Friday 2 November 2007

Welcome to the Pogrom

All over the United Kingdom, there will be bonfires and bangers aplenty this weekend.
It's Guy Fawkes Day.

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
So goes the mantra.

Oh, it's all good fun, I hear you say.
Throwing a dummy on a bonfire and burning it, whilst setting off fireworks.
And perhaps it is.

Only it isn't really. Not when you look at it, not when you look at the POINT of the party.
It might seem harmless enough watching the local scouts set off some Catherine Wheels by a roaring blaze, whilst everyone holds sparklers and munches hot dogs.

But it wasn't always that innocuous.
And in some parts of the UK, it still isn't.

On the Shankill road, in Toxteth, and in Pollok, they are burning effigies of the Pope, even today.
Two hundred years ago, it was a night that Catholics in these Islands could still expect to live in fear.
A night of Protestant triumphalism comparable to Kristallnacht.

HOUSES got burned.

Let's be honest, at times Catholics in these islands were hated as much as Hitler ever hated the Jews. At best, we were just disenfranchised, barred from any office, forbidden to leave our property to our children and barred from hearing Mass from our own priests- as being a Catholic priest carried the death penalty.
At worst, we were a legitimate target for mob rage, for conspiracy theory, as a catchall for all social evils.

Catholics spread the plague. Catholics started the fire of London.
So November the Fifth, was a night Catholic families stayed up all night, their doors locked, the weapons that it was illegal for them to possess in their hands.

Waiting for the angry, hysterical screams of their Protestant neighbours, torches in hand, descending upon them.

The annual pogrom.

And I'm sure over the years, many Catholics burned to death on November the Fifth at the hands of people they thought were their friends.
That's what pogroms are like.

So remember, when you stand watching the guy burn.
Symbolically, you are burning ALL Catholics. You are cleansing England from the papist scum.

And that, well that incudes me.

So excuse me if I don't join you.


Anonymous said...

I did not know this association.

But as a Catholic who was married in England I found it very interesting that Catholic priests did not have the legal power to marry people so at my church wedding I had to have some unknown person from the Hammersmith registry office in attendance to be present and sign the registry to make the marriage legal.

I wonder if that has changed.

Anonymous said...

It's okay. I'm sending you extra love for the weekend to protect you.

Anonymous said...

We used to 'celebrate' Bonfire Night in Australia. I think it ended about 20 years ago? Perhaps longer. Not because it is Catholic Sledging, but because the great suburban unwashed kept blowing themselves up with fireworks and you know what else? Bonfires aren't so awesome in a country where bushfires are pretty easy to start with a ciggie butt.

Everyone was 'sad' when it ended because it was a fun night with sparklers. I think if you surveyed Australia back when it ended and asked them 'What is bonfire night about?' you would have been hard pressed to get many people telling you a thing about Guy Fawkes. I don't think most Aussies would know who he is (watch about 500 Aussies leave comments about how they do bloody so!) *hahahaha*

I lived in England for five Guy Fawkes nights and I ignored them all. Good post Crushie.

Anonymous said...

Religious intolerance is of course, to be deplored
*lights blue touch paper and stands well back* B A N G !!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've always thought it wasn't something to celebrate, really - especially considering the cruel deaths of the original conspirators. I also think it's a dangerous event now, with fireworks being let off weeks in advance, everywhere and all the time. - I'm such a grump!

Anonymous said...

jmb- It hasn't changed, as far as I'm aware.
Thee is still a lot of hidden anti-Catholicism in this country.

Alexys- Thanks :)
I don't think they burn people any more... At least I hope not.

Kitty- Its not so much bonfire night here any more as firework season, two weeks of banging inreminglede with kids running round rininging doors with Scream masks on expecting five pound notes or a brick through the window.

As soon it ends, Xmas shopping season starts.

Mutley- I thought of starting my own annual celebration, Inquisition Day, but it never took off.

Welshcakes- I think it's actually quite shocking for a child as well to watch a human figure being burnt on a fire.
It used to bother me as a child.

Anonymous said...

You interpretation of history really hinges around whether you believe the struggles between people was really based around religion precisely or if it was based around the power structure they were aligned with. I tend to lean towards the latter.

Papal power sought to exert itself through religion, circumventing the democratic and national will of the individual states throughout Europe. The Catholic individuals who got it in the neck as a result of this struggle were caught in the middle of Papal avarice.

I blame the pope (of that time). He didn't give a damn for the consequences.

I was taught at school that Nov 5th represented the triumph of democracy over the avarice of a foreign power, nothing more. That's what we celebrate on this day - not the murder of Catholics.

Anonymous said...

That's the power of the big lie. People will believe it and act on it. Form Jews to Cathars to Catholics, the circle of violent blame is a frightful thing. And the most appalling part is that the mobs always feel that they are some kind of force for good.

Anonymous said...

So… money isn’t the root of evil, Catholics are? Go figure…

Regarding music, omg, I’m totally stuck on nostalgia – been hooked on “Self Control” by Laura Branigan and been listening to it over and over again this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I find the idea of burning people in effigy distasteful, be it the pope or a caravan full of gypsies.

I was born and raised a catholic. I've never seen any anti catholicism. Admittedly I've never lived in a part of the UK where sectarianism still exists.

Anonymous said...

it's been a while, lots and lots of interesting posts:)

I also like the fact that you added a pic (I'm guessing it's u:) ), I've been thinking about doing so for a whole, I'm an anonymous blogger now but I really think that I should tell people more about myself.
Really a blog is also about you not only your opinions.

Anonymous said...

and yes, I checked ur comment now after I posted mine. Did we comment at the same time?:)

Anonymous said...

Wolfie- Well, you could argue that England at that time was pretty much a police state and Catholics had a genuine grievance.

I don't think England was that much of a democracy at that point- Parliament was still a rubber stamping assembly.

Still, the pogroms continued a long time. Look at the Gordon riots in the 1780s.

Eric- The tale of St Hugh of Lincoln is a clasic example. His feastday was celebrated a long time.

His body was found at the bottom of a well in the middle ages- wherther accident or sicko, who knows, but it was passover, so the community figured the Jews had done it as part of their tradition of killing a Christian child every passover to use the blood in their bread.

An excuse for annual pogrom in Lincoln for centuries.

Crashie- Well, for a long time they were in England.
Of course, listen to Ian Paisley and they still are. He thinks the Eu is a vast plot by the Pope to create a united ireland.

Jams- I saw a photo a few years back of the Pope being burned in Sussex of all places. It still happens.

Kizzie- I don't like telling people too much about myself. The picture is there so you can get a feel for the TYPE of person I am, without being able to identify me.
I think the pic expresses quite a bit about me, its one of the best I've seen of me.

Anonymous said...

Guy Fawkes so was he a burner or a burnee? I have never heard of such foolishness!

Anonymous said...

I only knew the glamourized V for Vendetta version.
As always, it seems, such a deeper underbelly-- hard to know how anyone can cluelessly celebrate with that history floating around.