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England Expects Every Man To Be Politically Correct

by Roger Kimball

Posted: May 23, 2005 10:05 PM

Beyond parody dept., part 9875674:

Thanks to the splendid Pejmanesque for this . . . what? Hilarious? Preposterous? Scary? for this strangely depressing story from the Times of London that somehow sums up Life in the West at the beginning of the 21st century. Remember the Battle of Trafalgar? Lord Nelson, October 1805: �England expects every man to do his duty.� Daring maneuvers by the Brits: so much for the French fleet. Nelson struck down on the deck of the Victory: �Kiss me, Hardy,� etc. etc. Since the battle is coming up on its 200th anniversary, someone naturally had the idea of commemorating one of the greatest naval victories of all time. All the more so since it was a victory against a tyrant. Ah, but to commemorate a naval victory would be to commemorate a military victory. Military victories mean war don’t they? We’re against war. What’s more, the Battle of Trafalgar was won by the British and lost by the French (just like World War II, come to think of it), but we can’t have that can we? No, apparently we can’t. Here’s the Times:

Organisers of a re-enactment to mark the bicentenary of the battle next month have decided it should be between �a Red Fleet and a Blue Fleet� not British and French/Spanish forces.

Otherwise they fear visiting dignitaries, particularly the French, would be embarrassed at seeing their side routed.

Even the official literature has been toned down. It describes the re-enactment not as the battle of Trafalgar but simply as �an early 19th-century sea battle�.

And here’s the conclusion:

Also present will be the Argentine navy, which fought the British fleet in 1982 over the Falkland Islands.

And, tell me, who won that little contretemps?

To find out what really happened at Trafalgar instead of battening on the watered down PC gruel being prepared by the unnamed organizers of this travesty--could it actually be the Royal Navy? Has it come to that?--readers may wish to consult this account.

[Update] A friend writes in response to the above:

My god, what happened to the nation of Clive, of Napier, of Hawke and Nelson? This is really depressing. Blair won’t go to ceremonies honoring the tiny number of surviving pilots from the Battle of Britain and the Queen goes off to celebrate Red’s victory over Blue.

At 1 o’clock on the afternoon of the 21st of October, two-hundred years to the moment after Royal Sovereign fired its first broadside into Santa Ana, every bell in the land should be rung and every Briton stand to remember the thousands of British sailors who gave their lives fighting the French tyrant and the insidious revolution of Robespierre and Danton. That is what Nelson and his fellows deserve.

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In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.


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