kind of reminds me of the prevailing political climate to the south, and I paraphrase:

Freedom of speech is what makes democracy great … so long as you agree with what the rest of us have to say.

Coming to grips with the role of war in society should be an intensely personal experience. The fact that a plastic poppy may be pinned to one's clothing as a substitute, for a sum comparable to what urbanites fling at the homeless on street corners every day, denies that experience in far too many cases.


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