Saturday 11 March 2023

Death wish

Here is a short clip of an American TV programme (broadcast yesterday, I think) in which Jane Fonda says that politicians who want to restrict or ban abortion need to be "murdered". Clearly she means it.

I wonder how many people said someone should kill Donald Trump? The BBC's beloved Sir David Attenborough did, but so did many other famous people and so did over 12,000 tweets in the 12 days after his inauguration

Novelist William Trevor's obituary said he never commented on politics except once, in a private conversation, when he remarked that somebody needed to kill Ian Paisley.

Innumerable people have called for the murder of Vladimir Putin. 

Did people want to murder Napoleon, Paul Kruger or the Kaiser when England was at war with them? (Note: only the Ukraine is at war with Russia at present.)

The USA tried to drop bombs on Muammar Gaddafi in 1986, Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 and Saddam Hussein in 2003. 

The US government sent a scientist to kill Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, with a virus, and had other plans to kill him, but it wasn't necessary because he was ousted in a coup and replaced by Mobutu. I don't know what role the US played in that coup.

Compare Eisenhower's behaviour in the Congo to his behaviour to Great Britain over Suez in 1956. The young Enoch Powell had been right when he told Eden that the Americans were Britain's enemies.

Other leaders the Americans tried or intended to assassinate in the 1960s include Fidel Castro, the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, President Sukarno of Indonesia and President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam.

US forces murdered Osama bin Laden, who could have been brought to trial.

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, says the Americans tried to murder him.

A full list of American assassination plots is here, thanks to Karl White.

In 1973, the CIA helped organise the coup against Chile’s president, Salvador Allende, in which he died. The coup proved to be the salvation of Chile but we should not do evil that good may come of it. 

Are revolutions always evil? 

The Catholic Church used to say so but now thinks very occasionally they are justified.

Britain's record seems very much cleaner but Eden wanted to have Nasser murdered in 1956 and the next year it is alleged that M16 and the CIA devised a plan to kill three leading Syrians.

The penny catechism that had been in use by English Catholics since the times of persecution in the 18th century was replaced in the 1980s by a strange document written by a priest whose name I forget, who reportedly said (though it is not included in the catechism) that it was the duty of every good Catholic to kill the Pope.


  1. Would be interesting (for us non-Catholics) to hear in what way the catechism has changed.

    1. The Catechism of Pope St John Paul II is long and of course orthodox, but the penny catechism reflected the Catholicism of before the Second Vatican Council. It is still valid, is short and pithy. The greatest living Englishman, Edward Norman, before he became a Catholic said Catholic teaching changed very little between 1603 and 1960 but did change. I wonder what he meant.

    2. The 1980s catechism, now forgotten, was bizarre. I had it to hand but can't find it.

  2. Napoleon avoided being blown up once: his coachman was drunk and drove much too fast, meaning that he was past the bomb when it went off. Felix Markham, in Napoleon, considers British complicity in plots against Napoleon's life to be proven. Tsar Paul I's death was much to the advantage of the United Kingdom, though I gather that the ambassador's complicity was never established.

    Closer to (my) home, I have heard that during the Revolutionary War. a cook tried to poison George Washington. He did not succeed, for contrary to an old popular belief tomatoes are not poisonous.

    1. Washington was a traitor, of course. Still he should have been tried and hanged, and would have been had he lost, not poisoned.

    2. I admire the "of course". "Queen Anne|Henry Tudor was a traitor, of course, [etc.]"

    3. Washington is fairly recent. I don't forgive him.

  3. The late Father Herbert McCabe wrote the strange catechism. He called himself a Christian Marxist, apparently, but his obituary doubted that he understood Marxism.

  4. My old university friend Melanie McDonagh says Herbert McCabe was a saint and makes him sound very attractive.