Rememberance Day Thread Callout November 11, 2001 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Better to talk about it here than there. Thoughts on the Rememberance Day/Memorial Day[?]/Armistice Day thread?
posted by Marquis to Etiquette/Policy at 11:48 AM (27 comments total)

My thoughts (which I didn't feel were appropriate for my post in the thread proper): The initial link was too long, too unclear in meaning. (As rushmc said, one stanza would have done fine.) Early posters (and some late ones) were insensitive to both the global scope of Remembrance Day, and that of MeFi. Also, people like to yell at other people.

Unfortunately, I think the tone for the entire thread was set by the early contributions by j.edwards, etc., who due to the link's unclear nature, misunderstood it.

Should all of the criticism be focused on the initial bad-ish post? Or should something also be said about the jump-on-the-bandwagon, be-self-righteous-and-mocking mood of many of the replies?
posted by Marquis at 11:55 AM on November 11, 2001

Thanks for posting this, Marquis. Some people will welcome the chance of discussing this case further. So here are my two cents:
It's a well-intentioned post and generated an interesting and honest thread. However it has two problems(and one redundancy), apart from the general point I raised there:

1) No description. This is becoming more and more frequent. Teasers and cryptic intros are fine in advertising but don't make sense(or work)here.

2) Its preachy tone. Everybody hates taking orders. We're not school-children and posters shouldn't be headmasters.("MetaFilter readers wherever you are, please take a moment of silence to honour those who gave their lives so that we could live ours. " is sweet, but ultimately patronising).

Put the two together and people who haven't the faintest idea of what the poem's about are actually being asked to take a moment of silence for what and whom? The New York firemen? It is two months, to the day, since September 11.

3) So there's an element of redundancy. Poppy-wearers(such as myself, as a lot of Portuguese soldiers died in the Great War)do not need to be reminded or told to hold a moment of silence. Non poppy-wearers and the great majority of U.S. MeFis who were not aware of Remembrance Day deserved an explanation. It is a foreign commemoration. Being shouted out and condescended to by those in the know is just not fair.

Add to that the fact that it was a linkless post which could quite easily have been shored up with some new links and up-to-date information. For instance, on the significance of the poppy and the different ways it is celebrated. It could also have a polemical slant, asking, for example, why the U.S. doesn't celebrate it.

That said, it is a very interesting case for MetaTalk, though. It's often said that lazy or bad posts generate great threads. And I, for one, would have hated to miss this one. I guess the most curious aspect, for me, is the enormous cultural divide between the U.S. on the one hand and Canada, U.K. and Western Europe on the other. We seem to know a hell of a lot more about you than you do about us. Proportionally more than any difference in power, for instance. Canada plus the European Union is much bigger and richer than the U.S.
But, on the other hand, what's the percentage of non-U.S. Mefites? 10, 15%? Don't we have Canadian, English, French or Portuguese MetaFilter homes to go to? Er, no...

posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:32 PM on November 11, 2001

I think the original post is mostly to blame. Like the much-maligned threads of the past few weeks, it's clear that users here don't like being told to do anything. The post looked like another "you should feel X about Y because I say so." A user not knowing it is remembrance day would see it as another call to mourn about an issue because the original poster said so.

That was my first thought after seeing the post, without seeing any of the comments.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:33 PM on November 11, 2001

My explanation is here. Matt, if you're reading, can you please change the link that I posted to the new one here? (Thanks)

I first heard the poem in grade 1 when I was 6. Even after 15 years, the poem still hits me hard. It embodies the spirit of the war; the understanding of the sacrifices made, the idea that we are passed "the torch", to ensure that we learn from those before us - to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

I posted it, knowing full well it was a "Canadian" thing. I hoped that others would read it and feel what I feel when I read the poem.

Instead I got a whole bunch of whiny, inconsiderate posts basically telling me to shut up. I'm starting to get pretty sick of it. I've been visiting MeFi a lot less recently. It's starting to turn into Slashdot. But that's a discussion for another thread altogether.

Thanks go out to the people who did get something positive out of my post though.

posted by PWA_BadBoy at 12:36 PM on November 11, 2001

As for asking for a moment of silence, I usually don't remember to do it at 11 am on November 11th unless I'm watching TV or I'm in school and someone reminds me to.

Sorry if the post came off the wrong way. I wrote it at 4 am in the morning.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 12:41 PM on November 11, 2001

Flander's Field is a famous poem. I don't see how other people's ignorance to what it is, is to blame. He did provide a link.

That said he should have taken out that last sentence about a moment of silence, brought it down to one stanza and maybe explained a little more. Then it would have been better (maybe).
posted by geoff. at 1:24 PM on November 11, 2001

We seem to know a hell of a lot more about you than you do about us. Proportionally more than any difference in power, for instance. Canada plus the European Union is much bigger and richer than the U.S.

I suspect (this is a guess) that the knowledge a typical, intelligent U.S. citizen has of a given other nation in the EU (or Canada) is nearly proportional to the difference in power between those two countries, however. And there is a greater awareness (though still probably not proportional) of those things you can say about the European nations as a whole (e.g., they like each other far more than they like the U.S. ;) ), but in fact that is a very diverse group, and there is, after all, a hell of a lot to know about its members. On the other hand, the U.S., too, is extremely diverse, and I imagine most Europeans know relatively little about its diversity -- both geographic and cultural.

As for the post in question, I also didn't know what it was in reference to until someone explained in the comments. I wish PWA_BadBoy had done so. The poem may be famous, but if it truly is universally known it didn't need to be posted here. I especially wish BadBoy hadn't been so self-righteous here; no doubt we can expect more angry posts to come, instead of deserved appreciation for his main intention.
posted by mattpfeff at 1:37 PM on November 11, 2001

mattpfeff: The link that I posted should have explained a lot. Unfortunately the author of the link decided to reorganize his website yesterday.

I thought that around the world, November 11th is typically a day of some sort of rememberance (It's called Veteran's day in America right?) which I thought would explain enough. But I guess I was wrong.

posted by PWA_BadBoy at 1:51 PM on November 11, 2001

In the U.S., November 11th is more in honor of all veterans, living and dead; America's Memorial Day is closer in spirit to the Day of Remembrance in Canada and Europe. It also turns out (I didn't know this) that the wearing of poppies in honor America's war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. (This all from the offical Veteran's Day website FAQ.)

(I should say, regardless, I am glad to have been reminded of today's significance.)
posted by mattpfeff at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2001

Our (U.S.) Veteran's Day tends to focus on the veterans who are still around. Our Memorial Day is like Remembrance Day. It's a subtle difference and not a hard and fast rule, but I was confused by the poem because that's not usually the flavor of Veteran's Day here. Or should I say flavour?

In fact, Veteran's Day has never (in my lifetime) been a particularly weighty day in the US, probably because of Vietnam guilt. People are getting more attentive, but even those of us who agree with the reason for the appointed day of respect bristle at the notion of being told to be respectful on that day.

posted by dness2 at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2001

I agree with Miguel's original comment. It's filler, and in a certain sense--minus the vitriol--the case isn't that different from people objecting to Onion/Times/whatever links. We all have easy access to calendars, and as far as I'm aware, this is a pretty standard literature class study piece, ie: we know about the poppies.
Pretty standard bad post: no description, no new information, and so on. The thread then degenerated from one person blowing up and another blowing back at them ad nauseum.
posted by Su at 3:04 PM on November 11, 2001

Was the link unclear, or were people embarrassed to discover their own ignorance about the topic? I guess.....the second. Because even if you didn't know it was Rememberance Day, even if you had never heard the poem read aloud, even if you had never put a poppy on your lapel or stood at a cenotaph at 11am on November 11th and given a moment of silence, surely it is ignorance that allows people to read a poem that mentions a signifigant battlefield, in a signifigant war, by name and still not 'get' what the post was about, or better still, to automatically assume it was about America.

The link ought to be perfectly clear to anyone with any historical knowledge, or anyone who grew up or lived in a Commonwealth country, and anyone from a Commonwealth country would certainly expect to see that poem at some point during the day, so really, the problem seems to me that the link wasn't to, the New York Post, celebrities getting themselves some press, or some American politician or political wannabe, and therefore American users decided to shoot the messenger and remain ignorant, rather than ask questions, Google the phrase 'flander's fields', or assume that perhaps there is something outside of America that they hadn't heard of before, but might consider learning something about.

As well, the content from the page linked contained some rather controversial items that could have sparked a rather interesting debate (such as the text from Churchill's speech denigrating America for entering the war, and blaming the rise of Hitler and the Second World War on their arrival at the 1st), but far be it from me to suggest a debate when clearly, it was way more fun to post ignorant and insulting commentary.
posted by kristin at 4:39 PM on November 11, 2001 was way more fun to post ignorant and insulting commentary

if you were into suggesting a debate rather than talking smack, there's always the original thread to do that in. there were probably better ways to say "hey, it's a holiday somewhere on the planet, let's all think nice thoughts" than the way the post was presented.

that was my only major thought. front page poetry can be awkward at best, and telling people what to do often comes off poorly. assuming that anyone "with any historical knowledge" will know what you are talking about is just as presumptuous as people knocking posts that are or aren't America-centric.

to broaden the cultural sensitivity here, not everyone grooves on wars, battlefields, conflicts and/or national holidays. what if the post had been about Christmas? "hey everyone, the baby jesus was born today!!"

it's everyone's MetaFilter, so folks tolerate a lot of people saying "everyone should care about this" when they clearly don't, won't, or can't. I think the poem was interesting, the holiday memo was good to know, and the post could have been better put, shorter, and more thoughtfully linked.

posted by jessamyn at 5:18 PM on November 11, 2001

Was the link unclear, or were people embarrassed to discover their own ignorance about the topic? I guess.....the second.

You'd be wrong. The link was extremely unclear, as it was a 404 page. Doesn't get much less clear than than. No one assumed it was about America, any more than anyone assumes anything to be automatically within their personal frame of reference.

Google the phrase 'Flanders' fields'

Why should I have to turn into Encyclopedia Brown every time someone posts something that I don't immediately grok? It would seem to me that the burden of clarity would lie with the poster, not the reader. At least, that's how it works IRL.

it was way more fun to post ignorant and insulting commentary.

Well, I'm of two minds about this one. Once someone did me the favor of providing some context, I had to admit that my initial comment came off sounding flip and crude. Once again, I meant no disrespect to anyone's honored dead. My negative comments regarding a post about Remembrance Day does not mean that I lack respect for those people remembered. I would think that would be fairly obvious, although, judging by the amount of (self) righteous indignation on display in the thread, it would appear that I was wrong in that regard.

Oh, and I don't like to be told how to remember dead warriors. I generally remember them with a mixture of awe and pity, because, likely as not, they died for no reason at all, tools of some political or strategic agenda about which they cared or understood little. Not much to celebrate there. And Remembrance doesn't seem to be helping us to avoid the repetition of our past, warlike, mistakes. Which will I fear, lead to no shortage of Remembrance Days, far into the future.
posted by Optamystic at 5:26 PM on November 11, 2001

Gah. The discussion got off to a bad start because the poster assumed the subject-matter was immediately obvious. (As did I: I was surprised by the number of "huh?" comments. But I've never spent a November in the US. And I've learned something about the cultural baggage of watching 20-odd November mornings at the Cenotaph on BBC1.) That surprise plus the fairly emotive subject matter equals defensive indignation (including my own comment, mea culpa) and it's downhill from there. I'd note that this year's July 4th thread made some of the same assumptions, although in a much less oblique manner, and led to a really interesting thread. But I think nerves are a little frayed here, and that sense of "The US vs. the world vs. the US" is reflected in the tone of the discussion.
posted by holgate at 5:43 PM on November 11, 2001

Holgate: Yes, as did I make some assumptions about the relevance of this day around the world. My mistake.

Also, I thought I'd throw this link up. It's the google cache of the page I was looking at yesterday. As you can see, it changed drastically overnight into what's there today. Of course Matt's been great about putting the new link up. :)

Just wanted to show that I did post the right link. Just bad timing in the way that the guy decided to change the topology of his website last night.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 5:54 PM on November 11, 2001

And Remembrance doesn't seem to be helping us to avoid the repetition of our past, warlike, mistakes

And if we didn't have Rememberance, might things be even worse? Are we sacrificing so much by giving the veterans a day to honour their contribution to society?

And I really hope I didn't come off sounding like I'm TELLING you to do something. I asked, with a "Please".
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 6:21 PM on November 11, 2001

Yes, you did ask with a "please", and for what it's worth at this point, I think you expressed a lovely sentiment. I just took minor issue with the manner in which it was expressed. I should have been more clear. And, for that matter, more considerate.

Badboy, I wasn't referring to you in the MeTa comment that you reference above. I was referring to the attitude of other posters, who were being pompous and presumptuous in their dictation of the feelings that other people should be experiencing and/or displaying.
posted by Optamystic at 7:03 PM on November 11, 2001

I was about to post a 500 word essay here, but I thought better of it and wiped it out. Suffice it to say that Skallas and I are of one mind on this issue. Nothing irks me more than someone who fucks up and insists on blaming everyone else.
posted by jpoulos at 8:12 PM on November 11, 2001

I think it was the sheer mawkishness of it all that annoyed me. But, thank god, I managed to stifle myself for once and was able to see that it was genuinely important to some people. That's worth learning. But there still must have been a better way to present the initial thought.
posted by rodii at 9:03 PM on November 11, 2001

I never even opened the post, smelled like disaster from the start. Just thought I'd add a worthless opinion!
posted by chaz at 9:37 PM on November 11, 2001

the enormous cultural divide between the U.S. on the one hand and Canada, U.K. and Western Europe on the other. We seem to know a hell of a lot more about you than you do about us.

This is news??

I think it is important to remember that not everyone values "remembering the dead," no matter how or in what cause they died. This is a personal and cultural value that is not universal. Personally, I would not have minded a post intended to trigger participation in "remembrance" for those into that sort of thing, had it not been for its other problems, but I think what some of us reacted to was the demand that we share the sensibility that prompted both the holiday and the post. That is extremely arrogant, and as someone else said, patronizing. Feel free to try to persuade people if you feel strongly about something; never tell people how they should feel.
posted by rushmc at 10:01 PM on November 11, 2001

Veterans Day is a valid reason to link to an interesting war memorial site, but the post was more about supporting the day than it was about the link, thus leading to a for-or-against thread.

I couldn't find an interesting link about St Maartens' Concordia Day, so I'm celebrating it privately.

MiguelCardoso's comment in the thread (Su's link) was spot on.
posted by liam at 10:57 PM on November 11, 2001

Then skallas makes a good Vets Day post and the part of me that wants to cut down on front page posts thinks it should be inside the thread we've been discussing. Should a good post be inside a bad post on the same subject? I'm all confused.
posted by liam at 11:11 PM on November 11, 2001

liam: No, because nobody would not filter through about 70 comments of flames and whatnot before finding that gem. I started the "bad" thread and I even only skimmed it over (my thread that is).
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 12:25 AM on November 12, 2001

There is another permutation: I knew the poem (was forced to memorize it, back in the day) and about two months ago I looked it up:there is something so eerie about that middle verse :We are the Dead, Short days ago we lived...loved and were loved;I didn't associate it with remembrance/veterans day.It made me think of the people on every side of this conflict who one minute are alive, and suddenly are or will be DEAD.
And Miguel, I know a lot about those places:Canada (our 51st state) is where we get our raw materials for our industrial machine;The UK is home to Margaret Thatcher, who says that 99% of the misery in the world is created by non-english speaking countries, and Portugal is the last country to have had colonies, Angola and Mozambique, which they left in ruin. That about sums it up.

posted by Mack Twain at 12:48 PM on November 12, 2001

Canada (our 51st state) ...

You better watch it yankee, or I'll show you some "raw materials"...
posted by Marquis at 7:47 PM on November 12, 2001

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