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  • Snowball Atrocities #3: Geo-Political Snowballing July 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    Snowballs were the weapon of choice for young toughs out on the town in a blizzard. But they were also a way that furious crowds could show their contempt for various political or religious speakers. You could hurt and humiliate your enemy without running the risk (or not too great a risk) of finding yourself in the dock for murder, manslaughter or grievous bodily harm. In 1887 ex-Prime Minister Gladstone, the embodiment of Victorian liberalism, visited the Tory stronghold of Dover. A local band played ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ ironically ‘very much out of tune’ and Gladstone, then, in his late seventies had snowballs lobbed at him: one of which hit his shoulder. (Beach would have loved to have seen his face; in fact, he can think of nothing else). There is a record from January 1897 from Bradford (northern UK) of a referee being pelted with snowballs by the crowd after having called a try wrong in  a regional rugby match: sport probably deserves a post of its own.  In November 1904, Count Tisza the Premier of the Austro Hungarian empire was snowballed as he left a meeting of the liberal caucus: Tisza would be murdered in 1918, very possibly by some of those who had done the throwing. In 1909 itinerant Wycliffe preachers (a rather tiresome bunch) were run out of Burton-on-Trent (northern England) by snowballers: rather entertainingly they were at one point forced to take cover in a Labour party meeting in the town hall. In 1910 there are records of suffragists being snowballed in Stafford at a public meeting: the main speaker retreated ‘hatless and exhausted’. In January 1912, the German Polish Socialists and German Polish Nationalists fought each other in the streets of Berlin, during the national elections,  with snowballs. In April 1917 a peace campaigner was snowballed in the elections at Aberdeen: he had gone to speak to munition workers in the middle of the Great War… He arguably got off lightly. Most strikingly, and perhaps suicidally, the furious people of Prague snowballed German soldiers marching into their capital in March 1939. (Kudos, but rather you than me, guys). In March 1950 Germans worried about their jobs, snowballed British engineers and officials attempting to dismantle the Hermann Goering Steel Works. The recent snowballing of politicians has been rather disappointing: the only vaguely relevant thing that Beach could find was Senator James Inhofe ‘disproving’ climate change by throwing a snowball in the Senate. Nothing like props in politics. Any other geo-political snowballing? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com