Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today -100: November 21, 1910: Of Tolstoy, petty political uprisings, and demented viragoes


Leo Tolstoy has died.

The NYT finds no evidence that a revolution has actually started in Mexico, as it was supposed to do yesterday when Madero returned to Mexico, except for an outbreak at Guerrero. But as a precaution, all bullfights have been canceled in Mexico City.

A NYT editorial craps all over the “petty political uprising” that is the Mexican Revolution, as well as its leader, former presidential candidate Francisco Madero. Says the Times, “The sooner Gen. Diaz silences Madero, however, the better it will be for the peace and credit of his country. The most pitiful revolution is dangerous in a country whose population includes 52 different varieties of the Indian.”

Massachusetts Governor-Elect Eugene Foss demands that either Henry Cabot Lodge “surrender his seat in the United States Senate by withdrawing from his contest for re-election” or Foss will stump against him up and down the state in the time left before Foss takes office (a reminder: it was the Legislature, not the people of the state who would have the final say).

In what will not be the last incredibly condescending editorial on the subject of women’s suffragists, American or British, the NYT says that the women who marched on Parliament Friday took advantage of the “fact” that they would be treated more gently than would men who did the same thing, in which case there would have been “more or less killing and wounding as the first result, and later some trials for high treason, with hangings not far out of sight”, whereas women only suffered “dishevelment of hair and clothing,” a few arrests and brief imprisonment. “In other words, it was not war that the women made, but a ‘scene,’ and while it would not be either fair or true to say that all women love ‘scenes,’ it is both to say that a good many of them apparently do – that none of them seems to fear the public exhibition of emotion anything like as much as most men. So, in a sense – and a reassuring sense, too – while the riot may have been ‘unladylike’ – which is no very grave condemnation – it was quite ‘womanly,’ in that it would have been possible only for women.”

In fact, the 119 women arrested on Black Friday were all released without charge on Home Secretary Winston Churchill’s orders, in part to prevent publicity being given to the abuse and sexual humiliation the police inflicted on the protesters. For this leniency, he was criticized by the Times of London and other papers, including the Daily Express, which referred to the women as “demented viragoes” and “sexless creatures.”

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