Posts Tagged ‘anarchism’

Anarchist Sports

Posted in General, On This Day on September 6th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

September 6, 1901:  President McKinley Becomes a Trophy

If it weren’t for the inconvenience of being assassinated, William McKinley should have been flattered.  Anarchists did not kill just anyone.  Those homicidal nihilists may not have respected any government, but they certainly worshipped status.  They would never waste a bullet on a postmaster or an alderman: only the most prestigious targets would do.  And the United States apparently had acquired some glamour, no longer the detritus of Britain, a failed attempt at Australia.  No, America was a world power and its President worth shooting.  The Spanish-American War really had paid off!

On this day in 1901, President McKinley was shot.  He did not die until September 14th, when he succumbed to gangrene.  No doubt our modern medicine would have saved him, if his health insurance had permitted it.  (I’m sorry, Mrs. McKinley but we can’ t be sure if that hole in your husband’s stomach and pancreas was not a pre-existing condition.  You wouldn’t expect us to pay for an old Civil War wound, would you?

The assassin was Leon Czolgosz, whose very name was linguistic anarchy.  Although his two bullets did not topple the American government and return mankind to Eden, Czolgosz did elevate McKinley above Benjamin Harrison into a very distinguished company of corpses: presidents, prime ministers and kings.  Between 1894 and 1913, the anarchists acquired quite a collection of big game trophies and made royalty an endangered species.

The inadvertent trendsetter was President of France, Sadi Carnot; he encountered an anarchist with a knife.  That anarchist soon after encountered a guillotine.  In 1897, an anarchist with a pistol spared Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Canovas the embarrassment of losing the Spanish-American War.  The following year, while on vacation in Switzerland, Empress Elizabeth of Austria had the misfortune to bump into an anarchist with a shoemaker’s awl; initially Frau Hapsburg could not discern the stabbing from the usual pain of wearing a corset. 

Umberto I of Italy actually might have been the Anarchist’s first trophy.  An anarchist tried stabbing him in 1878; a gun in 1900 proved more effective.  The royal family of Portugal found itself in a shooting gallery in 1908:  King Carlos and Crown Prince Luis Filipe were killed, while Prince Manuel was wounded and suddenly king; he seemed rather amenable to the idea of abdication.  In 1912, Jose Canalejas learned how Spanish Prime Ministers often retire.  The following year George I of Greece, possibly the only ruler in his dynasty who did not deserve to be shot, was. 

Occasionally the anarchists did fail.  The reprehensible Leopold II of Belgium–exploiter extraordinaire and mass-murderer of the Congo–was a target in 1902.  Two bullets hit nothing and the third broke a window   The gunman was so abysmal, bystanders wondered if he was shooting blanks; however he was a veteran of the Italian army, so that might explain his marksmanship.  And one assassination would have set the standard for bad taste.  In 1906, an anarchist hurled a bomb at King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia on their wedding day.  Neither was hurt and they lived to be forced into abdication.   

Have you noticed an omission?  Where is Russia among the site of assassinations?  The anarchists really weren’t lurking there.  It wasn’t just the climate; it was also a matter of professional courtesy.  Most of the assassinations in Russia–and there were quite a few–were carried out by a radical group known as the Socialist Revolutionaries.  They never lacked for tyrannical targets–from Russian Grand Dukes to a rather dogmatic  fellow called Lenin (and they nearly killed him, leaving him a semi-invalid).  Given the Socialist Revolutionaries’ expertise and enthusiasm, the anarchists stayed out of their way.

And returning to our original topic and victim, you can see that William McKinley was in excellent company.  To Die For.