Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Easter Rising

All honour to the rebels failed.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, when Irish republicans (meaning they believe in a republic, not a monarchy; nothing to do with Bush and D-lay) seized key points in Dublin in an attempt to win independence from the British occupiers. The Rising failed, many were executed, but events were set in train which would result in the independence of most of Ireland in 1922.

The British conquest and occupation of Ireland, which began in the 12th century, was exceptionally genocidal, since the British fancied themselves "civilized" and the Irish "savages." Hundreds of thousands were murdered outright, several millions died of British neglect during the Potato famine in the 19th century, and, as late as 1920, Winston Churchill, as Home Secretary, authorized the slaughter of entire villages when a single British soldier was killed in the vicinity.

(For Churchill fans: As with anything you will read on this blog: As Casey Stengel said, "You could look it up." Can't find it? Post, and I will gladly supply references.)

Fortuitously, Friday last marked the 80th birthday of Elizabeth Windsor, Queen of England. (Full disclosure: on his mother's side, your author is entirely of English descent.)

How did monarchies originate? I suppose it went something like this (a reference to a king of comedy, Bob Newhart).

At a certain stage of historical development, societies became prosperous enough that it paid to become a bandit, then to organize bandit gangs. One day, bandit gang leader Dave got the bright idea to "legitimize" his pillaging and raping, and proclaimed himself King Dave the First. Downhill from there.

Monarchies are nothing more than organized crime families, claiming to have been instituted by a deity (the divine right of kings).

I agree with Tom Paine: heriditary monarchs make as much sense as heriditary mathematicians. I agree with Labour Party leader Tony Benn. Heriditary monarchy: It's is as if an airliner taxied down a runway, and the pilot came over the intercom: "I've never been trained as a pilot, but don't worry --- my mother was a professional pilot."

Your author stands with those who advocate the immediate deposition of Elizabeth Windsor and all other monarchs and nobility, the confiscation of all their wealth but a pittance, and the return of their wealth to the people of the respective nations, from whom it had been stolen over the years.

This, I was told when but a sprout, was the Spirit of 1776, whether regarding Windsors or Bushes.

Today, tonight, last thought before you sleep: of all those who struggle for freedom all over the world.

24 April in History

1800 - The Library of Congress is created, as President John Adams signs a bill appropriating $5,000 for "such books as Congress may require." LC is today one of the jewels of human culture.

1915 - Genocide of the Armenians in Turkey begins.

1954 - Birth of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Philadelphia African-American journalist, falsely-convicted of murder; currently on death row.


Days Since Conquest of Iraq: 1,132

Americans Killed: 2,390

Estimated Iraqis Killed: 40,000 plus (seems low to me)


Blogger RtR said...

In Memoriam

The following as recorded by the Chieftans and Sinead O'Connor (Long Black Veil) or by the Chieftans with Sarah Maclachlan (I don't know which album) takes me home (as they say).

The Foggy Dew

As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I
There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
No fife did hum nor battle drum did sound it's dread tatoo
But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey swell rang out through the foggy dew

Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Sulva or Sud El Bar
And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through
While Britannia's Huns, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew

'Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go that small nations might be free
But their lonely graves are by Sulva's waves or the shore of the Great North Sea
Oh, had they died by Pearse's side or fought with Cathal Brugha
Their names we will keep where the fenians sleep 'neath the shroud of the foggy dew

But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide in the springing of the year
And the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few
Who bore the fight that freedom's light might shine through the foggy dew

Ah, back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in my dreams I go and I'd kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, When you fell in the foggy dew.

1:30 PM  

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