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Monday, August 08, 2005

Catholic Islamic terrorism has always threatened Airstrip One

It's in incredibly poor taste to quote Harry Truman during the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I'm going to do it anyway: "The only new thing in the world is the history you don't know." Based on a couple of passages from the book I'm reading now, it seems as though this quote applies particularly well to the events in Britain in the last month. (Emphasis added.)
The classic case of strategic terrorism of this type is doubtless the Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605, a day that is still marked each year in the English calendar as Guy Fawkes' Day. In 1605 James I Stuart, a Protestant who united in his person the crowns of Scotland and England for the first time, was considering a policy of accomodation with the Spanish Empire, the leading Catholic power. James was also considering some measures of toleration for Catholics in England, where the majority of the landed gentry in the north of the country were still loyal to Rome. An influential group in London, backed by Venetian intelligence from abroad, wanted to push James I into a confrontation with the Spanish Empire, from which they hoped among other things to extract great personal profit. They also thought it was politically vital to keep persecuting the Roman Catholics. Chief among the war party was the royal chancellor, rought equivalent to prime minister, who was Lord Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury. Cecil set out to sway James I to adopt his policy, by means of terrorism.

Acting behind the scenes, Cecil cultivated some prominent Catholics, one of them Lord Thomas Percy from the famous Catholic Percy family, and used them as cut-outs to direct the operations of a group of naive Catholic fanatics and adventurers, among them a certain gullible gentleman named Guy Fawkes. Thomas Percy was supposedly a Catholic fanatic, but in reality was a bigamist. [Couldn't he have been both? -- Ed.] This group of Catholic fanatics hatched the idea first of tunneling into the basement of the Houses of Parliament, in order to pacck that basement with explosives for the purpose of blowing up King, Lords, and Commons when James I came to open the parliament early that November. But instead Guy Fawkes was caught going into the basement the night before the great crime was scheduled to occur. Fawkes and the rest of the plotters were tortured and hanged, and several Catholic clergy were also scapegoated. James I put aside his plans for toleration of Catholics, and England set out on a century of wars against the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, from which in turn the British Empire was born. Guy Fawkes Day became the yearly festival of "no popery" and hatred of Spain.
-- Webster Griffin Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, by p. 68

Towards the end of the 1600s, some leaders of the Whig ministry decided that France, not Spain, was now the leading Catholic power. In 1678 they brought forth the charlatan Titus Oates to allege that he had proofs of a "popish plot" backed by France to restore Catholicism in England, including by manipulating the royal succession. Oates may be usefully compared to the many "anti-terrorism experts" who appear on television news broadcasts to report on what the terrorists are doing, since it is clear that most of what these commentators say they have simply invented. When Oates began to recite his charges there was mass hysteria in England, and several Jesuits were hanged. The diarist John Evelyn had never seen "the nation in more apprehension and consternation." So great was the fear that "...before the end of 1678 not only did a majority of the English people believe that there was such a plot, but anyone who ventured to deny it ran the risk of impeachment as an accessory. 'Twas worse than plotting to suspect the Plot.'" The popish plot had enormous mass appeal: "the extravagant frenzy of the London mob took most people by surprise...London witnessed an exhibition of emotional fanaticism which has seldom been equaled in the history of a civilized nation. Mobs have often been as wicked, but not often so stupid. 'The imposture known as the Oates Plot,' wrote Lingard, 'supported by the arts and declamations of a numerous party, goaded the passions of men to a state of madness, and seemed to extinguish the native good sense and humanity of the English character.'" The great sponsor of Titus Oates was Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, the founder of the Whig Party and a member of the oligarchical cabinet called the CABAL after the initials of its members: Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale. The philosopher John Locke was Ashley's secretary. In the late summer of 1679 the hysteria began to subside, and it became apparent that Titus Oates was a fraud and an imposter.
-- Tarpley, p. 70

The mood now is different. People do not talk of "scaremongering".
There will be new anti-terrorism legislation in the autumn. This will include an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism. The sort of remarks made in recent days should be covered by such laws. But this will also be applied to justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere, not just in the UK.
-- Tony Blair, August 5, 2005