Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today -100: April 17, 1912: Of parliamentary machines, women and children first, and Taft concerned


The Irish Home Rule Bill passes its First Reading in the House of Commons, 360-266. Tory opposition leader Bonar Law threatens civil war, declaring that the people of Ulster are ready to resist this measure with their lives, and that if it is not put to a referendum, “you will succeed only in breaking the parliamentary machine.”

They still know the names of less than half the Titanic survivors, which is all that the Carpathia wirelessed, possibly because of electrical storms.

(The Carpathia, by the by, was torpedoed by the Germans in 1918.)

The LAT says that relatives of lost Titanic passengers won’t be able to collect damages from the White Star line because the ship was on the high seas, covered by no nation’s laws. They can be reimbursed for lost property (which was insured, so the company will lose nothing).

The NYT editorializes on the importance of the unwritten “women and children first” rule. If men violate it, “they will find themselves shunned as alien to humanity wherever they go ashore. ... However valuable to his race a man may be, he can serve it best by giving his life for the inexorable maintenance of this ancient custom.” The narrative of civilized, chivalrous men calmly giving up their places on the lifeboats to women ‘n children will be central to the story this era told itself about itself (another NYT editorial two days from now: “There was no disorder, no rioting, the rule of the sea prevailed over the rule of nature. With band playing and the lights of the sinking ship still burning, the doomed company awaited the end. They died like heroes, they died like men. It is a tragic and dreadful story, but it tells us how civilization conquers the primal, savage instincts and brings into being and dominance the higher and nobler qualities of man’s nature. There is not in history a more splendid and inspiring example of self-control, of sacrifice, of courage, and of manliness.”)

Of course in 2½ years it’ll be all made-up propaganda about Huns ripping the fetuses out of pregnant Belgian women with bayonets.

Titanic Butt Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Concerned for Butt.”

1 comment:

John H said...

**SPOILER ALERT**
This threat of civil war by Bonar-Law scuppered the Home Rule bill. This failure lead to a lot of the conflict in Ireland that was to follow. Conservative groups were actually arming their followers in preparation for a conflict.

So: a conservative was willing for political reasons to see armed conflict on the streets of the UK and a possible break up of the Union. The whole sorry tale is recounted in the brilliant book The Strange Death of Liberal England. How Bonar-Law and Edward Carson, his Unionist cohort, weren't tried for treason is beyond me.