Category Archives: History and Civilization

“Behold El Capitan,” “Remember the Maine,” Guy Fawkes’ Day, September 11, and the Culture of Deception

Some of my happiest days as an undergraduate at Tulane University were spent in Dixon Hall under the tutelage of my voice and singing instructor Francis Monachino, long-time Chairman of the Tulane & Newcomb Music Departments and a great and inspiring teacher.

My first part in any major production at Tulane was as “Senor Amibile Pozzo, Chamberlain of Peru” in John Philip Sousa’s Comic Operetta El Capitán (Premiered in April 1896 in Boston & New York). I never realized it at the time, but this comedy had great historical significance, and may have played a part in launching 20th Century America’s Culture of Deceit and Deception.

The plot is pure farce, on its face: “El Capitán” is in fact Don Enrique Medigua, a fictional Spanish Viceroy of Peru, which was in reality the richest of all the dominions in the New World, whose production of gold, silver, and agricultural products far outstripped even Mexico during the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries. Don Medigua fears assassination by rebels, and secretly arranges for the murder of the (real) rebel leader known as “El Capitán” (so the real rebel leader plays no part in the operetta). Unbeknownst to the rebels or anyone except his Chamberlain Pozzo, Don Medigua disguises himself as El Capitán and sabotages the rebel movement from within, but not before allowing the beautiful Estrelda, daughter of the former Viceroy, to fall madly in love with him based on his reputation as a fierce terrorist and warrior. Don Medigua’s actual wife and daughter think he has been kidnapped by the rebels and have Pozzo pretend to be the Viceroy so that the Spanish born Aristocrats of Peru will not lose hope and despair. An enterprising band of rebels then capture Pozzo, believing him to be the real Viceroy, and bring him before El Capitán who is, of course by this time in something of a pickle. But Don Medigua disguised as El Capitán has so completely exhausted the rebels by his “mis-leadership” that the rebellion collapses, the Spanish nobility wins, and the story ends “happily.”

A thought that never occurred to me when I was playing Pozzo at 16 (to Anthony Laciura’s brilliant performance as Don Medigua/El Capitán) now seems so obvious to me: was it mere coincidence that the most popular writer of military marches in American history composed this operetta less than two years before the sinking of the Battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. Most historians now concur that the Maine, the second armoured cruiser (pre-dreadnought Battleship) in the U.S. Navy, was deliberately sunk by its crew for the sole purpose of inciting American popular opinion in favor of America’s first “World Wide War” of expeditionary conquest (i.e., the direct precursor of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq). El Capitán exemplifies the literary, historical, and/or dramatic trope that certain ideas appear first as a comic joke and then are later taken seriously: if John Philip Sousa’s operetta was not the template for the sinking of the Maine, it is nevertheless a remarkable historical coincidence that Don Medigua first murders and then impersonates his enemy in order to defeat him in a popular drama that was still playing all over the United States when the USS Maine blew up.

And yes, I write all this at the close of Guy Fawkes’ Day, November 5, 2011: Remember, Remember the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot. I like to pat myself on the back and brag that no sooner had Osama bin Laden been named as the perpetrator of 9-11 than I predicted with great confidence that he was the new Gunpowder Plotter, and that 9-11 was the new 5th of November. I predicted that bin Laden’s name would endure forever beside Guy Fawkes, but unfortunately, I had no role in producing the amazing movie based on that theme which came out in 2005, on the 400th Anniversary of the original Gunpowder plot in 1605.

V-for-Vendetta remains, to my mind, probably the finest political movie of the century, and I mean the past hundred years since the beginning of the cinematic film industry, not just the 21st Century in which we have lived for barely 11 years. Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving marvelously portray the principle characters in this story which explores all the possibilities of the use of the Guy Fawkes gunpowder story, and this movie has in turn given a new birth of metaphoric and dimensional analysis to the study of false flag attacks, false heroism, and the role of government as “first among all liars.”

There is not a shred of doubt that the movie V-for-Vendetta is the story of 9-11, metaphorically, allegorically, fictionalized as Britain under a pseudo-Fascist (Adam Sutler, whose name is awfully reminiscent of Adolph Hitler) instead of the United States of America under a pseudo-Republican (George W. Bush), in future time rather than historical, but with so many direct references to 9-11 and associated events…. well, it’s just incredible.

Also incredible to me is that the Wikipedia article on V-for-Vendetta does not even mention the parallels between the Sutler regime’s use of false-flag bioterrorism against the British people and the (9-11 “Truth Movement’s” theory that the) Bush regime used false-flag air terrorism against the American people. To me, the parallels are inescapable: the producers of V-for-Vendetta analyzed the same facts concerning recent history as those which gave rise to the 9-11 Truth Movement and came to the conclusion that terrorism originates not (primarily anyhow) with real Muslim extremists but with governments who see the “genius” of fear and use it against their own people to suppress civil liberties and maintain power.

The Muslim terrorists (in both North American and Western European modern history and V-for-Vendetta mythology), to the extent that they are real, are rather like Guy Fawkes in the 17th century. Modern Muslim terrorists, like Papist plotters of the past, have great value as symbols and embodiments of a real but rather vague threat to the national identity which justify the use and maintenance of real power. The Papist threat in England could only materialize when it comes in the form of a Catholic King (like King James II Stuart, grandson of James I, against whom Guy Fawkes allegedly plotted, and younger brother of Charles II who had no legitimate offspring [although he had literally dozens of illegitimate children by his mistresses]. The tumultuous history of 17th Century Stuart England focused on the maintenance of royal power through popular fear of Catholicism, balanced against royal fear of popular power manifested through Cromwell’s Civil War and Commonwealth (including the Regicide/Martyrdom Murder/Execution of King Charles I on January 31, 1649 after a preposterous “show” trial of the King for treason) and finally the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688-1689 which firmly established the modern Constitutional Monarchy of Great Britain ruled by Parliament.

In Adam Sutler’s England, like George Bush’s America, maintaining fear of Muslims among the people supported the repression of the historical “English Freedoms” secured under Elizabeth I, James I, Charles II, and William III & Mary II. If there are real fears of Muslim domination in America, they are coming to fruition under George W. Bush’s successor, “Barack Hussein Obama” whose name resoundingly echoes both “Osama” (bin Ladin, the modern Guy Fawkes) and the former dictator of Iraq whom George W. Bush decided to eliminate to maximize control over a nation which simply did not accept the “Bush doctrine” of Global government under US control.

Any way you look at it: elaborate governmental lies concerning faked attacks and falsified heroes have been used to justify strong central governments for a very long time now. It is hard to say whether the original Gunpowder Plot was real or staged. The “November 5″ plot on King James I and his wife and Court MIGHT have been real, and if so, it was a REALLY stupid plot (there was not enough Gunpowder under the houses of Parliament or any other explosive technology available in 1605 to have blown through and killed the King). Even if successful, the plotters had no Papist “nominee” lined up to become King of England on King James’ death, and James’ eldest son at the time, the future Charles I, was only two weeks short of five years old on November 5, 1605. (But admittedly, if James AND his children had been killed, legitimate succession at that point might have been very difficult, in that no English Monarch since Henry VIII had had any children: all of Henry Tudor’s children: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, died childless, possibly in part a testament to their own horror at their father’s gruesome “family and marital” life and history).

Other historians have seen Guy Fawkes as a “Patsy” (scapegoat) comparable in real role and status to Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, being the “Fall Guy” for the “False Flag” Gunpowder Plot just as “9-11 Truthers” (including this writer) believe that Osama bin Laden was merely the “Patsy” for the events of 1998-2001 and afterwards which gave rise to the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and all the subsequent greatest suppressions of English and American liberties in the entire history of both nations since the reign of Henry VIII (who died 102 years and 3 days before the execution of Charles I, on January 28, 1547).

The study of “false flag” terrorism and warfare is a rising subject of historical deconstruction. It is stark testimony to the general lack of confidence people have in the U.S. government that a large number of people (polls differ) disbelieve the “official stories” of the Warren Commission concerning the events of November 1963 in Dallas, the origins of the Vietnam War in the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident the very next year, in August of 1964, and the subsequent stories of the events in the 1990s at Ruby Ridge (Idaho), Mount Carmel (Waco, Texas), Oklahoma City, the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and finally 9-11 itself in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Pearl Harbor, the trigger for World War II, was obviously not a “False Flag” attack (there is not and has never been any doubt that the Imperial Japanese Navy was correctly identified as the culprit, and that it acted under official orders from Tokyo). But many Americans (and others worldwide) believe that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had despaired of ever finding a politically adequate or emotionally sufficient excuse to embroil or involve the United States into World War II, and so he either expressly invited the Japanese to attack or at the very least intentionally disabled the U.S. Naval and air forces around Hawaii in early December 1941.

The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, in this day, appear to be governments based on a culture of pure deceit and deception. All governmental pronouncements and actions should be regarded with the most stringent suspicion. As one of the newscasters says in V-for-Vendetta “we just report the news, we don’t make it up….that’s the government’s job.”

March 6, 2011—Remember the Alamo! (and Goliad too!)

What more can anyone say? ”Remember the Alamo and Goliad too!” My grandparents Helen and Alphonse Meyer took me to visit the Alamo as almost the first thing to do in Texas when I arrived to live with them in Dallas, Texas after my parents split up. This move was the first extremely strange transition in my life: my maternal grandmother Helen and her butler named Kermit went to pick me up and take me from my parents, whom my grandparents considered to be neglecting me. This was in 1966, long before the State of Texas made its is business to interfere in every possible event in every family’s life. And as unorthodox as this method of making child-custody transfer might sound to the modern reader, it might possibly have been the case that my parents were in fact neglecting me because my mother only showed up in Dallas quite a bit later, not having noticed my absence for sometime. Anyhow, all of this happened the summer after I turned six.

And so it was then that “Remember the Alamo” became the first “Patriotic Slogan” I ever remember learning. I obviously had already learned “God Save the Queen” first, but I was very young and don’t remember actually learning that particular salute. But I do remember my grandparents teaching me to Cheer outloud “Remember the Alamo” although I’m not sure where I was supposed to use this cheer or to whom I was supposed to address it. I recall my grandfather, “Al”, stopped the family at some particularly significant place around the Alamo and led us in a private family prayer for the fallen heroes.

Though himself the grandson of a British peer of the realm, my grandfather was born in Galveston and steeped in Texas history and patriotism. In his opinion, he insisted it was just as important, if not more so, to remember Colonel Fannin and the March 27 massacre at Goliad as it was to remember the Alamo, because more men died at Goliad, and they died more brutally, having been executed in cold blood. So this initial tour of South Texas in 1966 also included a trip to Goliad and finally to the San Jacinto Battlefield and the Battleship Texas.

But unlike William Barret Travis’ “I am besieged…I have sustained continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man….I shall never surrender or retreat” February 24, 1836 letter from the Alamo, Colonel Fannin had left no eloquent written testimonial to pass down and post on the library wall. Nor have dozens of movies been made about Fannin and Goliad, certainly nothing like John Wayne’s “The Alamo“. This great mythical movie (historians say not a single scene in the picture can be directly related to any document-based “fact”) was completed and released the year I was born in Texas (1960) on October 24, which just happened to be the day my parents arrived in London on the Queen Mary. This particular cinematic extravaganza just happened to have been made in Texas ONLY over John Wayne’s efforts and objections.

Happy Shahan was a rancher in southern Texas [Wayne’s team constructed an “Alamo Village” near Brackettville in Kinney County, on the old “Camino Real” between San Antonio and El Paso, just a few miles from the Rio Grande and Mexican Border]. …. [Shahan’s] big break came when he secured The Alamo (1960). John Wayne had originally decided to make the film in Mexico where he owned land. However, it quickly became apparent he would face a boycott from the Daughters of the Republic and it was politically expedient to make the film in Texas (Rothel, 1990: 13-15). http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/mgt/research/working-papers/2006/wp36-06.pdf

It is one of those passing ironies of the interaction of history and myth that Wayne wanted and originally planned to film his Epic of Texas Independence in the State of Durango, Mexico, which to Wayne at least and the other producers looked much more like Texas “should” have looked in 1836 than Texas in recent times ever could have looked. John Wayne also owned a ranch in Durango and made several other films there. The point is that the reenactment of history is a matter of politically powerful myth—and apparently the Daughters of the Republic of Texas believed that to make a movie about the Alamo in Mexico would somehow be “taboo”—even though Wayne certainly would have been right in pointing out that, of course, when the Battle of the Alamo was fought, and for the three hundred years preceding the siege, Texas had been politically and legally defined (in European law and cartography at least) as part of Mexico—first as part of the the Viceroyalty of New Spain, then as part of the Empire and finally the Republic of Mexico).

There is some unfortunate documentation in the record of diaries left by certain Mexican officers that Davie Crockett in particular and other nearly legendary heroes may not have died quite as heroically as portrayed in the movies, but the simple truth is that the Texas Revolution started to defend the Mexican Constitution of 1823, and the defenders of the Alamo flew a flag to prove that point. In 1836 there was no conflict between Anglo and Hispanic (Mexican) Creoles in Texas—there was only a conflict between dictatorship and Democratic-Republican Government. Any modern attempt to recast the Texas revolution as an Anglo-Hispanic race-oriented dispute have to deal with the fact that the Texas Declaration of Independence was written by the Tecoh, Yucatan-born Mexican Statesman Ernesto de Zavala and that Texas and Yucatan both separated from Santa Ana’s Mexico and formed an independent alliance—and although both Yucatan and Texas applied for U.S. Statehood, somewhat tragically, only Texas was admitted. Yucatan Governor Justo Sierra O’Reilly made the mistake of trying to seek admission for Yucatan as a “free” state—despite the existence of a Plantation economy throughout the Peninsula—and the South at the point relied much too heavily on the Missouri Compromise of 1820 *(later declared unconstitutional in Scott v. Sanford, 1857) and did not wish to allow “free” states both south and north of the Dixie Heartland. The Yucatan Peninsula would have made a fine addition to the United States, and the Yucatec Creoles and Maya an amazing enrichment of the United States population (both White and Native American). It is easy to see how the outcome of the war of 1861-65 would have been different, if it had happened at all, had Yucatan been part of the Confederacy….instead of the most pro-Imperial province of the Hapsburg Emperor Maxmillian’s shortlived “Imperio Mexicano”.

Ernesto Zavala’s house in Merida still bears a plaque celebrating the historical contacts between Texas and Yucatan and is preserved as a historic landmark. In Texas, there is not only a “Zavala” County but also a building on the Texas State Capitol grounds, just southeast of the South Facing domed statehouse, named after him, the Zavala building—it is the State Archive and Historical Records building. During the Short-Lived Republic of Yucatan, which declared its independence (without bloodshed) in 1838, two years after Texas, Texas and Yucatan jointly developed a very small Naval force to patrol the Gulf of Mexico between Galveston and Progresso.

Justo Sierra O’Reilly’s travel to Washington applying for admission to the Union is the subject of quite a bit of writing in Mexico, and he is a controversial figure in that he was seeking (among other things) a U.S. alliance against the Maya uprising known as “The Caste War of Yucatan”. Yucatan’s separatism from Mexico preceded the U.S. War with Mexico in 1846-48, but Justo Sierra O’Reilly’s interest in seeing Yucatan admitted continued even after the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo confirmed the transfer of California, Texas, New Mexico, what is now Arizona, Nevada, and Utah to the United States in 1848. Yucatan was officially neutral in the war with the United States but many in Sierra O’Reilly’s position supported full annexation and integration, even while the stars and stripes flew over Chapultepec Castle under the immediate intendency and command of one Colonel Robert E. Lee, nephew of a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Some Mexicans regard Sierra O’Reilly as a traitor like Benedict Arnold or Aaron Burr in the U.S., but those who fly the (suppressed) flag of the independent Republic of Yucatan regard him as a hero. Justo Sierra O’Reilly wrote a very disappointed “Impresiones de un Viaje a los Estados Unidos e Canada” which used to be and probably still is in print in Yucatan, although I haven’t noticed it on the bookstore shelves in recent years. Yucatan’s separatist tendencies survived a long time after O’Reilly. Empress Carlotta, even in her madness later in life, recalled the especially warm welcome she and her ill-fated husband received in Yucatan, and there was an active separatist movement in Yucatan as late as the 1960s.

One could say that the de facto annexation of Cancun and the East Coast of Quintana Roo as an American colony (at least during Spring break, but for most of the winter tourist season) starting in 1971 was the final death blow to Yucatec separatism—in that one can now hear significantly more English spoken on the streets and beaches of Cancun than one can on the streets of Miami or Miami Beach…