Saturday, February 07, 2015

Today -100: February 7, 1915: Of false flags, politically undisciplined children, bread, women’s suffrage, and casting Birth of a Nation

The Lusitania arrives in Liverpool. The British ship is flying an American flag because of fears of German submarines. Captain Daniel Dow (not the one who would be in command of the Lusitania in May) claims he has a right to do this because the ship was carrying neutral mail and neutral passengers. Evidently there is no actual rule of international or US law against such a ruse de guerre, although it is not considered “quite the proper thing”. Also, the Lusitania is recognizable and well-known, hard to mistake for another ship.

Headline of the Day -100:

The steamship, not the king.

The German Governor-General of Belgium, Gen. Moritz von Bissing, says that the Belgians are “politically undisciplined children” who keep expecting to be liberated.

Germany denies reports that it asked Bulgaria to attack Romania if Romania went to war with Austria.

Berlin will start rationing bread.

The New York Legislature has voted to put the issue of women’s suffrage before the male electorate in November, and the NYT could not be more pleased at the prospect: “The proposed amendment... should be voted down by such a majority of the voters as to deprive the advocates of an objectionable and unreasonable derangement of the political and social structure of any further hope of success in this State. ... The grant of suffrage to women is repugnant to instincts that strike their roots deep in the order of nature. It runs counter to human reason, it flouts the teachings of experience and the admonitions of common sense. ... Without the counsel and guidance of men no woman ever ruled a State wisely and well. The defect is innate and one for which a cure is both impossible and not to be desired. That they lack the genius for politics is no more to their discredit than man’s unhandiness in housewifery and in the care of infants... men vote according to judgments founded on observation and knowledge acquired in the pursuit of their daily business. Women would inevitably attempt to decide such matters empirically or emotionally. ... Either women must work as men work, or they will never be qualified to vote as men vote.” “Is it worth while to take women out of the school where she fits herself to her high natural duties to put her under a tuition against which her body and mind and soul would be in perpetual revolt? Of course, the most fanatical advocate of votes for women would never preach a doctrine so monstrous.” And the vote would “coarsen” women, and so on and so forth. The editors conclude, “it is just as well that the matter should be decided now by all the men of the State. They are facing a grave crisis.” They think that women’s rights can be decided by all the men, isn’t that adorable?

The LA Times has an article about the casting of Birth of a Nation: the difficulties finding someone who looked like Abraham Lincoln who could also act, the red tape to get the National Guard to fill out the war scenes, the problem in getting enough negroes, some of whom came all the way from the South. This is evidently the first movie to film night battles and to use real explosives in the war scenes, and real Civil War cannons, borrowed from the Presidio. The battlefield was two miles long, with the cosplayers directed by telephone.

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