For some years wreathes of artificial purple poppies or metallic badges have been sold in the lead up to Remembrance Sunday to commemorate the animal victims of war. The main organisation promoting this has been Animal Aid. However Animal Aid has decided to stop selling and promoting the purple poppy because the “media” has seen animals as “valiant servants of people in violent conflict. This is precisely the opposite message to that which we intended.” The organisation has concluded that the dominant narrative of animals as heroes who have died for humans is apparently too culturally embedded to be eroded.
This seems somewhat defeatist. After all, the anti-war white poppy instituted by the Women’s Co-Operative Guild in the 1930s while not being widely accepted is nevertheless acknowledged as a alternative to the dominant red poppy – hence media questions to Jeremy Corbyn about what sort of wreath he will lay at the Cenotaph.
I cannot help but think that by giving up on building an alternative to dominant views Animal Aid has missed an opportunity to express the importance of remembering the unwarranted deaths of animals in human warfare.