by Kim Pederson…….
In 1853, an American named William Walker took forty-five men to Mexico, “conquered” the city of La Paz on the Baja Peninsula, declared his conquest to be the Republic of Lower California, made himself president, and instilled the laws of Louisiana, where slavery was still legal. The Mexicans said “Don’t think so” and eventually kicked Walker back to the United States. He was tried there for violating the Neutrality Act of 1794 and acquitted in eight minutes.
About a year later, Walker was hired as a mercenary by the Democratic Party of Nicaragua, took sixty men there, fought battles, and eventually took over the country for himself, first ruling through a puppet president and then making himself leader after a fraudulent election. The Central Americans also eventually got their act together and ousted Walker, who was executed by a Honduran firing squad in 1860.
So why mention Walker now? Because he was a filibuster, that is, in a very oddly specific definition from Merriam-Webster, he was “an American who in the mid-19th century took part in fomenting revolutions and insurrections in a Latin-American country.” More generally, a filibuster is “an irregular military adventurer; specifically: an organizer or member of a hostile expedition to a country with which his own is at peace.”
The term “filibuster” comes from the Spanish word for freebooter, which is someone who “goes about plundering without the authority of national warfare.” In short, a pirate, the “booter” part stemming from “booty.” In that sense, Sir Francis Drake was a freebooter/filibuster. So was Edward Teach, the infamous Blackbeard.
Much has been made in the past week over President-elect Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. In fact, in a classic case of tardis barndooris (closing the barn door after…etc.), CNN has announced the establishment of its Conflict of Interest Watch. Now we get to hear about all the additional reasons for which Filibuster/Freebooter-elect Trump should not have been elected or allowed to run roughshod over the Republican competition.
But this is crying over spilled milk, isn’t it? Enough of this. Instead, here is something proactive we can do to allay the worst of the coming damage. Find one or two choice YouTube examples of Fidel Castro’s eight-hour-plus harangues and send the links to all senators (yes, even Republicans–some of whom may be dragged kicking and screaming to their senses in spite of themselves rather than stoically playing their version of the durgis Titanicus as the ship of state breaks in half and heads for the bottom). Have them study the Castro film and prepare for long days and longer nights of that other filibuster, not the person but the tried and true “use of extreme dilatory tactics (as speaking merely to consume time) by an individual or group in an attempt to delay or prevent action by the majority in a legislative or deliberative assembly.”
And finally, Blackbeard the pirate ended up with his severed head hanging from a yardarm. If he’s not careful to rein in his penchant for plundering, our present filibuster-elect may find himself coming to a similar end (figuratively of course). Should that happen, it would be yo ho ho and a bottle of rum indeed. Yo ho ho to celebrate being free of Donald Trump and the bottle of rum (or two or three) to cope with the Mike Pence administration that would come after him.
*Photograph of William Walker (filibuster). Public Domain.
Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings.