Posts Tagged ‘Dick Turpin’

Matt Walsh on the Celebration of Villains like Alfred Kinsey and the Women Warrior Slavers of Dahomey

September 13, 2022

Yeah, I know, it’s Matt Walsh, one of the major figures in popular Republican propaganda. The great commenters on this blog have warned me about reblogging material from the right, as I shouldn’t let myself become a mouthpiece for them and they never reciprocate. Helen Pluckrose, a left-wing critic of the postmodern ideologies of Queer and Critical Race Theory and Postcolonial Studies wrote a piece for James Lindsay’s New Discourses calling for the right to stop demonising the left and recognise that much of the work refuting these highly damaging ideologies was actually being done by leftists. She’s absolutely right. But yes, Walsh is still using it to take swipes at the left. And the Lotus Eaters have put up a piece about how ‘Socialists Are Terrible People’. The thumbnail to the video shows Hasan Piker, who is an obnoxious pratt. There was a clip of him on one of the right-wing channels raving about the ‘glorious Muslim enslavement of Whites’.

But I feel I have to put up videos like this one from Walsh because they are tackling important issues which I don’t see being done from the left. Or at least, not the mainstream British left. In this video Walsh attacks the way traditional western heroes, who were often people with very serious flaws, are being removed and replaced with people who are villains, but suit the ideology now being pushed. He gives two examples. One is the erection of a statue to sexologist Alfred Kinsey at Indiana University, where already a building or a wing has been named after him. The other is the film The Woman King, about a female general in the corps of women warriors, the Amazons, of Dahomey. This soldier, Nasicka, leads the resistance to the French invasion of her homeland.

Walsh points out that Kinsey was paedophile, who paid child rapists as his informants. He was convinced that children and babies were sexual beings. One of the tables in his Report on Sexuality of the Human Male, or whatever it was called, records the sexual responses of children from 5 months to 15 years old. This was based on information supplied to him, and which he paid for, by child rapists. For Walsh, this utterly invalidates everything Kinsey has ever done, and definitely means he should not be celebrated. I find it hard to disagree with the latter statement.

As for the women warriors of Dahomey, Walsh discusses how the critics are raving about the film because it ticks all the boxes – women warriors and Black Africans, who represented as fighting for their freedom against the evil Whites. He invents two quotes from critics supposedly saying that it made them ashamed to be White and having White children as an example of the excesses the critic’s praises nearly reach. In fact, Dahomey was a state geared to war and the enslavement of other Africans. Captured slaves were either put on plantations to grow food for the army, or were sold to outsiders, including Europeans. The Amazons were part of that slavery war machine, but the film grotesquely portrays them as abolitionists. If the slaves weren’t sold, they were killed. Walsh cites the Encyclopaedia Britannica about Dahomey, but the same facts can be found in any number of other, mainstream, standard histories of Africa. He is also right when he says that the British fought a war against Dahomey to stop them slaving. Again, totally true. Uncovered Editions published a collection of the British government papers about the war in 2001 as King Guezo of Dahomey, 1850-52: The Abolition of Slavery in West Africa. And the Dahomeyans did massacre or hold mass human sacrifices of unsold slaves. Sometime in the 19th century they massacred 300 of them, which shocked Europeans, including seasoned explorers like Captain Denham. Denham told a British parliamentary inquiry that the mass murder was especially shocking, given the advances these civilisations had made in most of the arts of civilisation. Which to me shows that Denham, while seeing western civilisation as superior, did not regard west Africans as uncivilised savages.

Walsh mentions that Hollywood frequently takes liberties with history but regards this glamorisation of an African slave state as particularly grotesque. It is as if a film rewrote history to show the Confederacy as the heroes fighting against slavery. Again, true. I can see why the film is being widely praised coming as it does after BLM and the new denunciations of White supremacy, racism and imperialism. I’m very much aware the reality behind many traditional western heroes is far different from the legend. Folk heroes like Dick Turpin and the western gunfighters were brutal thugs. And I’m also aware of the old newspaper maxim about the heroes of the Old West – if there’s a difference between fact and legend, print the legend. But equally, if there are two choices, two causes or individuals equally as bad, you’re quite entitled to choose neither. Just because Hitler was a monster doesn’t mean that you have to support Stalin.

And so just because western imperialism was responsible for some monstrous evils, you don’t have to glamorise and celebrate Black imperialist, slaving monsters.

Trailer for Historical Epic about African Queen and Her Female Warriors’ Resistance to European Conquest

July 7, 2022

I found this video for the forthcoming movie, The Woman King on YouTube yesterday. It seems to be about an African queen who trains her people and sets up an army of female warriors to fight back against the Europeans conquering Africa. I have a feeling that it might be based on real African history. There have been powerful queens, including one who seized power and ruled as a king. And the king of Dahomey had a regiment of female warriors, the famous amazons. There, I think, the relation to real history ends.

This film appears to be set in the 18th century from the European’s style of dress. The Europeans weren’t conquering and colonising Africa at this point in history. They couldn’t. Before the discovery of quinine as a treatment for malaria, Europeans were prevented from travelling further inland by the coastal swamps. Africa was also seen as too distant to be valuable as a colonial possession. There was some colonisation, such as by the Portuguese in what is now Mozambique and by the Dutch on the Cape of Good Hope, but that was about it. Sierra Leone was established by the Spanish, but later in the 18th century the British acquired it as a colony for freed slaves. But mostly Europeans were confined to ghetto-like enclaves in African towns and prevented from going any further into the continent and conquering it by powerful African kingdoms. Europeans wanted slaves and other African goods, like ivory, but they got these through trade with the Africans themselves. By and large Europeans didn’t go raiding for slaves. African chiefs, like King Guezo of Dahomey and others did. As for the amazons, they were also involved in slave raiding. A Black female historian, who presented a programme on them on the Beeb, said that the amazons couldn’t be regarded as feminist heroines. But this doesn’t seem to have stopped the makers of this movie.

This clearly follows the pattern set by Marvel’s Black Panther, which was about a Black superhero fighting for Black rights and against his evil rivals. This character was the king of the technologically advanced African kingdom of Wakanda. It was a piece of Afrofuturism, Black SF. Critically acclaimed and a success at the box office, this seems to have encouraged film makers to look for similar material. In this movie’s case, they found it in African history.

This is the type of film and TV production that annoys Simon Webb of History Debunked, who posts videos about the way such films and TV programmes falsify history to promote Blacks. He doesn’t seem to have noticed this one yet, but no doubt he will. But Hollywood and the media generally aren’t factually accurate. The constraints of writing a dramatic narrative work against that, whatever genre you’re pursuing. And so many of the great folk heroes celebrated in song, literature, film and TV series were in real life brutal thugs. A good example is Dick Turpin, who was actually a nasty piece of work far removed from the gallant, romantic hero of the myth. Will the film be a success? I don’t know. It’ll be popular in Africa, certainly, and among some Black Americans, but it might be too woke for a mainstream western audience. Only time will tell.

English History through the Broadside Ballad

December 24, 2019

A Ballad History of England: From 1588 to the Present Day, by Roy Palmer (London: BT Batsford 1979).

From the 16th century to the 20th, the broadside ballad was part of the popular music of British working people. They were written on important topics of the day, and printed and published for ordinary people. They would be sung by the ballad sellers themselves while hawking their wares. This book is a collection of popular ballads, assembled and with introductory notes by the folklorist Roy Palmer. It begins with the song ‘A Ioyful New Ballad’ from 1588 about the Armada, and ends with ‘The Men Who Make The Steel’ from 1973 about the steelworkers’ strike. Unlike the earlier songs, it was issued as a record with three other songs in 1975. The ballads’ texts are accompanied by sheet music of the tunes to which they were sung. Quite often the tunes used were well-known existing melodies, so the audience were already familiar with the music, though not the new words which had been fitted to them.

The ballads cover such important events in English and wider British history as a Lincolnshire witch trial; the draining of the fens; the Diggers, a Communist sect in the British Civil War; Oak Apple Day, celebrating the narrow escape of Charles II from the Parliamentarians in 1660; the defeat of the Monmouth Rebellion; the execution of Jacobite rebels in 1715; the South Sea Bubble; Dick Turpin, the highwayman; the Scots defeat at Culloden; emigration to Nova Scotia in Canada; Wolfe’s capture of Quebec; the enclosures; the Birmingham and Worcester Canal; the 18th century radical and advocate for democracy, Tom Paine; the mechanisation of the silk industry; the establishment of income tax; the death of Nelson; the introduction of the treadmill in prison; the Peterloo Massacre and bitter polemical attacks against Lord Castlereagh; Peel’s establishment of the police; body snatching; the 1834 New Poor Law, which introduced the workhouse system; poaching; the 1839 Chartist meeting at Newport; Queen Victoria’s marriage to Albert; Richard Oastler and the factory acts; the repeal of the Corn Laws; Bloomers; the construction of the Oxford railway; Charles Dickens¬†visit to Coketown; the Liverpool Master Builders’ strike of 1866; agitating for the National Agricultural Union of farmworkers; the introduction of the Plimsoll line on ships; an explosion at Trimdon Grange colliery in County Durham; a 19th century socialist song by John Bruce Glasier, a member of the William Morris’ Socialist League and then the ILP; the Suffragettes; soldiers’ songs from the Boer War and the First World War; unemployed ex-servicemen after the War; the defeat of the General Strike; the Blitz; Ban the Bomb from 1958; and the Great Train Robbery.¬†

It also includes many other songs from servicemen down the centuries commemorating the deaths of great heroes and victories; and by soldiers, sailors and working people on land protesting against working conditions, tax, and economic recessions and exorbitant speculation on the stock markets. Some are just on the changes to roads, as well as local disasters.

This is a kind of social history, a history of England from below, apart from the conventional point of view of the upper or upper middle class historians, and shows how these events were viewed by tradesmen and working people. Not all the songs by any means are from a radical or socialist viewpoint. The ballad about Tom Paine is written against him, though he was a popular hero and there were also tunes, like the ‘Rights of Man’ named after his most famous book, celebrating him. But nevertheless, these songs show history as it was seen by England’s ordinary people, the people who fought in the navy and army, and toiled in the fields and workshops. These songs are a balance to the kind of history Michael Gove wished to bring in a few years ago when he railed against children being taught the ‘Blackadder’ view of the First World War. He’d like people to be taught a suitably Tory version of history, a kind of ‘merrie England’ in which Britain is always great and the British people content with their lot under the benign rule of people like David Cameron, Tweezer and Boris. The ballads collected here offer a different, complementary view.