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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Poppycock

What we are saying is that man is an imposter. He is not the naive scientist he passes for. Instead, he is a slobbering sentimentalist. He pretends to square his view of the world to new facts and experiences. But what he really does is pry the facts into whatever self‐delusion is popular. Like a fat woman trying on a new pair of jeans, he forces the flesh into the space fashion allows and holds his breath to make it fit.

For instance, is there anyone in London who does not wear a red poppy on November 11? The paper flowers are everywhere. They are seen in boardrooms and in supermarkets. Television presenters wear them. The Queen wears one. Ministers show them off on pulpits. A lapel without one seems naked, as if it just stepped out of the shower.

The flowers that bloom in the week of Remembrance Day mark someone as a patriot, as a person of compassion… and as a sentimental fool. London goes silent, commemorating with all its heart the day the guns fell silent on the Western front. But it is not the heart we are worried about here.

What is it really that the English remember in those silent seconds of Remembrance Day? The practical ones focus on shopping lists. A few romantics think of lovers. But pity the Brits with a sense of history or a photo of the Queen in their living room. They search for pride and meaning and find only poppycock. People can't seem to honor fallen soldiers without wanting to wrap the corpses in a lie. Everywhere, the dead Tommies are praised ...

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