The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Though not so much known in the States, November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day in England. In 1605, a group of conspirators, angry at King James I for continuing his mother Elizabeth I’s intolerance of Catholics, decided to take matter into their own hands. They stored 36 kegs of gunpowder underneath the houses of Parliament hoping to kill the king and those members of Parliament who were making life difficult for Catholics.
Their plans were foiled, largely due to some members of the conspiracy having second thoughts and sending a warning letter which reached the king. Unfortunately for Guy Fawkes, he was the one caught with the gunpowder. He was arrested, tortured and executed.
It all may seem like it happened a long time ago, but even today, when the Queen comes to address Parliament on “the State Opening of Parliament” which happens once a year, guards search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster.
Back in 1605, bonfires were lit celebrating the safety of the king. Ever since, bonfires are lit on the night of November 5, effigies of Guy are burnt on them, and there are firework displays to commemorate the foiling of the plot.
Today Guy Fawkes masks (made famous by the film V for Vendetta) may be worn by those protesting many things, such as the widespread Occupy protests in the US a few years ago. I guess whether you see him as a hero or a villain depends on where you stand in the political spectrum.
Quotes about protests
Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.–William Faulkner
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.–Elie Wiesel
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.–Henry David Thoreau
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.–Desmond Tutu
Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.–Leonardo da Vinci
One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.–Martin Luther King Jr.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.–John F. Kennedy
Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.–Mahatma Gandhi
Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.–Howard Zinn
If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.–Albert Einstein
No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.–Barbara Ehrenreich
It was civil disobedience that won them their civil rights.–Tariq Ali
The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.–Emma Goldman
If you try to silence dissent, then something is very, very wrong.–G. R. Reader
Justice has a right to protest against injustice.–Kristian Goldmund Aumann
The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That’s all.–Martin Luther King Jr.
I went to jail for 11 days for disturbing the peace; I was trying to disturb the war.–Joan Baez
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