“It’s Not Easy Being Green”—Kermit & Ray Charles Guest Star on the Cher show, 1975

A Homosexual, a Pioneer, a Human rights Activist, & a Fiery Freedom Fighter—Hung by the Crown for Treason: Meet Sir Robert Casement

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Untold story of one of the most horrifying crimes of the twentieth century.

In September 1910, the human rights activist and anti-imperialist Roger Casement arrived in the Amazon to investigate reports of widespread human rights abuses in the vast forests stretching along the Putumayo river. There, the Peruvian entrepreneur Julio César Arana ran an area the size of Belgium as his own private fiefdom; his British registered company operated a systematic programme of torture, exploitation and murder.

Fresh from documenting the scarcely imaginable atrocities perpetrated by King Leopold in the Congo, Casement was confronted with an all too recognisable scenario. He uncovered an appalling catalogue of abuse: nearly 30,000 Indians had died to produce four thousand tonnes of rubber.

From the Peruvian rainforests to the City of London, Jordan Goodman, in The Devil and Mr. Casement, recounts a crime against humanity that history has almost forgotten, but whose exposure in 1912 sent shockwaves around the world. Drawing on a wealth of original research, The Devil and Mr Casement is a story of colonial exploitation and corporate greed with enormous contemporary political resonance.

Reviews

“Meticulously researched … A riveting, if harrowing, narrative which, in its treatment of corporate greed and exploitation, is full of contemporary resonance. A rich, moving, important book.” – Independent on Sunday

Above, clockwise: Casement in his 50s, he would be executed shortly; walking out of court after his appeal had been denied; Casement’s funeral in Ireland.

The New Yorker:

In 1910, the British government asked Roger Casement, a consular official, to investigate reports that a British-registered rubber-trading company was exploiting Barbadian workers in the Amazon. Intrepid and resourceful, Casement gathered testimonies about the armed extortion and debt bondage that supported the rubber trade. Back in London, he championed the rights of the Barbadian migrants as well as those of the indigenous Indians, tens of thousands of whom had died harvesting wild rubber for their masters. Casement was knighted for his efforts. But the adulation did not last. An Irish nationalist, he eventually left the consular services and devoted himself to organizing and arming the Irish Volunteers. In 1916, he was arrested and hanged for treason. With vivid touches of imagination and humor, Goodman captures the drama and paradox of Casement’s varied life. ♦

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In 1910, the British government asked Roger Casement, a consular official, to investigate reports that a British-registered rubber-trading company was exploiting Barbadian workers in the Amazon. Intrepid and resourceful, Casement gathered testimonies about the armed extortion and debt bondage that supported the rubber trade. Back in London, he championed the rights of the Barbadian migrants as well as those of the indigenous Indians, tens of thousands of whom had died harvesting wild rubber for their masters. Casement was knighted for his efforts. But the adulation did not last. An Irish nationalist, he eventually left the consular services and devoted himself to organizing and arming the Irish Volunteers. In 1916, he was arrested and hanged for treason. With vivid touches of imagination and humor, Goodman captures the drama and paradox of Casement’s varied life. ♦

Further Reading

https://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/casement.htm

http://www.easter1916.ie/index.php/people/a-z/roger-casement/

https://www.planetromeo.com/en/blog/gay-history-sir-roger-casement/

https://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/the-life-and-death-of-roger-casement

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/28/roger-casement-gay-irish-martyr-or-victim-of-a-british-forgery

https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/roger-casement-easter-rising-executed

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n17/colm-toibin/a-man-of-no-mind

https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/11/roger-casement-the-gay-irish-humanitarian-who-was-hanged-on-a-comma

Click thumbnails to enlarge images:

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Link to The Devil and Mr. Casement

Current Read: The Isle, A New England Gothic Novel by John C. Foster! (Chapter 1+Link)

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Chapter One

“I need you to bring back a body.”

Bone decided to drive off the end of the pier, but his foot had already slipped from the accelerator to the brake, a betrayal so automatic that the opportunity was missed before he could seize it.

Wind leaned against the hearse, rocking it on its springs as he sat and considered his orders. He considered corpses and the function of the vehicle he drove. He considered the drifting nature of his movements since the accident and slid out of the hearse before the spiral became inescapable, a long man wearing a black raincoat and fresh facial scars.

Dawn was a red rim of anger on the horizon as the storm gathered its strength and the wind tried to rip the door from his grip. Waves detonated against the rocks with loud explosions of white foam, the ocean matching the swirling fury of the storm clouds overhead.

“I need you to bring back a body.” Marching orders. He looked away from the hearse, remembering the last time he had seen such a car, freshly waxed and gleaming in the October sun. This one was dirt-streaked and hunched against November. He thought it more appropriate to its function. The Atlantic beckoned to him, and he touched the change in his pocket, thinking about coins for the ferryman.

“Some sonofabitch is standing out on North Pier,” old Vic said from the window inside the cramped Dock Office. His big-knuckled, arthritic hands were holding a bulky pair of binoculars he had owned since his time in Vietnam, and he adjusted the focus to see better.

“Yep,” the dock boss said from his perch at the rickety metal desk. The white paint was mostly gone and salt air had rusted the legs, but it held his ledger, dock schedule and overstuffed ticket book—he was a demon for writing tickets—and worked “well enough” as he liked to say about anything that didn’t need change. “Bastid asked to charter a boat out to the Isle.”

Vic turned away from the window with its view of fishing boats bobbing at anchor in the small bay. “Ain’t no one fool enough to run ‘im out there,” he said.

The dock boss leaned over and spit a mass of phlegm and tobacco juice into the Folger’s can he kept on the floor for just that purpose.

“Could be I mentioned that, and could be that’s why he’s standin’ over there on North Pier waitin’ on the Isle boat herself.”

Vic returned to looking out the window at the slim, black figure waiting alone. “Well I’ll be. Is that his hearse parked out there?”

The front door banged open just then and two fishermen bundled inside. “Gonna get big weather today,” a bearded fisherman in a thick sweater said as he headed over to the coffee pot and poured dubious-looking sludge into a Styrofoam cup.

“What you looking at?” the other newcomer asked, nicknamed Babyface for the obvious reason.

“Fella wants to charter a boat out to the Isle.”

Babyface and his partner exchanged looks.

“Isle folk are awfully jealous about their waters,” the bearded man said.

“Ain’t no one fool enough to run him out there,” Babyface said.

“If another body repeats that phrase, I believe I will shoot him,” the dock boss said, spitting a wad that rocked the Folger’s can. The bearded fisherman glanced in the can and gave the dock boss a nod of respect before taking a sip of coffee.

“Jesus Christ, this is awful,” he said, frowning at his cup.

“Second pot,” Vic said, and the other man nodded. The dock boss was in the habit of using coffee grounds at least twice to save money.

“Say,” Vic said as Babyface held out a hand for the binoculars. “What’d he want out there?”

The dock boss shrugged. “Didn’t rightly say, but he showed me a badge. A Federal badge no less.”

“FBI, DEA?” the bearded man asked as he put on a new pot of coffee. The dock boss ignored him.

“So you get a man with a Federal badge, which means he’s carryin’ a Federal gun, and he shows up drivin’ a hearse. Ain’t too hard to jump to a certain conclusion,” the dock boss said, not entirely sure what that conclusion was but enjoying the expressions on the faces of the two younger men.

“If Old Jenny gets her teeth into him, this Federal man might be finding himself in the back of that hearse on the return trip, badge or no badge,” Vic said.

“Yep,” the dock boss said.

“Yep,” the bearded man said.

Babyface surrendered the binoculars and echoed the common wisdom. Hell, everybody knew to avoid that stretch of the Atlantic. Boats that didn’t had a habit of not returning to port.

“Yep.”

Link

“As a Guest at the Telekinetic Tea Party”—A Witch’s Poem by Stephanie M. Wytovich

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Mismatched outfits drenched in earl grey design,
the ladies stretch their legs,
their platform heels dusted with tea cakes
against a heralded cry for the haberdashery
as rogue buttons line the floor.

Move down! Move down!

They each float to new spots,
their honey-soaked spoons dripping nectar
on their plates,
such beehive gossip
against poison clouds and milk.

The clock strikes thirteen
inside strawberry hookah rings,
laughter and lullabies paint blueberry scones
on flying saucers,
their girlish whispers slathered in apricot jam,
sprinkled with pecans and preserves.

No room! No room!

They pin their hair back with shards of bone,
as soft curls frame their heart-shaped faces,
their fingernails tapping on both table and tea pot.

Uniformed in madness, they hold hands in sisterhood,
the women all a flutter on cushions stuffed
with soaked butterfly wings,
bodies rising, minds expanding,
their dresses swishing, dancing in the air.

Move down! No ROOM!

They crack their necks
remove their matcha-stained ribbons,
the scent of burning around them,
a boiling high-pitched hiss
amongst a table stained with tarot and tears.

They open their weeping eyes to blood,
sip the sacred tea as their heart beats slow,
each girl rising, never to stop,
forever a sleeping witch in the sky.

***

Image: Vintage divination teacup , ca.late 1800s (Pinterest).


9A1398FE-5A70-4D38-A8D1-81AF74A70C60Originally appeared in Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders, Edited by Doug Murano (Crystal Lake, 2017)

What Happened to George Washington’s Home During the US Civil War?

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Mount Vernon Today (MountVernon.org)


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Military pass signed by General Winfield Scott for Sarah Tracy of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The document enables her to pass “through the United States lines” to get to Mount Vernon during the Civil War; dated October 2, 1861.


The outbreak of the Civil War provided significant challenges to the preservation of George Wagington’s home at Mount Vernon, as the sectional crisis occurred during the infancy of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The violent nature of the conflict could have destroyed Mount Vernon as a physical structure while also tearing up the personal threads that bound the nascent Association. Despite the challenges, the Association was able to keep the property protected and open to the public during the war.

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An early image of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association—the group that singlehandedly saved the home of George Washington for posterity.


The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association took over operation of the estate in 1860 in an effort to stabilize and restore the mansion. As restoration efforts progressed, the political situation in the United States deteriorated. Mount Vernon, as a result, was in a precarious position. At the same time, Ann Pamela Cunningham was forced to return to her family home in South Carolina in the fall of 1860 to help run the family plantation following her father’s death.

Above: George and Martha Washington’s bed chambers at Mount Vernon.

With the conflict making travel difficult for Cunningham, the estate was managed by two staff members during the Civil War; a Northerner and a Southerner. Cunningham’s secretary, Sarah C. Tracy and Upton H. Herbert, Mount Vernon’s first Resident Superintendent, managed the estate through the war years. There were also free African-American employees working at the estate, including Emily the cook, Priscilla the chambermaid, Frances, a maid, and George, the coachman and general assistant.1

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Sarah Tracy, pictured above in an image taken in 1859, watched over the Mount Vernon estate during the six-year-long Civil War—her efforts ensured its safety as a piece of American history.


Cunningham believed that it was imperative that no military outposts were placed within the borders of the estate in order to physically protect the property. After a visit from Tracy, on July 31, 1861 General Winfield Scott issued Order Number 13, declaring the estate’s status as non-partisan. A large proportion of the visitors during the war were still soldiers, though without military aims. Soldiers who visited the estate were requested to be neither armed nor dressed in military uniform. Such actions ensured that Mount Vernon remained neutral, respected grounds.

Above, left: Mount Vernon’s 8’1” high cupola; above, right: the Washington’s dining room.

The end of the conflict had an immediate positive impact on the preservation of Mount Vernon. In November 1866 Cunningham was able to travel to meet with her Vice Regents and staff for the first time in six years. The Ladies’ Association passed a resolution reflecting a new post-war optimism, expressing their “unqualified approval of the manner in which the Superintendent and the Secretary had discharged the arduous duties committed to their charge. . .under difficult circumstances, the Mansion and grounds under their charge have been so well preserved and protected.”2 Despite the challenges, Mount Vernon remained safe and open throughout the war.

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The piazza at Mount Vernon faces the Potomac River.


Notes

1. “Mollie ______ to Caroline L. Rees, 21 October 186[1-4],” Kirby Rees Collection, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia; typescript, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

2. Quoted in Dorothy Troth Muir, Presence of a Lady: Mount Vernon, 1861-1868 (Mount Vernon, Virginia: Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, 1975), 86.

Source: https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/the-civil-war-years/

Read more, here:

https://www.mountvernon.org/preservation/mount-vernon-ladies-association/early-history-of-the-mount-vernon-ladies-association/#g-1160_m-everett2

https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/the-mansion/the-mansion-room-by-room/#-

https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/the-mansion/the-mansion-basement/

President Trump Just Called Himself a ‘Nationalist.’ Here’s What That Means—and Why It’s So Dangerous.

Nationalism is not patriotism. Just ask George Orwell.

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Normally, there’s a kind of catharsis in watching someone finally admit to themselves and the world who they truly are. Not here. It has never been much of a secret that Donald Trump, American president, is a nationalist. The debate is more often over what adjective might go in front. And yet it was singularly unnerving on Tuesday—in the context of a midterm election campaign in which he and his Republican allies are appealing to racism and anti-immigrant sentiment and fear in a strategy so explicit that The New York Times felt comfortable calling it out—to hear him declare, loudly and proudly, that he is “a nationalist, OK?”

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The juxtaposition here between “globalist” and “nationalist” is a Steve Bannon joint—a nice hat-tip to the guy on a day where he could be found playing a near-empty conference room on Staten Island. It’s the kind of binary nonsense that authoritarian types feed on, an us-or-them formulation where the United States can succeed, or the wider world can succeed, but you can’t have both. In the context of a globalized, entirely interconnected world—a development Trump is powerless to reverse—it is fantasy. But it gets the people going.

Now that the President of the United States has embraced it as his own, it’s worth digging into what the term “nationalist” actually means and the historical baggage it carries. For this, we can turn once again to George Orwell, the legendary British theorist who, more recently, has become a prop for diaper-wearing right-wing propagandists who looked him up on brainy quote dot com. The essential point, also made eloquently by Charles de Gaulle, is that not only are nationalism and patriotism not the same, the gap between them is not some difference of degree. They are often wholly contrasting emotional forces, as Orwell writes in his Notes on Nationalism:

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Blue World—A Collection of Horror Stories by Robert R. McCammon (TOC + Intro + Link)

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Table of Contents

Dear Readers (introduction to the preview of Mine) • essay by Robert R. McCammon
Mine (excerpt) • short fiction by Robert R. McCammon
ix • Introduction (Blue World and Other Stories) • (1989) • essay by Robert R. McCammon
1 • Yellowjacket Summer • (1986) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
25 • Makeup • (1981) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
49 • Doom City • (1987) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
65 • Nightcrawlers • (1984) • novelette by Robert R. McCammon
101 • Yellachile’s Cage • (1987) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
121 • I Scream Man! • (1984) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
131 • He’ll Come Knocking at Your Door • (1986) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
151 • Chico • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
163 • Night Calls the Green Falcon • (1988) • novelette by Robert R. McCammon
191 • Pin • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
215 • The Red House • (1985) • novelette by Robert R. McCammon
239 • Something Passed By • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
259 • Blue World • (1989) • novella by Robert R. McCammon

Introduction

Fast Cars, the sign said.

It was in front of a used-car lot in the neighborhood where I grew up. Fast Cars. My friends and I passed it every day on our way to school. Our bikes were the fast cars of our imagination, our Mustangs and Corvettes and Thunderbirds. We longed for four wheels, but we were confined to two and on them we hurtled into the future.

I’ve built my own fast cars. They’re in this book, and they’re eager for passengers.

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