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January 21, 2004

The past isn’t dead; it’s not even past. I knew that Ulster Protestant demagogue Ian Paisley was a member of the European Parliament. I had even noticed the recent reports that he intends, at age 77, to stand down.

I somehow missed knowing that, when the Pope addressed the European Parliament in 1988, the Rev. Paisley greeted him with a banner reading “JOHN PAUL II ANTICHRIST” and proceeded to provoke an imbroglio in which Margaret Thatcher was knocked to the ground and Paisley himself was brought to heel only by being frog-marched out of the room by Otto von Hapsburg, pretender to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire.

The things you learn in blogs. Now if we had a real news media interested in telling colorful stories, would I have missed hearing this? I ask you. (Via A Fistful of Euros.) [11:11 PM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on The past isn't dead; it's not even past.:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2004, 11:13 PM:

When I think of all the times I've foolishly put my life in hazard, and reflect that any one of them could have kept me from hearing that story, I am chastened.

Nancy C. Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2004, 11:39 PM:

When read this posting, Elric's response was, "The visuals boggle." Agreed.

Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 12:22 AM:

When Anthony Wells says something is "one of the most bizarre incidents I can recall in British politics," that's *saying* something.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 12:58 AM:

I am truly gobsmacked and profoundly tickled. (My forehead still stings from the slap.)

I thought that a Habsburg beiing there was a bit strange but after some checking it seems that such action would come quite naturally to him. Sounds like someone worth meeting (as if I will ever have the chance).

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 01:26 AM:

The Hapsburgs finally justified their existence.

Nigel Quinlan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 05:26 AM:

God, I remember that. Being a young Irishman I didn't know who to shout for. Imagine Cromwell fighting Torquemada and you get the historical and cultural resonance (for me, anyway.) Nowadays I just feel sorry for Paisley's constituents, not to mention everyone else in NI. They just never seemed to get a break, and with clowns like that representing one side and some of the best bloody terrorists in the world on the other, it's a friggin' miracle we ever got a peace process.

chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 05:51 AM:

Nigel: they're not forced to be his constituents. They could always vote for somebody else.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 06:07 AM:

chris, that's what many of us say about Americans and Bush... ;-)

Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 07:19 AM:

Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

Nigel Quinlan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 07:22 AM:


That's true of course. But then again...

I've been watching this conflict from the sidelines for my entire life, and like many of my generation I've developed a certain cynical detatchment about it. Every now and then, though, I'm brought up short by the stark reality of how isolated the Unionists must feel. Witness the relatively recent Holy Cross debacle: Catholic schoolgirls heckled by an angry mob as they made their way to school. Who the hell thinks that that's a form of protest that'll ever get them anywhere? It's a siege mentality. They seem to think the country is bristling with IRA gunmen who wany to throw Protestant children to wild packs of paedophile priests. (Well, that's what it seems like south of the border, sometimes.)

But who can bame them? They've been at the receiving end of one of the most successful sustained terrorist campaigns the world has ever seen, and they still seem to come off as the bad guys thanks to effective nationalist leaders like McGuinness and Adams, who are very canny politicians, as well as their own poor judgement in choosing leaders and in their trenchant actions and attitudes. (Is marching season nearly upon us again? Oh, Christ, thank God, not for a few months yet.)

They flock to Paisley, who not only loudly condemns all the right people, but who also administers to their souls and works for them on the ground. Even his worst enemy will admit that Paisley works like a demon for his constituents. On a national level, though, the man's an embarrassment, and if he refuses to reach some sort of accommodation with the agreement parties, he could be bloody dangerous.

In a straight out fight, though, he'd kick papal ass.

Iain Rowan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 08:47 AM:

The first blog quoted is wrong to suggest that Paisley and his party aim only to be anti-Catholic: they also fight the good fight against the sinful evil that is line dancing.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 09:00 AM:

I have no sympathy for a monster like Ian Paisley, or for his supporters, but I certainly feel for the predicament of the Ulster Protestants. The great fanzine writer Walt Willis, an Ulster Orangeman who knew Paisley socially despite being opposed his politics (Northern Ireland is a small place), once remarked that he had grown up in the 1930s and 1940s feeling that he was "Irish", but that he later came to feel that the culture of "Irishness" was a gift that had been stolen from him, as the IRA and Sinn Fein gradually succeeded in convincing more and more Americans that they were crusaders for authentic Irishness, and that people like Walter (whose ancestors have been in Ireland longer than most Americans' ancestors have been in America) are somehow invading aliens.

Walter spent his working life drafting legislation for Stormont, and his political life supporting peace initiatives such as the Alliance Party. When we visited him in 1985 he and his wife Madeleine were still, in their late sixties, leaving their home in relatively safe Donaghadee to leaflet dodgy Belfast neighborhoods. Walter died in 1999. For some reason he's been on my mind more than once over the past week, possibly as an image of someone who managed to remain humane, decent, and funny through decades of political disaster and hopelessness.

Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 09:07 AM:

If Walter died in 1999, he lived to see the Good Friday Agreement of Easter 1998, the likes of which many of us did not believe we ever would, so it was not all disaster and hopelessness.

Nigel Quinlan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 09:52 AM:

Which reminds me of James White, who was from the North and wrote science fiction. He used to tell us that whenever a journalist asked him if he believed in little green men, he'd reply that yes he did, and in little orange men, too.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 09:53 AM:

Reading what you said above about Walt Willis's Irish identify being stolen reminds me of Orson Scott Card's novella "America" (collected in _Folk of the Fringe_) where the Native Americans call the immigrant Americans "Europeans" with such success that they get most of them to go away.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 10:51 AM:

Paisley is genuine fundamentalist, which means he's obsessive about his brand of sacred history. When I interviewed him once, he wanted to know which of several Baptist preachers named Brown in Victorian London had been ancestors of mine. He had read their books, and knew where they preached. As it happens, one of my Victorian great grandparents was a Protestant priest in Liverpool -- and thus presumably of Paisleyite views. His son in law, my grandfather Alfred Brown, took a part in the great Ulster gun-running; so he would have been a Paisleyite too. I did not mention these connections. Towards the end of the story, I made a small, quite futile effort to persuade him of the truth of Darwinism.

He got his 'doctorate' by correspondence, from Bob Jones university when he was in jail in the Sixties. I imagine -- perhaps this is a libel on Texas -- that he would be quite at home in Texan politics.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 11:00 AM:

"Which reminds me of James White..."

For good reason. Walter (a Protestant) and James (a Catholic) were lifelong friends; in the early 1950s, they co-edited the elegant hand-typeset fanzine Slant. After the outbreak of the modern troubles, they were unable to visit one another for several years because they couldn't get past the roadblocks in their respective Belfast neighborhoods.

chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 12:34 PM:


"On a national level, though, the manís an embarrassment, and if he refuses to reach some sort of accommodation with the agreement parties, he could be bloody dangerous."

Yeah. I agree with everything else you say as well, but this is the kicker. Isn't there anyone else in all of Antrim who would work hard for their constituents?

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 01:07 PM:

Paisley vs. Pope; has a ring to it, no? I'm betting it'll appear on Celebrity Death Match before long.

I'm glad Paisley made a fool of himself, but I don't have anything good to say about the Pope either. The participation of an actual, bona fide HAPSBURG puts this into the realm of the surreal.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 01:16 PM:

And knocking down Margaret Thatcher won't win my displeasure either...

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Hmm, I should not have found Otto of Habsburg so strange, considering that Sir Guy Johnson, the 8th Baronet of New York is alive and living in London. (The presumptive 9th baronet just turned 10 last month. His father, the 7th Baronet seems to have been quite the yachtsman.) As the old family place appears to be a bit upstate, I don't think that Patrick and Teresa need to worry about feudal tithes . . .

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 01:55 PM:

The episode that PNH describes sounds to me like nothing so much like a verse from an early Bob Dylan song. You know, the kind where in the next verse Albert Einstein is disguised as Robin Hood.

Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 02:10 PM:

Y'know, I really miss James White, and I never even got the chance to meet him.

I still have hopes that one of the effects of continued European integration will be the eventual irrelevance of which, if any, country Northern Ireland is legally a part of.

I say this as someone who is married to a dual British-Irish citizen, lives near Boston (the only city outside the island of Ireland in which I've seen IRA mural art), and whose sympathies definitely lie on the side of the group of people who just want to live their lives in peace without bothering--or being bothered--by folks who want to keep taking sides, often violently.

Nigel Quinlan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 04:35 PM:

Chris: I wish I knew, but my knowledge of the alternatives on the ground are scant.

Xopher: to you and me he was making a fool of himself. To his supporters he was a hero, standing up to the antichrist. And his line-dancing Hapsburg minions.

Christopher: James White was a great friend of the Dublin science fiction convention, Ocotcon. My wife and I used to meet and chat with him every year. He was a big, gentle man with a lovely smile and a voice you could listen to for hours. It hasn't been the same without him.

Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 05:05 PM:
Hmm, I should not have found Otto of Habsburg so strange, considering that Sir Guy Johnson, the 8th Baronet of New York is alive and living in London.

There's all sorts of people like that kicking around, I believe. I think Henri d'Orleans, Count of Paris and Pretender to the Throne of France is still with us, for example (granted it'd be cooler if he were a Bourbon, but you can't have everything), there's at least one Bonaparte prince (Pretender to the French Imperium, I guess), etc.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 05:36 PM:

And I am, of course, Marie of Rumania.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 06:19 PM:

I know that poem! And I have my own private version of it too. Ghu bless Dorothy Parker.


Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 06:24 PM:

"May I introduce Jim "Thules" Moriarty, Pretender to the throne of France."

"He doesn't look like a King."

"That's because he's only pretending."

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 06:35 PM:

Nigel, oh, yeah, I know that. There is no degree of whacko-goombahness that will keep you from having followers, as long as you preach hate. That's why the rest of us should make fun of him as much as possible. Maybe a song to the tune of "Bringing in the Sheaves" with the chorus:

Screaming at the Pope
Screaming at the Pope
There goes that crazy asshole
Screaming at the Pope!

or something like that.

On a completely unrelated note, did you notice that all the people you addressed in your last comment were Chris(something)s? I don't know "chris," but the other two of us are both Christophers.

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 07:16 PM:

Weird anti-papal politics? By chance, I ran into some today. This is in my Friendster-style History investigation -- start with someone you know, and (6 dgerees of Kevin Bacon) work your way out...

So, I've continued to research the history of my teachers' teachers' teachers. As you can see on my page of working notes made diagrammatic:


I found (today) an intriguing (literally) couple of links in between Vesalius and Descrates, namely:

"...Arnaud du Ferrier [circa 1508-1585] was a
remarkable man, a lawyer, a diplomat, an Ambassador to
Venice, President of the Parlement of Paris -- and a
master spy! Although his formal education was at the
University of Tolouse, and was a friend of Michel de
Montaigne [1533-1592] who was the master of (and
named) the 'Essay' format of writing, the great
influence on Arnaud du Ferrier was undoubtedly Paolo
Sarpi. As Scarpi's main French agent, Arnaud du
Ferrier became Ambassador to the Council of Trent,
from which his notes helped Sarpi write a monumental
series of volumes on the inner workings of the
Catholic Church. Sarpi's friend, fellow monk, and
biographer wrote that Sarpi and du Ferrier were
'intrinsichissimo' -- extremely friendly."

"Paolo Sarpi [1552-1623] was a Servite Monk (known as
Fra' Paolo), a cleric, a patron of Frances Bacon, a
theologian, and a scientist. But he was, more
covertly, one of the greatest Spymasters the world has
ever seen. Running covert operations for Venice, he
was at war with Europe and the Pope. He was in deep
contact with Isaac Newton and the Stuart court at
London. He was the behind-the-scenes public relations
genius who sponsored and made Galileo world famous, as
part of an agenda to launch an empiricist
counterattack against the Platonic methods of Johannes
Kepler. His writings and covert contacts directly
influenced Frances Bacon and Thomas Hobbs. He brought
the telescope to Italy. And, through his vast
network of agents, especially in Prague, Heidelberg,
and Vienna, deliberately organized the Thirty Years
War, which killed half the population of Germany and
one-third the population of Europe. Paolo Sarpi
graduated in 1565 from the University of Padua, where
he fell under the scientific influence of Girolamo

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 09:23 PM:

I liked Avram's comment from the thread that Claude just linked to:

"Me, I’ve transcended left-right and am mapping political views on an ana-kata axis, ‘cause it’s so much more stfnal that way."

I vaguely remember from Organic Chemistry...

up, back, anew, again (anabolism, anaphase)

cata: down (catabolism, catalyst) Also spelled kata

I think there were Geneva Convention terms for bi-substituted anthracene, something like:

ortho, meta, para, ana, epi, kata, peri, amphi, pros...

But not many Royalty in the field. Maybe the previous emperor of Japan being an amateur marine biologist, or a Rothschild in organic hemistry. Prince Charles may hug trees, but I don't thinks he checks their DNA.

If you go far enough back in almost anyone's geneology, you get to royalty. Because (cue Mel Brooks' "History of the World, Part I") -- "It's GOOD to be the King!"

Lots of organic chemicals in King Coal, I suppose. But isn't President Bush an agent for King Oil?

chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 03:11 AM:

What I love about this blog is that you can find Ian Paisley and Dorothy Parker on the same thread (not to mention the Count of Paris).

I once worked in a bookshop where we got orders from a man calling himself Michael Palaeologus, who used the double headed eagle of Byzantium on his letter head. I've no idea if he was legit.

Nigel Quinlan ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 05:12 AM:

Xopher: Yeah, and in a thread talking about the antichris, too.

I'll get me coat.

Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 05:13 AM:

I was watching a cool documentary on BBC last night called Motherland in which the makers funded DNA tests for a couple of hundred British black people to try and find out where in Africa their ancestors might have originated (via the Caribbean and originally the slave trade).

One man in four had a Y chromosome which traced back to Europe, not Africa, which the reserarchers put down to that "good to be the king" power factor.

One case was very striking: a test of Mitochondrial DNA for a woman named Beaula gave eight matches from the database of tens of thousands of samples used.

All eight were from the island of Boiko in Equatorial Guinea. Further DNA tests on the island turned up two women of the Bubi tribe with the exact same mDNA, women who shared a recent matrilineal ancestor with Beaula.

She visited them, and they welcomed her to the tribe. It was very cool.

janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 08:09 AM:

And then there's the heir to the Scottish throne who works in Edinburgh in a kilt shop on Princes Street.

I have this arcane knowledge thanks to Nancy and Elric who have met him and, I believe, danced a reel with him. I may be making this last up.


John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 11:06 AM:

I remember that 1988 incident. What struck me at the time was the slightly wry smile of...satisfaction on JPII's face as they carted Paisley out the door.

Richard ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 10:32 AM:

Well, to be very very pedantic, not even Otto Hapsburg would claim to be the Holy Roman Emperor, after Francis II (latterly Francis I of the Austrian empire) declared it abolished in 1806, and declared himself Emperor of Austria. These distinctions matter, y'know... ;-)

Greg ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2004, 10:03 PM:

Ah, yes, The Pope versus the Puritan, and a descendant of the Holy Roman Emperor as referee. Marvellous stuff, and one of the weirdest footnotes in modern European history.

The Seventeenth Century is clearly alive and well in County Antrim.

As for the amazement that a Hapsburg should be playing a role in European politics even now, maybe we shouldn't be so surprised. This sort of thing happens surprisingly often; Gebhardt von Moltke, Germany's top man in NATO, is a descendant of Bismarck's Field Marshall, of the rather less talented successor to Schlieffen in the German High Command, and of a count who opposed the Nazis and was executed for doing so. Blue blood there, I feel.

Julia Jones finds spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2004, 11:52 AM:

oh look, yet another spam