Remember, Remember…

…the fifth of November has nothing to do with either Alan Moore or Anonymous. As this clever article on Cracked makes it clear: the original Guy Fawkes upon whom the mask is based was a sort of religious nationalist whose aim was just about precisely the opposite of the eponymous V in Moore’s comic book (sorry, graphic novel). Says Cracked, “Fawkes wasn’t trying to destroy an evil theocracy, he was trying to install one.”

What’s the lesson here? Symbols are infinitely malleable? Probably. The same Cracked article I referenced above mocks Satanists and metalheads for using inverted crosses as anti-Christian symbols since they were originally a symbol of St. Peter. At one time the cross itself was of course a symbol of death and nothing more, an absurd symbol for a religion talking about hope and resurrection. So the meditation for Guy Fawkes Day: let’s not get too hung up on what symbols people use, the history of any symbol is bound to be bizarre, and that all symbols require a proper context. Let’s be honest, whoever Guy Fawkes is, having a mask with a 17th Century goatee on it is now shorthand for internet anarchists and opposing Scientology.

In the meantime, if we want a more legitimate (though still not unproblematic) English Catholic hero for liberty, there’s always Thomas More: