Some of the tasteless and downright shameful tweets, comments, texts and smoke signals I have seen in the last 48 hours over the symbolism of a simple flower has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Let’s get this straight. There are Celtic fans who react to the symbol because of how fans of The Rangers (old and new) get behind it. Then vice versa ensues and thus we are in a vicious circle. There some of sort of innate inability from a significant number of fans of both clubs to recognise what the red poppy stands for. In the pursuit of oneupmanship on each side this has only resulted in an ever growing schism; one which has left what should be an act of remembrance lost to rhetoric. A humble period, remembering the Great Wars and the fight against Fascism, is being trumped by idiotic sledging between two sets of fans hell-bent on proving who is the most stupid.
Now, I know a lot of this stems from the way the poppy has been jumped upon by politicians, the BBC, the media and all sorts of other channels, but nonetheless, are we not better than that? I also know that the poppy has become a symbol for every skirmish started by our generally corrupt governments since the 40s.
Twitter is a-fire with Celtic fans goading The Rangers’s support over the poppy celebration being a hypocritical show of faux-loyalty on the back of last year’s non-payment of charity money and the little matter of the tax-evasion the club has been carrying out systematically over the last decade or so.
And you know what, there is some moral high-ground being sought in this battle by Celtic fans. But this is kinda being lost underneath a torrent of abuse at times. I say let The Rangers’s fans and club celebrate the poppy. It is their right and choice. None of the people running the new club right now was accountable for the misdemeanours of the past regime so they are entitled to mark the event as they see fit.
Is there a suspicion that Scotland’s newest club is doing this to galvanise its more militant support? Yes. Is there a suspicion that this support is lording it over the event in order to provoke a reaction from Celtic fans? Hell, yes.
Meanwhile, over the fence there are fans of The Rangers tweeting about ‘show the world why everyone hates tims’ and ‘taigs who oppose the poppy should remember the benefits system…’, or ‘fucking tims banning the poppy, paedo bastards.’
For me this is the saddest part. In many ways it smacks of them trying to bring us down to their level and to re-create the link that first resulted in the term O** F*** being coined. The worst part though is that we are reacting to it. If Inverness Caledonian Thistle celebrated in such a fashion would we care? I doubt it.
I am also acutely aware that for many Celtic fans the poppy symbolises the British rule and some of the crimes committed by the British Army in Ireland’s North in particular. There are a number of fans who see it as abhorrent that Celtic even has to recognise the poppy on its strip – white, red or multicolour – but there has to be an acceptance that Celtic is a club which straddles many cultures. This is a sensitive situation which puts the club in a lose-lose position should the fans choose to disrespect the minute’s silence tomorrow.
It is a person’s right to choose whether or not to wear a poppy.
Jon Snow summed it up best for me when he said, “Compelling people to wear poppies because YOU think they OUGHT to is precisely the Poppy fascism, or intolerance, that I have complained of in the past.” He was reacting to someone not being happy at the absence of a poppy on his jacket.
The bottom line is that many great Celts died serving in the wars and the club should recognise this, in its own way. If fans don’t want to be part of it they can opt-out but should do so quietly. There is no need to get involved in a bitching war with a bunch fans of a now defunct club who are seeking to grasp on to any facet of the past, especially in respect to linking to us. Indeed, there is a fine article on the official website on this matter today, read it here.
I hope the Celtic support at the stadium tomorrow cut through the crap and remember those from all over Europe, and the US, who died to protect us from Hitler and his like. If you wish to refrain from this, do it in your own way and in your own time. We have lauded all over the world this week for the Barcelona spectacle, let that be the norm.
Respect Celtic, respect the dead and respect yourself.