According to Eric Cantor, the protesters that began occupying Wall Street on September 17th are a “mob”. Mr. Cantor, for your information, the First Amendment to the Constitution reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Occupy Wall Street is a peaceful assembly of citizens petitioning their government for redress of widespread economic grievances. Oh ye who hold up the Constitution as the document sanctioning your political maneuvers should read the damned thing first.
Bruised, battered Vermont has joined the network of support for
the Occupy Wall Street movement. The October 3rd rally in Burlington gathered approximately 150 people.
Yesterday’s began with 250 and swelled to around 500 by the time they halted for speeches in front of the Citizens Bank. The Sunday protests will continue for the foreseeable future,meeting at city hall and marching up Church Street, the city’s pedestrian mall and center of the retail district.
While a substantial number of the protesters and organizers are college students, this is obviously not a single-generation protest movement. Looking through the photos of the event, you see a lot of grey hair out there.
The other thing that struck me was photos of a protester in a Guy Fawkes mask. Now, for those of you whose only acquaintance with Guy Fawkes is V for Vendetta, let me give you a bit of a primer in English history.
In 1585 it was illegal to be a Catholic in England. All citizens were required to attend the Anglican Church, headed by King James I; priests were hunted down, the properties of the Catholic Church were confiscated, abbeys and convents were shut. This was the England of Guy Fawkes, who became a Catholic at some point after his widowed mother married a Catholic.
After leaving England to fight for Catholic Spain in her war with the Dutch in his early adulthood, Fawkes returned to England and became a co-conspirator in the Gunpowder Plot. The goals of this plot were to blow up Parliament, kill King James I and install his daughter Elizabeth on the throne. Fawkes was arrested November 5, 1605 leaving the rented undercroft under the Parliament building where the gunpowder was stored. In spite of impressing King James that first night, who described Fawkes as possessing “a Roman resolution”, Fawkes was tortured for the next three days, finally breaking, confessing the plot and naming his co-conspirators.
His trial January 27, 1606 resulted in a guilty verdict for high treason and a sentence of being hanged, drawn, castrated, disemboweled and quartered, with his body parts to be sent around the country as a warning to others. At his execution on January 30th, Fawkes managed to throw himself off the scaffolding before being hung, breaking his neck and avoiding the horror for being alive through the later stages of the sentence.
Britain’s Guy Fawkes Day actually began the day of Fawkes arrest, with bonfires being ordered lit in celebration that the king had escaped assassination. An Act of Parliament subsequently made it an annual event, marked with bonfires, fireworks and the burning of Guy Fawkes in effigy. The law remained in effect until 1859, eighteen years after William Harrison Ainsworth’s novel Guy Fawkes cast him and the rebellion in a sympathetic light, and Fawkes began to be perceived as a sort of patron saint of anti-government protestors. Fawkes is now known as “the only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions”.
So we have a protester from the group Anonymous who is trying on the mantle of Guy Fawkes, by wearing his face. Anonymous seems to have adopted the Guy Fawkes mask as an emblem. FYI: these are the folks who put the families of Arizona state police at risk by publishing their names and addresses for the hell of it. I suppose it’s fitting, as Fawkes was essentially a terrorist. The only reason he is not reviled is that he failed. Several hundred deaths are not credited to him. He avoided being England’s Timothy McVeigh.
While the global Occupy Wall Street protests go on, perhaps the organizers might want to consider whether or not they want a Guy Fawkes or Julian Assange marching in their midst. Their presence will rob the movement of credibility.