Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Today -100: September 27, 1917: Of hunger strikes, nebulous and unctuous generalities, death battalions, and old women of both sexes

Thomas Ashe, a former schoolteacher and Sinn Fein/IRA leader, dies of a hunger strike demanding political prisoner status in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. Ashe was sentenced to death for his activities during the Easter Rising released during the amnesty in June and subsequently re-imprisoned, this time just for giving speeches. He seems to have died as a result of botched forcible feeding. The British government will from now on mostly refrain from force-feeding hunger-striking prisoners.

In a reply to Pope Benedict’s peace proposals, Germany offers to de-occupy Belgium on condition that German businesses can operate there and that Belgium is divided administratively into Flanders and Walloon. Letting Belgium go doesn’t seem to be conditional on Germany getting its colonies back, which had been mentioned in various trial balloons leaked over the last few weeks.

Former Prime Minister Asquith denounces the offer as “teeming with nebulous and unctuous generalities.” Nebulous and unctuous generalities are the worst kind.

The military section of the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet demands the dissolution of battalions with the word “death” in their name (the Women’s Battalion of Death etc), because these privileged soldiers arrogate to themselves the right to die for the liberty of Russia, which is the right of all soldiers, and divide the army into heroes & a mass of conscienceless soldiers. This is a very silly discussion.

In a speech in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt calls Robert La Follette “the most sinister foe of democracy in this country,” unworthy to represent the loyal people of America, and TR wishes he could just send him to the kaiser.  So, um, Teddy wants to overturn a democratic election, but it’s La Follette who’s the sinister foe of democracy? Teddy R. does not do irony. DOES. NOT. DO. IRONY! He calls pacifists “old women of both sexes,” because of course he does.

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