FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Abolish Poppies as a Symbol of Respect for the Dead

by MIKE EVANS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae

When I was 16 a friend and I were skating a spot in the Downtown Eastside here in Vancouver, Canada. It was a skate spot in a park that was known for heroin users, so you had to stay off the grass because there were heroin needles everywhere. As we were skating, a cry came out from not far away and there was a guy with his friend turning blue, with a needle in his arm as he overdosed. His cry fell on deaf ears to the people around who did nothing to help him, nobody even picked up a cell phone to call an ambulance. My friend and I walked down the street and told a cop, but he seemed less than concerned. I always wondered about that man and whether he died that day.

We used to always skate the war memorial site at the corner of Hastings and Cambie because of the knee high railings that surrounded the memorial. People would often times come up and berate us for disrespecting the site. We would always counter that they died for our freedom to do this and that we weren’t actually harming the memorial just the crappy railings in the run down park. So as I watched the remembrance day parade and listened to the ministers and esteemed politicians spew their bullshit and the ubiquitous plastic poppies attached to peoples chests, I got to thinking of this poem taught to every schoolchild, the jingoism that permeates this country and poppies.

Heroin interestingly enough comes from poppies. With the rape and occupation of Afghanistan by Canada poppies proliferated exponentially. So our glorious automatons were sent in to kill illiterate peasants, apparently for not respecting women – sickening coming from a country with a city that allowed 49 indigent women largely in the sex trade to disappear from the Downtown Eastside. The killer Robert Pickton could have been brought to justice in 1998 when he was charged for attempted murder of a prostitute he stabbed numerous times, but the Crown stayed the charges because she was high on drugs and couldn’t be a reliable witness. No efforts were made to help the women so she could testify in court. The Missing Women’s inquiry has found the VPD “incompetent”.

Not surprising from our Mounties where, “The culture of sexual harassment within the RCMP is so pervasive that the plaintiff was helpless to personally stop it and had to accept a certain level of tolerance of it, as complaining about it would only make matters worse.” I guess being a high profile spokeswoman on the Pickton case like Cpl. Catherine Galliford doesn’t stop you from being sexually harassed to the point of post traumatic stress. Even the RCMP physician Phil Little who was on the missing women’s investigation refused to treat her post traumatic stress and apparently violated her privacy by sharing the details of her medical file with her husband. I guess she’s lucky they didn’t disappear her into a meat grinder on a pig farm somewhere, but that only happens to the broken and the downtrodden that roam that particular neighborhood of Vancouver where the VPD could care less about you.

As I watched the poppies on peoples’ chests I wondered how many ordinary people in this country were aware of the contribution of Afghan poppies to the world drug economy. Drugs are the largest global commodity in terms of profit after the oil and arms trade. “Immediately following the October 2001 invasion opium markets were restored. Opium prices spiraled. By early 2002, the domestic price of opium in Afghanistan (in dollars/kg) was almost 10 times higher than in 2000.” The Guardian reported back in 2007 that Afghanistan had more land growing drugs then Columbia, Peru and Bolivia combined.

According to former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, in an article in the UK Daily Mail back in 2007, the highest harvests of opium the world has ever seen. Murray elaborated that, “Our economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into manufacturing and ‘value-added’ operations.” This means that Afghanistan “now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with NATO troops.” Our lovely former Prime Minister and Finance Minister, The Honourable Paul Martin, overseer of the Afghan war for a stretch, owns a shipping company. I’m curious to how much heroin has come over on his ships.

A kid from my hometown of Gibson’s BC was the first Canadian kid to die in a firefight in Afghanistan. I didn’t know him personally as I’m a bit older, but I know the town. A little town just 45 minutes from Vancouver, it is a messed up little town with lots of drugs. My younger brother was fed 11 hits of acid when he was 8 years old, which subsequently led to his childhood schizophrenia. It’s a town I desperately wanted to escape and finally did at the age of 15 right into East Vancouver. The area known as the Sunshine Coast is quite beautiful and it’s being heavily gentrified by affluent Vancouverites. It used to be a nice little fishing and logging town with a significant hippie population. The guy who fed my brother the acid died of a heroin overdose.

Drugs are big business and worldwide they are largely going into the coffers of bankers, gangsters, warlords and everyone’s favorite, the CIA.  We should abolish the poppy as a symbol of respect for the dead when thousands of humans have died for the poppy. The torch has been passed to us and we can use it to light a new fire under the masters of Canadian cultural hegemony that tell us we fight for human rights, female rights and our superior Canadian morals every god damn remembrance day or else we will all be marching toward the common grave red, black, brown, yellow or white for the profits of the few in some god forsaken poppy field.

Mike Evans lives in North Vancouver BC Canada and can be reached at mikeevans52@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail