It turns out that the young man who hung on the Union Jack flag in order to climb a cenotaph dedicated to the dead of WWI, a cenotaph that has inscribed on it in large letters “the glorious dead,” has apologized, claiming he knew not what he did.
First of all, any halfway civilized person knows that people will take umbrage if, during a violent protest, you use your nation’s flag as a rappelling rope. Second, as noted, the Cenotaph doesn’t hide its identity as a war memorial. It has written all over it encomiums to the “glorious dead.” Further, it’s not a minor little memorial. Instead, it’s quite famous Cenotaph, located at England’s political heart:
Probably the best-known cenotaph in the modern world is the one that stands in Whitehall, London at 51°30?09.6?N 0°07?34.1?W? / ?51.502667°N 0.126139°W? / 51.502667; -0.126139? (The Cenotaph, London). It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who conceived the idea from the name of a structure (“Cenotaph of Sigismunda”) in Gertrude Jekyll’s garden, and constructed from Portland stone between 1919 and 1920 by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts. It replaced Lutyens’s identical wood-and-plaster cenotaph erected in 1919 for the Allied Victory Parade commissioned by David Lloyd George, and is a Grade I listed building. It is undecorated save for a carved wreath on each end and the words “The Glorious Dead”, chosen by Rudyard Kipling. It commemorates specifically the victims of the First World War, but is used to commemorate all of the dead in all wars in which British servicemen have fought. The dates of WWI and WWII are inscribed on it in Roman numerals. The design was used in the construction of many other war memorials throughout the British Empire. The British Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is located nearby in Westminster Abbey.
The sides of the Cenotaph are not parallel, but if extended would meet at a point some 300 metres (980 ft) above the ground. Similarly, the “horizontal” surfaces are in fact sections of a sphere whose centre would be 900 feet (270 m) below ground.
It is flanked on each side by various flags of the United Kingdom which Lutyens had wanted to be carved in stone. Although Lutyens was overruled and cloth flags were used, his later Rochdale cenotaph has stone flags. In the years following 1919, the Cenotaph displayed a Union Flag, a White Ensign, and a Red Ensign on one side and a Union Flag, a White Ensign, and a Blue Ensign on the other side. On 1 April 1943, an RAF Ensign was substituted for the White Ensign on the west side of the monument. The flags displayed as of 2007 represent the Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Air Force, and the Merchant Navy.
It also turns out that it’s reasonable to assume that the young man at issue is familiar with both London landmarks and the Cenotaph’s fame. You see, he wasn’t just any old protester. Instead, the young man, Charlie Gilmour, is the son of Pink Floyd guitarist, Dave Gilmour. One has to assume a certain amount of sophistication — that is, a familiarity with London — from a young man raised in those august rock circles. Add to that the fact that Charlie was a history major and, well, the plea of ignorance pretty much falls apart.
But there’s more going on here than an unconvincing apology. This riot was about increased tuition. The same article that discusses Charlie’s manifestly insincere apology notes that his father is worth 80 million pounds. In other words, given both Charlie’s age, which puts him past his university years, and his family wealth, this wasn’t his fight. He was there, instead, to take part in a protest for protest’s sake.
His presence for the “fun” is no little thing. In timely and coincidental manner, today’s FrontPage Magazine has a review of a new book, Anna Geifman’s Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia. Her book notes the ideological tend line that began with the death cult of Russian anarchy and communism, traveled to Nazi Germany, and right now manifests itself with modern Islamism. By death cult, Geifman does not mean that these ideologies result in lots of deaths, although they do. Instead, Geifman writes about, and I’m focusing on, the fact that these ideologies are dedicated to death:
Geifman maintains dogma has nothing to do with terrorist violence in the two principal eras studied. Many Russian revolutionaries knew little about socialist theory, while Islamist terrorists are often ignorant of the Koran’s tenets. The causes the terrorists espouse are simply the means, and a camouflage, to sustain their anti-life religion of violence and to make the blood sacrifices their God of Death demands. Similar to the Russian revolutionary and Islamist movements were India’s Thugs who murdered thousands of unsuspecting travellers as human sacrifices to their death goddess, Kali. But unlike the Thugs, in carrying out the murderous rites of their pagan religion inside of a religion, the Marixst and Islamist terrorists often sacrifice themselves.
I acquit useful idiot Charlie Gilmour of being an informed acolyte of the confluence of two death cults, Islamism and anarchy. I don’t, however, see it as coincidence that he swung from a memorial raised to those who died defending Western civilization, a culture that has always been dedicated to choosing life. (And no, it’s not an oxymoron to speak of war dead in the same sentence as choosing life. It’s not merely the fight that matters, unless you’re a moral relativist. What matters is the cause for which one fights. A soldier who dies in the cause of freedom, as opposed to totalitarianism, is choosing life even as he willing accepts the possibility of death.)
Poor Charlie, who has manifestly fallen into Britain’s Leftist, anarchic circles (even if his dad didn’t raise him this way), has been steeped in the culture of death. For him to swing from his nation’s flag in order to scale a memorial raised to the dead was, consciously or not, a logical outcome of his upbringing and ideology.
Cross-posted at Bookworm Room