Anybody else out there feel that all this Remembrance stuff that's all over the place is a teeny weeny bit hypocritical? Here we are again, remembering the "heroic sacrifice" of the First World War, while another set of young men go out to the Gulf and Afghanistan to be "heroic sacrifices" in another pointless war.
All those young men who died on the Somme (including among them, ancestors of my own family) didn't die for a great cause. Let us be clear about this: they died in vain, to support the flawed values of a bunch of tired empires trying to prop themselves up by killing young people. They were not heroes, great warriors going in to battle evil dragons; they were ordinary working people who died in their millions to uphold the great dragon of British imperialism. The Germans who they fought were also ordinary working men upholding their own dragon of imperialism. They were no doubt terribly loyal and patriotic and, like the well-brought up young people they were, they did as they were told.
But they were sold a lie. Just as the young men (often, in the case of American troops at least, poor and ill-educated) who march off to Iraq and Afghanistan are now. Watching the black-uniformed officers marching up to the Cenotaph to lay their wreaths makes me kind of sick. These people - or at least the politicians who declare wars - are still sending young men to die for British imperialism, pretending that it's a great sacrifice, invoking God and Christ as being on "our side", and it's just as much a lie now as it was then.
But there are still some brave souls who refuse. The conscientious objectors who refused to "go for a soldier", who refused to obey orders, who refused to prop up the dragon of hatred, prejudice and greed that is still what imperialism means, deserve to be saluted. They deserve their own monument. Refusing to kill is every bit as brave as going out to kill your "enemy." In fact, it's braver. Who is my enemy anyway? An ordinary Iraqi who gets in the way of a bullet? A young German man who's just come from the fields to die in another field?
The winner of the 7th Fortnight Prize is....
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