12.26.2016 Day in History

CC BY-NC-ND by K (heart) Studio
CC BY-NC-ND by K (heart) Studio

As a result of interest in African culture and roots, primarily in the United States, celebrants mark this date as the beginning of Kwanzaa festivities, which carry on through the new year; in the final phases of the Reconquista, under the aegis of Ferdinand and Isabella, five hundred twenty-seven years ago, Spanish forces won control of the Almeria from the Nasrid ruler of Granada, Muhammad XIII; a single year beyond twelve decades afterward, in 1610 more or less, royal Hungarian investigators first visited Countess Elizabeth Bathory with the intention of ending her murder and torture of local peasants and servants, a reining in of aristocratic sadism that in essence showed the brutality of this class-based system of rule; another hundred eighty years onward, in 1790, the besieged Louis XVI of France, another royal personage in dire straits, acceded to popular demand for the Civil Constitution of the Clergy; three hundred sixty-five days onward in space and time, in 1791, across the English Channel, the male infant bounced into our midst en route to a life as the mathematician and early theorist of computing, Charles Babbage;

CC BY-SA by Science Museum London

two decades subsequently, in 1811, to the West over the Atlantic, a theater fire in Richmond, Virginia killed both the young State’s governor and the president of the First National Bank of Virginia; fourteen years precisely after that, in 1825, roughly five thousand miles to the North and East in Czarist Russia, ‘liberal’ rebels rose up against Royal rule in the Decembrist revolt that the first Nicholas ruthlessly crushed; twenty-one years past that disastrous passage, in 1846, a smaller scale but perhaps more grotesque incident of human barbarism unfolded as the hapless Donner Party, snowbound in the Sierras and out of food, began to cannibalize their deceased members; a decade and a half later, in 1861, the United States released Confederate diplomatic envoys to England and averted a crisis that could conceivably have resulted in the United Kingdom’s intervention in this Civil War on the side of the slaveocracy; the very next year, in 1862, four Catholic nuns became the first combat nurses in US history aboard a Navy ship in the Gulf region, and, further West in Minnesota, Native American resistance to US depredation and conquest met with vicious countermeasures on the part of Washington, with the mass hanging of thirty-eight Sioux; seven years hence, in 1869, the Knights of Labour came into existence with protocols that prohibited ‘parasitical’ members such as stockbrokers and lawyers; seven hundred thirty days forward in time, in 1871, the nascent sublime collaboration between W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan took shape with a now ‘lost’ opera that made money but did not cause them to cement a partnership until several years later; one more cycle around the sun, in 1872, the little baby boy opened his eyes who would rise as thinker, writer, and Nobel laureate Norman Angell; another half decade on the road to now, in 1877, the small but in some ways influential Workingmen’s Party reorganized and renamed itself the Socialist Labor Party; fourteen years thereafter, in 1891, the male infant began to breathe who would develop his creative capacities as both an artist and a writer named Henry Miller whose salacious and insightful thinking both horrified and delighted millions; a pair of years past that initial outcry, in 1893, a Chinese baby boy was born who would mature as the transformative revolutionary leader Mad Zedong; one year exactly further along, in 1894, back in the United States, another boy child called out en route to a creative and literary life as Jean Toomer; a thousand four hundred and sixty-one days yet later on, in 1898, the scientific and marital team of Marie and Pierre Curie announced the isolation of radium and the further rationalization of the Modern Nuclear Project; one complete decade past that union of discovery and inaugural modernity, in 1908, the brilliant heavyweight fighter Jack Johnson first knocked out a White opponent, a Canadian whom he was fighting in Sydney, Australia, launching another case of modernist ideation, a one-man deconstruction of White Supremacy in the process; eighty-five years back, the inaugural creator of a longstanding library cataloguing system, Melville Dewey, created his last entry; eight years even closer to the current context, in 1939, the male infant came along in standard fashion who would mature as the producer, songwriter, and musical trendsetter Phil Spector; seven additional years en route to this exact instant, in 1946, workers and managers opened Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, an inauguration of legal gangster racketeering inside the Continental U.S.; two years further down the pike, in 1948, Hungary made clear the limits of its toleration of Catholic activism in charging a prist, József Mindszenty , with treason; a decade and a half henceforth, in 1963, the renowned rock group The Beatles released its first two massive single hits in the United States, thereby initiating the international expression of ‘Beatlemania;’ a mere three years nearer to the here and now, in 1966, a professor of African Studies at California State University first promoted a Kwanzaa week-long celebration as an expression of African-American culture and power, while Jimi Hendrix plumbed psychedelic depths when he penned “Purple Haze;” half a dozen years subsequent to that initial celebration, in 1972, a much more aggressive and malicious and murderous expression of culture unfolded as the United States Air Force, under the leadership of President Nixon, began the bombing operations against North Vietnam that it called “Operation Linebacker II,” the largest aggregation of superbombers against an enemy in history; just shy of two decades still more proximate to the present pass, in 1991, the high court of Soviet Russia formally dissolved the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; eight additional revolutions around the solar center, in 1999, the exemplar of Chicago soul, Curtis Mayfield, who had suffered a tragic and paralyzing industrial accident on stage almost a decade before, sang his swan song; five years past that passing, in 2004, Ukrainian politics became a center stage act on the world scene as all manner of ideological and practical political opponents fought out the final act of that country’s election; eleven years later still, in 2015, the venerable and well-regarded anthropologist and humanist Sidney Mintz died.