Wednesday next week Canadians from coast to coast to coast will stop and take time to participate in the act of remembrance. Even in these strange times of COVID-19, Canadians will take time around the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month to remember those who have fought for our freedoms and served to protect us. Even in this age of growing partisanship and division, this is still one of the few unifying events that we have.
As a part of this act, we wear our poppies to show respect for those veterans, many of whom are family and friends. My daughter was telling me before I dropped her off at school this morning that her class were going to be making their own poppies today in class, to remember. And even while we adjust to this pandemic and try to make the best of these hard days, we still put on our poppies to remember. Yet this morning I came across a story that just blew my mind in its sheer stupidity and is blowing up all over social media:
I’ve never shopped at a Whole Foods in my life but this commercial grocery giant, owned by the tech giant Amazon, has managed to do something that is nearly impossible in this day and age; piss everyone across the political spectrum off. Don’t believe me? Here is just a quick sampling from this morning so far:
Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, journalists, Indigenous peoples and more, the condemnation of this piece of policy stupidity on the part of this massive corporation has been downright universal. In this age where it seems like social media isn’t lacking for someone to “other side” almost any topic, as I write this, I’ve yet to see someone step up to the plate to do that. And in one foul swoop, Whole Foods has managed to unite the vast majority of Canadians behind a simple sentiment; F*ck Whole Foods!
According to the CBC piece reporting this, “an employee of the Whole Foods in Ottawa says she was told by a supervisor that wearing the poppy would be seen as “supporting a cause.”” The piece goes on to quote the employee stating she was told that “if they allowed this one particular cause, then it would open up the door so that they would have to allow or consider allowing other causes”. Amazingly, the company itself confirmed that the poppy was not “comply” with their policy.
Regardless of how you feel about poppies, this “excuse” is just downright stupid (and I’m sorry if I repeat that word a lot here…. It’s just so apt). Using the “slippery slope” argument when it comes to respecting our veterans and their sacrifice is amazingly tone deaf and offensive to just about everyone. As Canadians, we may disagree about when our soldiers are sent to serve or the policies that they serve under. But what we almost all agree upon is that despite of the decisions made above them, we all respect those who step forward to serve. We thank them for their sacrifice and remember that, always. That’s not a matter of any partisan disagreement and for Whole Foods to act like wearing a poppy would bring some about is just stupid.
And of course, it’s not that Whole Foods isn’t anti-poppy per se. As the CBC story points out, Whole Foods does support the Legion’s national poppy campaign and gives towards it. Whole Foods even pointed out that “employees at each of its stores will observe the traditional moment of silence at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.” Somehow in their eyes those acts won’t “open up the door” to showing support for anything else or won’t fling open pandora’s box. Yet somehow the simple act of wearing a poppy will? Again, that’s just so bloody stupid and it all even makes less sense when you add that context to it all.
I’d hope that Whole Foods backs down for this act of corporate and communications stupidity before this morning is out. How they managed to get themselves into this idiotic box of their own stupid creation is mind-blowing. The fact that pretty much all of political Canada is united in calling out this corporate giant on a single issue tells you all that you need to know about how dumb this is. But it’s not just dumb, it’s disrespectful to those who have served and an insult to those who are still serving.
It’s personal to the majority of Canadians. I wear my poppy on November 11th thinking of my late grandfather Alfred Holmstrom, who served and was wounded in the Second World War. Most of us have family members that we point to that we remember at this time, even if we disagree on the politics of wars and conflict. We normally gather with those who we disagree with on the 11th, around the local cenotaph, and remember those who fought so we could have democratic right to disagree amongst ourselves. And with this move, Whole Foods has managed to disrespect all of that. It’s stupid, just so very stupid, stupidity on the level that people won’t forget quickly or forgive easily. We’ll see what they do but whatever pain Whole Foods gets from this, they deserve it, and that’s totally on them alone.
UPDATE: 10:20 am, November 6th, 2020: It turns out that Whole Foods has responded to the Toronto Sun on this story and amazingly, they’re doubling down. I’ve got no words for this level of stupidity because this is just so dumb on their part.
Update: 3:00 pm EST, November 6, 2020: After a full news day being knocked around by all of political Canada and being unanimously scolded in the House of Commons, Whole Foods has finally backed down, reversing their policy that started all of this.