Showing posts with label revolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label revolution. Show all posts

Friday, January 18, 2019

Damn, Girl-Trieu Thi Trinh

Little is known about Trieu Thi Trinh, despite the fact that she lead an incredible life. At the age of 19 she led armies against the invading Chinese, and spent four years attempting to drive them out of Vietnam before commiting suicide after a defeat. Her birthplace is unclear, even her proper name is unknown (Trieu Thi Trinh translates to something along the lines of 'Lady Trieu'). Despite the mystery surrounding her, Trieu Thi Trinh, also known as Ba Trieu, has survived to become one of Vietnam's greatest heroines, and is still celebrated today.

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Traditional Vietnamese artwork depicting Ba Trieu
Ba Trieu was likely born sometime in 225 CE. At the time, Han China had been occupying Vietnam for about 200 years, and their hold on the region had only gotten stronger. It had been more than a century since the Trung Sisters had risen up, and the Han had successfully removed Vietnamese rulers and officials from every position of power in the country. Chinese domination was so widespread that they commonly referred to the area as 'Am Nam', which, translated, meant 'conquered south'.

When Ba Trieu was the sister of the powerful southern leader, Trieu Quoc Dat. He had taken care of Ba Trieu after their parents died, and he himself was involved in a certain amount of rebellion. Therefor, it was no surprise when, at 19, Ba Trieu decided to get into the sedition game herself, despite her brother's counsel that she get married instead of cause insurrection.

Ba Trieu gathered her army of 1,000, and headed up the nearest mountain to train. Though this whole story is surrounded in myth, here is where it becomes really tricky to separate fact from fiction. According to legend, Ba Trieu was nine feet tall, with three foot long breasts which she tied back over her shoulders when fighting. She was beautiful, and had a voice like ringing bells. In battle, she lead her armies from the top of an elephant, dressed with ivory shoes and golden hairpins. She struck fear into the hearts of her Chinese enemies, and she and her army won over 30 battles.

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Ba Trieu's temple, about 100 miles south of Hanoi.
Unfortunately, Ba Trieu's army was severely underfunded, and possessed no siege equipment. When they came to a Chinese fortress, they had to wait on the Chinese to come out and meet them. Ba Trieu also had an enormous weakness--she was very fastidious, and couldn't stand the sight of filth. One Chinese took advantage of this, and sent his army of men running out of the fortress naked, kicking up dirt and grime. Ba Trieu left the battlefield, and her army panicked, leading to a massive defeat. Rather than let her enemies capture her, Ba Trieu committed suicide by throwing herself into a river. She was only 23.

However, according to legend, Ba Trieu's harassment of the Chinese invaders did not end with her death. She haunted the Chinese general who defeated her, and spread an illness among the Chinese soldiers that could only be warded off by hanging wooden penises over the doorways of rooms one wished to occupy.

There are, unfortunately, very few actual specifics on Ba Trieu, and much of what that is known about her is shrouded in legend. However, there is some proof that Trieu Thi Trinh existed. Records of the Chinese governor over Vietnam at the time of Ba Trieu's life mention a short period of resistance, and contemporary artwork featuring a lady on an elephant leading an army has been found

Mythical or not, Ba Trieu has been a popular folk hero since the 200 CEs, and is the subject of several epic works still studied in Vietnamese schools. She was cited as the inspiration of many Vietnamese rebels after her, and has a temple dedicated to her, and many streets named after her, most notably in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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Sources
Modernity and My Mum: A Literary Exploration into the (Extra)Ordinary Sacrifices and Everyday Resistance of a Vietnamese Woman by Kim Huỳnh
Ba Trieu (225-248 CE)
Trieu Thi Trinh, the Vietnamese Joan of Arc
Vietnam Under Chinese Rule

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Annexation of Hawaii Was a Bit of a Dick Move

Hawaii, the 50th state, is a prime example of the US Imperialism that supposedly doesn't exist. Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii, was essentially overthrown by a group of US marines, and the state was annexed to the US to provide a ship fueling station, despite vehement protests from the majority of islanders.

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Iolani Palace, built by King Kalakaua as part of his revival
of Hawaiian nationalism.
Hawaii was doing its Hawaii thing in 1778 when Captain James Cook 'discovered' it. The islands were made up of a tribal culture, with many chieftains or 'kings'. They welcomed Cook with open arms, and, surprisingly enough, he didn't embark upon a spree of mass slaughter. In fact, there was no slaughter at all, excepting the slaughter that came from European microbes.

Microbes weren't the only thing that came to Hawaii from Europe. European ideals also became quite popular. Churches, land ownership, and a unified state followed not long after the Europeans. Unfortunately, American and European businessman came as well.

Fast forward a few decades, and sugar exportation is a key part of the Hawaiian economy. Hawaiian natives had been wary of the sugar trade from the start, hearing that it would lead to annexation. They weren't paranoid. White sugar exporters were worried about native resistance, and in 1887, the 'Bayonet Treaty' was forced upon King Kalakaua.

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Queen Lili'uokalani
The Bayonet Treaty is thus named because it was forced upon King Kalakaua at gunpoint. A group of white businessmen, backed by US marines, were growing concerned about the King's attempts to revitalize the culture and power of Native Hawaiians. Their official reason was that they were concerned by the king's spending. This treaty stripped Kalakaua of all executive power, and replaced his cabinet with white businessmen. It also disenfranchised Native voters, essentially leaving Hawaii under the control of the sugar exporters.

Kalakaua died in 1891, and his sister, Lili'uokalani became queen. Lili'uokalani made the white buisnessmen even more nervous than her brother, because she had every intention of reforming the 'constitution' forced on Hawaii by the haole, and restoring Hawaiian home rule. Worried about their wallets, the businessmen staged a bloodless coup in 1893 and formed a revolutionary government, stating that US annexation would be the best thing for Hawaiian economy.

John Stevens, the US ambassador to Hawaii, declared the islands to be a US protectorate. Of course, he hadn't consulted anyone in Washington about this. President Benjamin Harrison signed the treaty of annexation, but Grover Cleveland came into office before it could be passed by the Senate.

Grover Cleveland wasn't too pleased by the goings on in Hawaii. President Cleveland wasn't here for imperialism, and he rescinded the treaty, and put Stevens under investigation. He ordered a dissolution of the revolutionary government, and ordered that Lili'uokalani be restored to the throne immediately.

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Sanford Dole, President of the Republic of Hawaii
In a truly mature act Stevens and Sanford Dole, the president of the revolutionary government, stated that since the US refused to annex Hawaii, the US wasn't in charge of them, so they declared Hawaii a republic, and went on doing as they pleased.

Meanwhile, Native Hawaiians were petitioning the US government to do something, and Queen Lili'uokalani was placed under house arrest. This continued until 1897, when William McKinley became president of the United States. McKinley was less squeamish about imperialism than his predecessor, and he was also getting into the Spanish-American war. Add in a fear of a Japanese invasion, and the need for a pacific boat-fueling station, and McKinley signed the treaty. On July 7, 1898, Hawaii was formerly annexed to the United States.


There are very few instances where the US Government has betrayed the ideals upon which it was founded as grossly as it did in Hawaii. Not only did United States military forces carry out aggressive actions against a peaceful nation in hopes of conquest, but standard taxation was later imposed upon the islands, despite the lack of legislative representation. Anyone who has ever even looked at the history of the US knows that the original 13 colonies rebelled against the English for that very reason. Yet when the shoe was on the other foot, nobody cared.

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Sources
The Annexation of Hawaii-History of the House of Representatives
Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii
Annexation of Hawaii, 1898
The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii
Hawaii Government and Society
The Annexation of Hawaii-Digital History
Annexing Hawaii: The Real Story

Friday, August 25, 2017

Damn, Girl-Kathinka Zitz-Halein

Born November 4, 1801 Kathinka Zitz-Halein was an influential writer and political activist during the mid 1800's. Not only would she go one to publish over 30 books, but she also created the first women's political organization in Mainz Germany, but she also was instrumental in caring for the political refugees, political prisoners, and families of the aforementioned during the 1849 German uprising.

Image result for kathinka zitz-haleinKathinka was born to a middle class family, and received an excellent education. She was a talented writer, and had published her first series of poems by the age of 16. She had multiple teaching jobs, as well as a job as the headmistress of a school. However, when her mother died she left that to take care of her sister, Julie. It wasn't until Julie died that Kathinka started to get into politics.

It is unclear if Kathinka married Franz Zitz before or after her founding of the Humania Association. What is certain though, is that she was the founder and president of the leading women's political association in Mainz, and he was the president of the leading men's political association in Mainz. They were the Bill and Hillary Clinton of their era, right down to the rampant infidelity.

Unlike Secretary Clinton, Kathinka told Franz to hit the road. Though they remained married for the rest of their lives (Kathinka refused to grant him a divorce), they never lived together after the first 18 months of their marriage. Kathinka used support payments from Franz to support herself and her writing career. This steady income allowed her to further her political aspirations as well.

Before proceeding, it is important to mention that Kathinka was NOT a feminist. By her own admission, she didn't want men and women to be equal, merely for men and women to both be free to excel in their own respective spheres. She also believed that women were more than capable of helping the German revolution, and that they should be allowed to have political rights. This is what she said publicly anyways, here letters cast further doubt on her beliefs.

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Mainz, Germany
Kathinka was, essentially, That Girl. You know That Girl? That Girl who believes that men and women should be equal, believes in closing the wage gap, believes in ending rape culture, believes in a woman's right to choose, but says that she's not a feminist because she doesn't believe that women are better than men, and doesn't hate men? You know, That Girl who says she's not a feminist because she doesn't really understand what feminism is? Kathinka was the 1800s version of That Girl. Though she publicly spoke against gender equality, and said that women should not leave the domestic sphere, her actions said otherwise.

The mission of the Humania Association was to disperse aid to refugees, prisoners, political insurgents, and their families. Aside from managing the financial and internal governance of the organization, Kathinka also did a large amount of 'field work', that would sometimes lead her dangerously close to insurgent territory. On one particularly memorable occasion Kathinka was asked by the Democratic Association--the male version of the Humania Association (with a bit more fighting)--to smuggle a chest back to Mainz during her visit to Kahrlsrule. Kathinka didn't know the contents of the chest, but when the chest was confiscated by Hessian authorities, it turned out that the chest contained the membership records of Democratic Association, as well as the names and information of several covert operatives.

Image result for kathinka zitz-haleinAside from charitable giving behind enemy lines, Kathinka's main impact came from her writing. Not only did she write novels and poetry, but she also wrote political pamphlets under her various pseudonyms, some of which got her in trouble with the law. In 1848 she wrote a series of articles for a Mannheim newspaper calling the people of Mainz to arms against the Hessian government. Not only was this article suppressed by Hessian authorities (always a good sign), but it was very influential in the uprisings later that year.


Though she is not widely known or read today, Kathinka had an enormous impact on the people of her community. She fought not only for German unification, but also helped the families and soldiers who had been injured and impoverished because of their dedication to that fight. She was a clever and persuasive writer, and it is because of her writing that we know as much about German politics of that era as we do.

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Sources
German Women and the Revolution of 1848: Kathinka Zitz-Halein and the Humania Association by Stanley Zucker
Kathinka Zitz-Halein
Zitz-Halein, Kathinka


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Documentary Review- The Cuba Libre Story

So I'm not sure if I've mentioned this, but I'm American. This is relevant because you need to understand that in American schools Cuba is almost never talked about. Prior to this film I knew two things about Cuba, those being:
  1. Americans can't go there legally.
  2. Communism?
Now the first thing isn't true anymore (though I wouldn't wager on that lasting very long given the current political climate), and the second isn't really a big deal anymore. However, thanks to this film I now know at least seven things about Cuba. Netflix has officially taught me more than the American education system. (Good job Netflix!)
Image result for the cuba libre storyThe Cuba Libre Story is an eight part documentary series that covers the history of Cuba from the point of first contact to President Obama's meeting with Cuban leaders in 2016. (What a dude.) As you may have guessed from the title, this show portrays the history of the island through the eyes of its three revolutions.

While the film does talk about Cuba's fight for liberation from Spain and the American invasion interference that happened after, it spends the lion share of the time talking about Che Guevara and the Castro brothers, and to a lesser extent, the Castro's forerunner, Fulgencio Batista. Because of this it is amazingly in depth. I think the only medium that would give more nuanced and in-depth information would be a history book written specifically about the 1959 revolution, and it would have to be a lengthy book.

One of the things I really liked about this series is that it not only had interviews with historians, but it also had interviews with people who lived through and participated in the revolution. I know that 1959 wasn't all that long ago relatively speaking, but it's still wonderful to hear about history from the mouths of people who lived through it, and when you're used to reading dead words off a page hearing from an eyewitness is almost surreal. I also really enjoyed the footage from Soviet archives as well as Cuban sources of the Castro brothers and the revolution. 

I will admit, the series was a bit dense. It took me a while to get through. The episodes weren't all that long (about 43 minutes), but dear heavens, they felt so much longer. There was a lot of information presented, and it wasn't always presented in the most interesting way. The pacing tended to get a little slow in the middle, but the episodes always ended at a point where you were dying to know what happened next.

Overall, I think it's a good show to watch, especially if you're American. This show does a really good job of showing how America has impacted Cuban politics, and of showing the many struggles that this island has gone through for independence.

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