A Student of History

July 9, 2007

Great Photo

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 7:15 pm

This was taken in Leicestershire a few days ago.

How the news is distorted

Filed under: The past that is still with us,The world today — John Maass @ 8:10 am

Here is a great example of how the news is distorted by the press in order to advance their own polemical politics.

The Pope has recently decreed that priests are allowed to say the Latin Mass without first getting special permission from their bishops.  Bear in mind that the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass was very popular and still is, for its beauty, tradition and continuity. It is also known as the Tridentine Mass. 

But how does the Washington Post report on this so-called “conservative” development?  Here are the headlines of two stories they ran, and you can see for yourself:

Bishop Mourns Latin Decree, Jews Want Clarity


Latin Mass Headache for Catholic Parishes.

The model of objectivity! 

June 30, 2007

Witch to be pardoned

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 7:40 pm

225 years after the fact, a group of local and federal MPs has prepared a parliamentary motion demanding the full rehabilitation of a suspected witch, who was tortured into confessing to being a witch and was subsequently beheaded. Campaigners claim she was the victim of a conspiracy between the eastern town’s juridical and Protestant church authorities.

More here.

June 22, 2007

Latin is still dead

Filed under: The Academy,The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 3:58 pm

The University of Ottawa had ended a tradition of allowing students to request that their diplomas be in Latin (over the more popular options of English or French), The Ottawa Citizen reported. Relatively few students would picking Latin and the university was having difficulty coming up with Latin equivalents for some words, such as “software” and “genomics.”

June 17, 2007

NC Gov. Manipulates History

Filed under: NC History,The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 4:04 pm

Click here to read about North Carolina’s version of airbrushing people our of photographs like Stalin did.

Most politicians would love a chance to edit their page in the history books.

Gov. Mike Easley’s staff actually did.

Last year, members of Easley’s press office heavily rewrote an entry on him in a book by state-employed historians on North Carolina’s governors.

Over several drafts, they deleted a reference to a failed U.S. Senate bid, speculation that he dislikes campaigning and a note that he had a boyhood reputation “for making mischief.”

They added a quote from Easley about patriotism, a line about how he successfully led the state to a “new global economy” and the fact that USA Today once named him one of the country’s top drug busters.

June 5, 2007

A sign of nationalism…

Filed under: Ireland,The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 7:33 pm

The BBC has a story on a push in the North of Ireland to make the Irish language required in certain situations.

The draft bill proposed that public bodies should specify measures for using Irish when providing services.  It also proposed the creation of an Irish language commissioner and giving people the right to use Irish in court.

Not surprisingly, “Nationalists are strongly in favour of the measure, but unionists have promised to block any bill in Stormont.”

As much as I support Irish unity and look on Ian Paisley’s crew as largely responsible for most of their own troubles these past 30+ years, I don’t think this move to force Irish on folks up North is a good idea.  Most people there do not speak it, and even if they do, it is not their native tongue.  This is a political move only, and has no practical benefits at all.  How can this help the peace process, or reconciliation?  It is a thumb in the eye of the Protestants, just like their marching season is to Catholics.  Enough.

Letters “refound” in filing cabinet

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 6:35 am

Reuters has reported an amazing story about finding lost documents, which gives us hope that as time goes on, more mysteries will be solved-or at least clarified.  Here’s part of the text from CNN:

One of the word’s greatest collections of historical letters, including a note written by Napoleon to his lover Josephine, has been found in a filing cabinet tucked away in a Swiss laundry room.

The treasure trove of almost 1,000 documents, collected over 30 years by a wealthy Austrian banker, includes letters written by Winston Churchill, Peter the Great, Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander Pushkin, John Donne and Queen Elizabeth I.

The letters, which cover more than 500 years and range across art, science, literature and philosophy, are to be auctioned by Christie’s in London on July 3 and are expected to raise up to 2.3 million pounds ($4.6 million).

June 2, 2007

The Gory Cruelties of the British Empire

Filed under: The past that is still with us,The world today — John Maass @ 11:00 am

Here, there’s a on-line piece a few years old that details some of the most shameful British atrocities in a long imperial past characterized to a huge extent by such terror all over the world.  This particular column is about Kenya.

Kenyan Mau Mau veterans’ groups are cataloguing a potentially damaging dossier on alleged human rights abuses in the 1950s. This could lead to a huge legal action for compensation against the UK Government.  The Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s was a murky part of the British military’s past.

The ruthless, clandestine Mau Mau movement found its roots in the Kenyan Kikuyu tribe.  Their aim was to win back their land and personal freedoms denied them by the British colonial power at the time.

Lawyers, working with Kenyan Mau Mau veterans’ groups, have taken over 6,000 depositions alleging numerous major human rights abuses, including rape, torture, indiscriminate killing and theft of property.

For more on Kenya, click here.  This tells the 1959 story of 85 internees at the Hola Detention Camp in Kenya refused to take part in forced labour and sat down in protest. Internees in the camp had been refusing to work for nine days and now these men were to be made an example. When the camp commander, G M Sullivan, blew his whistle over 100 guards attacked the prisoners with clubs and rifle butts, killing one of them.

A related piece on British atrocities in Iraq is hereThe Guardian from 2002 has a very well-done column here, on the denial by most British officials and citizens of its abuses in the past. 

Complacency about Britain’s imperial record lingers on. In the post-September 11 orgy of self-congratulation about the west’s superiority, Blair’s former foreign policy guru, Robert Cooper, and a host of journalistic flag-wavers were urging us not to be ashamed of empire. Cooper insisted empire was “as necessary now as it had been in the 19th century”. The British empire was, we were assured, a generally well-intentioned attempt to inculcate notions of good government, civilised behaviour and market rationality into less well-favoured societies.

Is such a rosy view of British imperialism justified? Many argue that it is. After all, surely the British have less blood on their hands than the French and the Belgians? Wasn’t the British addiction to the free market a prophylactic against the horrors of forced labour? And didn’t those peculiar class obsessions make them less racist than the rest – silly snobs, but not vicious yobs? And isn’t India not only a democracy, but, thanks to the British, one with great railways? Perhaps there is a kernel of truth in some of this, but there’s also much wilful smugness. While the complex consequences of colonial economic policy require extended analysis, it is possible to dispel more swiftly the myth that the British Empire, unlike King Leopold’s, was innocent of atrocities.

And this is all to say nothing of their attempts at wiping out the Irish race for hundreds of years….

May 29, 2007

The Wind that Shakes the Barley-Now in US

Filed under: Ireland,The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 11:39 am

I saw The Wind that Shakes the Barley on Sunday, what a tough film to watch.  It is excellent though, a very realisitic depiction not only on English bigotry and barbarities (for which they are sadly famous, though not the sole practicioners of it) but also the internal turmoil within Ireland over the Treaty.  None of the violence is overdone or gratuitous, so it does not come off like a slasher film.  Nevertheless, it is a powerful film and one not to be missed.

Cillian Murphy, Liam Cunningham, William Ruane, Ken Loach

On a related note, General Sir Mike Jackson in an interview with BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight program stated that innocent people were shot on Bloody Sunday, the 1972 British Army atrocity in Londonderry.

He is among former soldiers who gave their views to mark the end of the Army’s role in supporting the police in Northern Ireland.  “I have no doubt that innocent people were shot,” Sir Mike said.

May 4, 2007

“White” Brits have Indian Blood, says DNA

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 9:37 am

This is a fascinating story from the BBC:

DNA testing has uncovered British descendents of Native Americans brought to the UK centuries ago as slaves, translators or tribal representatives.  Genetic analysis turned up two white British women with a DNA signature characteristic of American Indians.  Indigenous Americans were brought over to the UK as early as the 1500s. 

Many were brought over as curiosities; but others travelled here in delegations during the 18th Century to petition the British imperial government over trade or protection from other tribes.

Experts say it is probable that some stayed in Britain and married into local communities.

May 2, 2007

Where are the anti-communist movies?

Filed under: The past that is still with us,The world today — John Maass @ 3:05 pm

“But where are the anti-communist movies?”  That is the fascinating question asked by David Boaz at TSCDaily.com. 

Oh, sure, there have been some, from early Cold War propaganda films to such artistic achievements as The Red Danube, Ninotchka, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Killing Fields, East-West, and Before Night Falls. But considering that National Socialism lasted only 12 years in one country (and those it occupied), and Communism spanned half the globe for 75 years, you’d think there’d be lots more stories to tell about Communist rule.

No atrocities, maybe? Nazis and Brits were vicious, but Communists were just intellectually misguided? Well, that seems implausible.

To keep reading, click here.

April 29, 2007

Queen to Apologize to Va. Indians?

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 5:28 pm

The Queen is being urged to apologise for the slaughter of American Indians and the introduction of slavery when she visits Virginia this week as guest of honour to mark the 400th anniversary of the first English settlement in the New World at Jamestown.

She will be landing in the middle of a row over political correctness after officials in Virginia banned the use of the word “celebration” for the anniversary. It is being called a “commemoration” out of respect for the suffering of native Americans, who were attacked after the colonists arrived in 1607.

Mary Wade, a native American member of the Virginia Council on Indians, said: “You can’t celebrate an invasion. Whole tribes were annihilated.”

The rest of the article from the London Times is here.

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