Happy Guy Fawkes Day
by Jeff Dinelli
Over the weekend I watched the great film "V For Vendetta" again, sort of in preparation for today, when the British celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. Fawkes tried unsuccessfully to blow up Parliment and the Royal Family on this day in 1605.
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!
These days human effigies are rarely burned, just mainly a good excuse to get outside and set off some fireworks.
So what am I getting at here? Well, the Fawkes incident inspired King James I to launch a brutal, vicious counterterrorism surge that destroyed many innocent lives and started a wide-reaching suspicion of neighbors or those whose religious beliefs were different. Please read Harper's Scott Horton's piece today for a couple of reasons. One, he explores the historical context of the Gunpowder Plot, and two, he connects this event long ago to today's counterterrorism surgers with bullet points like "Torture Never Works and is Always Wrong" and "Beware the Government That Rules By Fear." Unlearned lessons, indeed.
And to really connect the dots between 1605 and today, you may even want to rent "V For Vendetta," where a vigilante terrorist grandmaster wearing a fiberglass Guy Fawkes mask uses bombs and daggers in an attempt to bring down a futuristic British regime.
England is a police state ruled by a fear-mongering, gay-bashing, Islam-hating dictator who strips citizens of their civil rights and religious freedoms in exchange for protection from bioweapons of mass destruction. Don't even think about comparing him to Bush. This Chancellor is way too articulate.
Natalie Portman plays a slave at a government-owned TV station that features its own Bill O'Reilly-type blowhard. Portman's character is politically educated by V, and hangs out in his lair that features such outlawed items as the Koran and Velvet Underground music.
After its release in early spring of 2006, the film was criticized by some as potentially inspiring audiences to take up action, but of course that's like criticizing the Constitution for protecting free speech. It's a thought-provoking movie that sticks out in today's plastic Hollywood, proof that Guy Fawkes lives on.