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November 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A newscaster for Britain’s ITV has fired back at viewers who attacked her on social media for not wearing the plastic poppy that most people in the country wear on Remembrance Day, November 11 (also known as Armistice Day). The poppies are given to people who donate to a charity that supports men and women currently serving in Britain’s armed forces, as well as veterans, and their families. But when Charlene White turned up on TV on Monday without a poppy pinned to her dress — perhaps the only newscaster on British TV who went poppy-less — she was subjected to virulent sexist and racist attacks. In a statement posted on the ITV website she said, “I support and am patron of a number of charities and I am uncomfortable with giving one of those charities more on-screen time than others. … I prefer to be neutral and impartial on screen so that one of those charities doesn’t feel less favored than another.” She remarked that in her private life she wears numerous items showing support for various charities, including World AIDS Day, breast cancer awareness month, Bowel Cancer Awareness month, “and yes — a poppy on Armistice Day.” As for the hate messages directed at her online, she said, they were “interesting to read” mostly because “it flies in the face of everything that millions of British men and women and those in the Commonwealth have fought for for generations, and continue to fight for: the right to choose, and the right of freedom of speech and expression.” Her remarks are reminiscent of those by former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw and the late ABC anchorman Peter Jennings, who were attacked for not wearing an American flag in their lapels at the outbreak of the Iraq War. Said Brokaw: “I don’t think a journalist ought to be wearing a flag, because it does seem to be, to me at least, a sign of solidarity toward whatever the government is doing, and that is not our role.”