I naively thought after the coverage of the Labour leader and the national anthem that there would be a brief interlude before another stupid story about Jeremy Corbyn rose to dominate the minds of right-wing extremists, but unfortunately not. Following on my article on the politics of Remembrance Day, we have been treated with a completely non-ironic criticism of Jeremy Corbyn that involves compelling a human being to do as every else does and to be outraged if he doesn’t oblige. Here, ladies and gentleman, I present Jeremy Corbyn and the Cenotaph Witch-hunt.
Two days ago was Remembrance Sunday and there were ceremonies held around the country to remember those who had been killed in conflicts throughout the world. It is somewhat traditional, and obvious to anybody with any human decency, that this event shouldn’t be politicised. However the outrage-junkies that make up a significant proportion of the electorate have been offended by the actions of uber-leftie Jeremy Corbyn. What did he do that was so bad? Did he rape the Queen his republican penis? Did he shit on cenotaph whilst flipping the ‘V’ at crying veterans? No. He committed the cardinal sin of not bowing low enough after placing his poppy wreath.
Okay this is getting ridiculous. Specifically it is far-right extremists like those acquainted with Britain First that have taken this ‘incident’ as treason. Corbyn, in their eyes, has disrespected dead soldiers because he didn’t bow like a man entering a karate dojo. Furthermore it is Corbyn who has politicised this event because of the message on the poppy wreath that he placed at the Cenotaph, and by reading an anti-war poem at another remembrance service later in the day.
Now it’s time to wade through the bullshit. Jeremy Corbyn did bow his head, but that doesn’t matter because the point remains that there is an authoritarianism that is emerging that is hell-bent on criticising Corbyn for not doing what he should. Unfortunately this faux outrage isn’t only confined to far-right groups as Gerald Howarth, the former defence minister, labelled Corbyn “an embarrassment to our country”. At this point I would ask these far-right consternation-merchants who decides how people should act? If the answer to this question is you, then you’re advocating for a dictatorship, which is exactly what those people in WWI and WWII died to prevent.
Point two; they weren’t happy with what Corbyn had written because, according these Twitter twats, it was disrespectful to soldiers. Corbyn’s entire written piece on the wreath was: “in memory of the fallen in all wars. Let us resolve to create a world of peace”. I didn’t realise that calling for wars to be ended in the future, you know learning from history, is offensive to right-wing people. If calling for world peace offends you, you are an immoral person; there’s no other way to put it really, if somebody you ideologically disagree with says that it would be good if there was no more war, and you are deeply offended by that statement, you are a horrible human being and probably have never been in a war-zone.
The final point is related to the second one: Corbyn recited an anti-war poem at a remembrance service in his Islington North constituency. Firstly, these detractors seem to be supporting the restriction of Corbyn’s free speech, which is again ironic considering that this would have happened if Hitler had won WWII thus making the sacrifice of these soldiers to defend Britain pointless if these right-wingers had their way. Secondly, as I have already said, asserting that ‘war equals bad’ is not offensive to anyone that actually understands morality. Corbyn wasn’t specifically talking about any war in particular, just that the experience of it is horrible.
But the most hilarious piece of irony is the poem itself. Corbyn decided to read Futility, an anti-war poem written by arguably the most famous war-poet of WWI Wilfred Owen. By reciting this poem Corbyn has been castigated for dishonouring soldiers, however actually the opposite is true. The words that Corbyn said were not his own, they were Owen’s, so what these right-wingers are saying is that Wilfred Owen is disrespecting the memory of soldiers. Furthermore it reveals a hubris of these people that they feel that they need to assert what is the correct way to remember those who have died in war because they know best; I would have thought that quoting from an actual soldier who died in the First World War was at least relevant to a Remembrance Sunday memorial, but what do I know I’m just another pinko-leftie traitor.
In conclusion, this outrage about everything that Corbyn does is becoming maddening. For some reason these right-wingers refuse to debate the Labour leader on political issues and have resorted to ad hominem attacks about the way he chooses to remember dead soldiers. There is nothing that Corbyn did yesterday that warranted any outrage or any criticism, yet here we are. There were loads of pictures of poppies on social media platforms, many of which are captioned “lest we forget”, but it seems that the people who police this time of year have completely forgotten why fascism was hated and fought against.
I don’t want to belabour the point but if you are someone who is viscerally offended by somebody arguing that war is bad then you need to examine your moral compass. Without trying to be anecdotal, how many former WWI and WWII veterans have died and the families, when asked by news reporters, said something along the lines of “he didn’t really talk about the war”? There’s a reason why lots of people who were in those wars don’t talk about their experiences of them; they’re traumatising and evoke memories of hellish carnage. I’ll leave you with this, if the people who fought in these wars are desperate to remember their comrades but forget their experiences, nobody has any right call someone that advocates for world peace “an embarrassment”.