Remember to Forget: An Open Letter to Guy Fawkes and His Minions

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I can name several reasons this mar on the seasons
Needs soon to be forgot.

The intent original behind this day most jovial
Was to celebrate a plot gone wrong.
Four hundred years by, and I oft wonder why
We’ve repurposed the use of this song.

For those not in the know, four centuries ago,
A group of Catholic Englishmen
Came up with a scheme to accomplish their dream
Of making Old England their den.

They gathered in secrecy, led by Robert Catesby,
To plan the demise of King James.
With gunpowder spent, up in flames Parliament
Would go ‘fore crashing into the Thames.

The only reason this gunpowder treason
Was not so successfully wrought
Is because of their spy, surname Fawkes, known as Guy:
He was the one who got caught.

Hanging out underground is where he was found,
Sitting pretty ‘neath the House of Lords.
He was tried right away. Ruined was his day,
For he’d been guarding the powder hordes.

While Guy met the knife, James escaped with his life,
His townspeople relieved, thrilled, and bright.
They lit flames in the street to celebrate the heat
Of the joy that would be Bonfire Night.

Why then, these years later, do we remember the traitor
Who brought England near to its knees?
Why, it has to do with a work or two:
A book and a film full of V’s.

V for Vendetta, a graphic bookletta
Written by one Alan Moore
Tells of a man in a mask with an ultimate task:
To attempt Guy Fawkes’s scheme once more.

This man is not a saint: London he does paint
In violence, blood coloring streets like rust.
Yet all the while, he carries his plastic smile,
Assuring us his intentions are just.

I’m writing this letter because I know better
Than to think this character is good.
But that he’s now a idol, this maniac homicidal,
Is a sham, is a farce, makes me brood.

His mask now synonymous with groups like Anonymous,
People who fight for free speech.
Sit down, girls and boys, and put away your toys:
A lesson I must now teach.

In 1605, when this man was still alive,
Followed Mr. Robert Catesby,
And I’ll tell you right quick: his intentions were sick.
The last thing they wanted was speech free.

Why, friends, do you think, he wanted the King to sink
Deep into the Earth for all time?
Because Catholics, you see, were persecuted freely,
And Catesby wanted justice sublime.

He didn’t want equals where once were unequals.
He wanted revenge, good and free.
When his crew took reign, he’d treat Protestants the same:
Like the dogs he believed they could be.

Guy and Catesby wouldn’t hear a single plea
To spare any Protestant lives.
They’d torture the men while kids cried in the den,
And when done, they would strangle the wives.

So, Bonfire Night is a good thing, right?
It celebrates an evil plot foiled.
Well, you’d think so; the aftermath, though
May leave your reasoning spoiled.

The foiling of this plan opened another can
Of worms for those of Londontown.
They became even worse in their already perverse
Treatment of Catholics around.

They were all thought schemers, Bogeymen to these dreamers,
The Pope their villainous king.
The Puritans preached the Holy See be impeached.
Through the streets violence did ring.

Let me be frank: the whole goddamn thing stank.
It reeked of intolerance and hate.
Does that sound right to you? So, then, what should we do?
To both sides, I posit this fate:

To those who would praise Guy Fawkes these days,
I beseech thee, pick up a book.
Do your research on this, and when you finish,
I’ll await your horrified look.

The man is a terrorist who sought through a fist
Of explosives the right to rule.
Do we celebrate terror, or have we been in error
For awarding such praise to this fool?

He deserves no reward. He should be abhorred,
His name discarded, left to besmirch.
A symbol of free speech he is not. Please, impeach
This icon from his lofty perch.

As for you, Bonfirees, your fireworks above the trees:
Your festival is founded on hate.
If any atrocity were to occur this century,
Would we build a monument at our gates?

Should any holiday carry such weight of dismay?
Should tradition carry out of bigotry?
I ask you all, please, leave this day in past centuries.
This is my humble plea.

Remember, remember: the Fifth of November
Is not the occasion you may have thought.
I bid you on your way with the hopes that this day
Will soon be forgot.