October 31, 2005


Home front (Philip Johnston, 31/10/2005, Daily Telegraph)

This Saturday marks the 400th anniversary of one of the most notorious acts of treason in British history. A group of Catholic conspirators, among them a Yorkshireman, Guy Fawkes, tried to blow up parliament.
JAS cartoon

It is a crime that has resonated down the centuries. Nobody then doubted - and few have since - that the 1605 Gunpowder Plot amounted to treason, nor that the penalty would be as inevitable as it was gruesome - lengthy torture, followed by grisly execution. Yet Fawkes would not have considered himself a traitor. He put his religion before his country. During the final few years of Elizabeth's reign he even enlisted in the Spanish army to fight for the cause.

Once more, the cry of "treason" is being levelled against British citizens who put their religion before their country. Another Yorkshireman, Mohamed Sidique Khan, one of the London suicide bombers, left a video in which he accused western governments of ''continuously perpetuating injustice against my people all over the world... Until we feel security, you will be our targets. We are at war, and I am a soldier.''

Fawkes would have understood those sentiments; and there are other parallels between what was happening in 1605 and today. [...]

Although most November 5 bonfires burn Guy Fawkes in effigy, for centuries it was more likely to be the Pope, as it still is in some parts of the country. Yet the vast majority of Catholics under James I were loyal to their king and country and paid an unjustifiably heavy price for the actions of the plotters. As we remember once more the Fifth of November, let us also not forget what a frightened and intolerant society we once were and how far we have come in the intervening 400 years.

And now there's a Catholic PM.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2005 7:02 AM

And, as Mr. Johnston should have added, the "other" ought to remember what a frightened and intolerant people can do to a minority they fear.

Posted by: Mikey at October 31, 2005 8:38 AM

I don't get it. Does anyone thing that blowing up government buildings with the intent to support a foreign power against one's own country is NOT treason?

As to the Hadji guy who warned his own country, ". . .You will be our targets. We are at war, and I am a soldier," assume that he acted on his intent, and that these were not mere words, does anyone think that THIS would not be treason?

I see squeamishness here, an unwillingness to face up to facts.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 31, 2005 10:16 AM

Guy Fawkes . . . why did he hate us?

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 31, 2005 11:27 AM


The same reason as Osama, times had passed him by.

Posted by: oj at October 31, 2005 12:49 PM

Times change, the real gap is no longer between Catholics and Protestants, but between belivers and non-belivers.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 31, 2005 5:50 PM