Damian Thompson gets a (nonviolent) mauling (Damian Thompson's our friend)

By Jonathan Bartley
November 13, 2008

I see that Damian Thompson from the Daily Telegraph has been on the receiving end of a (non-violent) mauling on his blog (Holy Smoke) after he attacked white poppies on Remembrance Day.

Radio 4Although we have tried to build bridges with him, it seems that Damian has really had it in for Ekklesia for a couple of years now, and I think probably had something to do with the agitated editorial in the Daily Telegraph last Saturday (he is a leader writer) which dragged up all the white poppy stuff again. In fact, I think it was that editorial which also prompted BBC online and the Today Programme to cover my article on Remembrance Day, which had been written a few days before. We weren't intending to flag it up anywhere except on the Ekklesia website. We certainly didn't give it to the Beeb. So somewhat ironically its really the Telegraph (Damian Thompson perhaps) that should take the credit for putting an alternative take on Remembrance Sunday firmly back on the media agenda. I don't think it would have been Damian Thompson's intention though!

Anyway, back to bridge-building. Damian Thompson and I have a mutual friend - Cristina Odone - who asked Damian (on my behalf) if I could have a meeting with him a while back. Sadly he declined. Christina said that it was because Damian thought he might like me if we met...and this would mean that he wouldn't be able to continue his hatred of Ekklesia, so he thought it best not to meet up!

Although I have a soft spot for Damian Thompson, I don't usually read his blog. But just now I followed a link from the Church Times web site to his Remembrance Day comments entitled: "On Remembrance Day, spare a thought for the despicable White Poppy appeal". In the article, as well as urging people to stick two (or perhaps one - it is not clear) finger(s) up at people who wear white poppies, he engages in some more abuse of Ekklesia for supporting people's right to choose them (and wear them ourselves of course!).

I had a little chuckle, because its the kind we expect from Damian Thompson. But what took me by surprise was the huge backlash against Damian that followed in the comments people made on his blog. And what was interesting was that most of it was from red poppy wearers (not white) who felt it was in bad taste to be so abusive on Remembrance Day, but also that people should have the choice about how to remember the dead. Many may not have agreed with the sentiment behind white poppies, but they stood behind people's right to wear them. They were also pretty upset with Damian Thompson's intolerance of anyone with a dissenting view.

This does seem to be further encouraging evidence that attitudes are slowly but surely changing around Remembrance Day. And I must ask Damian Thompson if he wants to go out for a coffee sometime...

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