Thursday, August 07, 2014
Today -100: August 7, 1914: I am confident that the ancient war-like spirit still lives in the German people
First Lady Ellen Wilson is dead. Congress was asked to cheer her up on her deathbed by passing her pet bill to clean up the alleys of the District of Columbia, and they did so yesterday, but she died anyway (Bright’s disease).
Austria declares war on Russia.
China declares neutrality.
Massive German bombardment of Liège, Belgium is beginning to destroy the forts protecting it. Germans continue to lose thousands of troops in what was supposed to be a walkover on the way to Paris.
Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Le Figaro reports that Lt. Günter Freiherr von Forstner, whose thugishness in Zabern, Alsace created such a storm last December, has been captured by the Belgians. He hasn’t been.
US immigration officials are considering whether to stop some of the European men returning to fight who are leaving their families behind and destitute.
The French Army is put under the command of Joseph Joffre. “[I]t is a common saying in the army that when Gen. Joffre has once made up his mind nothing will force him to change it.” Because mental inflexibility is just what you’re looking for in a supreme commander. He also, the NYT informs us, has a “massive head,” the better to resist penetration by new information.
French Prime Minister Viviani appeals to the women of France to bring in the crops.
Kaiser Wilhelm appeals to all Germans (he means male Germans) capable of bearing arms to do so. “I am confident that the ancient war-like spirit still lives in the German people”. Spoiler Alert: it does. “I know, if needed, each and all of you would die like heroes.” What’s the German for “wait, what?”
André Michelin, of the French tire company and the guides, offers prizes of up to $20,000 for heroic acts by French military aviators. Payable to their survivors, if they die all heroically.
The British Parliament votes a £500 million war budget, unanimously, and to increase the army by 500,000 men and the Royal Navy 67,000.
The ban on the importing of arms into Ireland is lifted.
Ramsay MacDonald, the future prime minister and bastard, resigns as leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party (the Labour MPs) because he more or less opposes the war.
So how are the British suffragists taking all this war stuff? Most of their weekly papers are out today. Today’s issue of the Women’s Social and Political Union’s paper, The Suffragette, shows how abruptly Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst reversed their position. Christabel exults that by this war, “a man-made civilisation, hideous and cruel enough in the time of peace, is to be destroyed.” She portrays the war as Nature’s and God’s vengeance on a people who held women in subjection, although the price of war, she says, will be mainly paid by those women. This issue was printed but never distributed, because by the time publication day rolled around, she’d changed her mind and now supports the war. Really supports the war. Really REALLY supports the war. It’ll be a few months before The Suffragette appears again, when it will be devoted to accusing certain members of the Liberal government of being insufficiently war-like and possibly German.
In the non-militant National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’s Common Cause, President Millicent Garrett Fawcett says, “Let us show ourselves worthy of citizenship, whether our claim to it be recognised or not.” But in the militant Women’s Freedom League’s The Vote, President Charlotte Despard says the “war hysteria” is a sign that materialism and physical force, the very things the women’s suffrage movement has been fighting, still rule. Despard is the sister of Field Marshal Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, and will repeatedly embarrass him by her anti-militarism throughout the war. Heh heh. Sylvia Pankhurst, in tomorrow’s Women’s Dreadnought, says that all the women’s organizations of the world call for peace (obviously, she’s not been talking with her mother and sister lately), but men-made governments “rush heedless on to war.”
The Boy Mayor of NYC issues a proclamation calling on New Yorkers not to parade in sympathy with any of the European combatants. And no flags anywhere except American flags.
Headline of the Day -100: “Natives Fight Over Roosevelt’s Hair.” After he got a haircut in Brazil.
Name of the Day -100: Mina Van Winkle, President of the Women’s Political Union of New Jersey. Supposedly, the suffragists in the state are trying to convert the wife of Gov. Fielder to the suffrage cause in order to get her to persuade him. Not the most feminist tactic ever.