Remember remember...

... or, please don't.

I think I'm going to end up running this every year, because ever since Alan Moore's damn graphic novel became a damn movie, we're going to see people running amok in V for Vendetta masks advocating freedom from some oppressive evil government force. Or something. It makes me historically cranky.

So let's get this straight:

• Guy Fawkes was not trying to overthrow a theocratic, repressive government; he was trying to create one. King James began his reign by offering religious freedom, at least the best that time period could envision. Only after constant threats of violence if he did not convert to the Catholic faith personally, and the Bye Plot, which was a failed plan to kidnap the king and hold him until he agreed to reinstate the Catholic Church as the sole faith of England, did James get cranky and begin persecuting Catholics.

• The November Plot was to assassinate King James, to kidnap and install Princess Elizabeth, all of (I think) eight years old, because she could be easily controlled. It was not the work of anarchists who believed in no government; it was exchanging a legal monarchy for a totalitarian theocracy. They also tried to convince Spain to invade England and ignored the pleadings of the Pope, who thought it was a bad idea to reinstate Catholicism by violence.

• The Fifth of November was not a heroic martyrdom of patriots; it was a failed terrorist plot. Fawkes was caught attempting to blow up Parliament, not just King James. If it had succeeded, hundreds of innocent people would have been killed, including all of Parliament.

• The "remember remember" chant grew into popularity in England cheering the failure of the plot, not supporting its aims. It ends by cheering on burning Guy Fawkes at the stake, though that didn't happen; Fawkes managed to kill himself on the way to his execution, though his effigy was burned on Nov. 5 each year for centuries.

• The fact that Fawkes' face mask has been used by Anonymous and Alan Moore wrote a graphic novel in which a terrorist co-opts Fawkes' image to blow up a pastiche of Margaret Thatcher's Parliament does not make the Fifth of November a holiday for freedom. The current gross misunderstanding of the November Plot is one of the reasons I dislike V for Vendetta so much.

• I personally don't intend to remember remember the Fifth of November. I'm not even British.

Instead, I like what Joy Coop posted today. It's a saner, smarter and less historically cranky response than my grumpification:

Forget for the moment Guy Fawkes was trying to institute theocracy, and instead take the modern-day meaning of the day: DEFY SOMETHING IMPORTANT TODAY! Whether it's your own stubbornness, procrastination, or laziness. If it's something that should have been said months ago. Make a positive change you once thought impossible.

Making a positive change sounds like a good thing to me. Maybe it's the weather, or our finances, or my continuing creative struggles, or just the blah that seems to envelop everyone after Daylight Savings... but the level of crankiness within and without is reaching epidemic levels. I've seen a record number of posts from people angry not about politics or family drama or financial crisis, but about other people's happiness. Angry about hearing Christmas carols. Angry about other people's "Thirty Days of Thanks" statements. Angry about the gleeful and overcaffeinated Nanos typing madly away at their novels. Angry about other people being happy.

So instead of remember-remember yet again, let's forget a failed terrorist plot in another country centuries ago, and let's make a positive change today. Vote, if you're in a state that's doing it (not here, alas). Call someone you've meant to call for a long time. Donate your extra cash to a cause. Don't have a cause? Find one! 

Hell, if you have no other ideas, buy a few flowers and go to the poorest cemetery in your town. Place your flowers on graves that don't have any.

Do something to make the world a better place by sundown than it was when you woke up this morning. I don't know of a single religion that would call that a bad goal. To hell with Guy Fawkes. 

Note: For those who care about such things, last week's post The Little Monsters of Edwardsville is apparently the 500th post on this blog. Which just goes to show I need to blog more often. Happy milestone to me. 


  1. Anonymous12:29 PM

    *claps* Well said!

    (Also, poke poke, remember, remember those interview questions...something to drive away the DST blues! ;-) )


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