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The Fungus That Conquered Europe
NY Times ^ | March 17, 2008 | JOHN READER

Posted on 03/19/2008 11:33:47 PM PDT by neverdem

THE feast of Ireland’s patron saint has always been an occasion for saluting the beautiful land “where the praties grow,” but it’s also a time to look again at the disaster that established around the world the Irish communities that today celebrate St. Patrick’s Day: the Great Potato Famine of 1845-6. In its wake, the Irish left the old country, with more than half a million settling in United States. The famine and the migrations changed Irish and American history, of course, but they drastically changed Britain too.

Americans may think of the disease that destroyed Ireland’s potato crops, late blight, as a European phenomenon, but its devastations actually started with them. The origin of the fungal organism responsible, Phytophthora infestans, has been traced to a valley in the highlands of central Mexico, and the first recorded instances of the disease are in the United States, with the sudden and mysterious destruction of potato crops around Philadelphia and New York in early 1843. Within months, winds spread the rapidly reproducing airborne spores of the disease, and by 1845 it had destroyed potato crops from Illinois east to Nova Scotia, and from Virginia north to Ontario.

It then crossed the Atlantic with a shipment of seed potatoes ordered by Belgian farmers. They had been hoping that fresh stock would improve their yields. Unhappily, it brought the seeds of devastation.

The warm damp spring of 1845 enabled late blight to become an epidemic. By mid-July, the disease had spread throughout Belgium and into the Netherlands. It went on to infect an area from northern Spain to the southern tips of Norway and Sweden, and east to Northern Italy. It moved inexorably through the British Isles and reached Connemara, on Ireland’s west coast, in mid-October. The ruin of Europe’s potato crops was complete...

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: agriculture; animalhusbandry; famine; godsgravesglyphs; greatpotatofamine; health; ireland; potatoes; science; spuds; taters
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1 posted on 03/19/2008 11:33:48 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Bush’s fault.

He knew we were going to need a few extra Irish regiments to help beat the slavers in the Civil War.

So he sent Karl Rove back in time with the Tardis to do that whole tater thing.


2 posted on 03/19/2008 11:45:02 PM PDT by Grimmy (equivocation is but the first step along the road to capitulation)
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To: neverdem

And the British, despotic rulers of the Emerald Isle, did nothing.


3 posted on 03/19/2008 11:53:38 PM PDT by MIT-Elephant ("Armed with what? Spitballs?")
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To: neverdem

The fungus might have come from the Americas. The potatoes did, too, in that case.


4 posted on 03/20/2008 12:01:45 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: neverdem; All

I am told that my family from Germany was ruined financially by another several years of potato blight during the Franco-Prussian war around 1871


5 posted on 03/20/2008 12:03:30 AM PDT by gleeaikin
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To: neverdem
The Fungus That Conquered Europe

islam.

6 posted on 03/20/2008 12:04:12 AM PDT by snarks_when_bored
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To: snarks_when_bored

“The Fungus That Conquered Europe

islam.”

Yeah. But only after the EUnix were rendered to castrati by repeated chopping of socialist utopianisms.


7 posted on 03/20/2008 12:09:39 AM PDT by Grimmy (equivocation is but the first step along the road to capitulation)
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To: neverdem

FR bookmark {{ and green potato skins }}


8 posted on 03/20/2008 12:17:45 AM PDT by Dad yer funny (FoxNews is morphing , and not for the better ,... internal struggle? Its hard to watch)
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To: Dad yer funny

- half a million settling in United States - Settling. How warm and cuddly. Wrong. They were shipped penniless to Newfoundland and had to walk half starved down to Boston or NY.


9 posted on 03/20/2008 12:40:37 AM PDT by paristwelve (.......the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them)
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To: neverdem

Spud duds

10 posted on 03/20/2008 12:42:25 AM PDT by Rudder (Klinton-Kool-Aid FReepers prefer spectacle over victory.)
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To: neverdem
There's a fungus amungus.
11 posted on 03/20/2008 12:42:43 AM PDT by Cheburashka (Liberalism: a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.)
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To: MIT-Elephant

I’m not sure about what the British did, but the Irish sure don’t like the Brits.


12 posted on 03/20/2008 12:47:37 AM PDT by KingJaja
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
States’ Battles Over Energy Grow Fiercer With U.S. in a Policy Gridlock

Ethanol Hoax Spreads Economic Havoc

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

13 posted on 03/20/2008 1:13:00 AM PDT by neverdem
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To: MIT-Elephant

What would you suggest they do? Curing the blight was beyond the technology of the time.


14 posted on 03/20/2008 1:13:00 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: KingJaja

That’s because Irish nationalism is inward looking, backward looking, and very very selfish.


15 posted on 03/20/2008 1:14:31 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Vanders9
"That’s because Irish nationalism is inward looking, backward looking, and very very selfish."

The Irish must be doing something right these days.

I know a number of Irish immigrants, mostly legal, though not all.

Quite a few have returned to Ireland where they see better future financial prospects than here in the States. These are all educated folks, people working in tech and financial services.

16 posted on 03/20/2008 1:41:09 AM PDT by billorites (Freepo ergo sum)
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To: neverdem
The Belgian aspect is new to me. In our family, the story was that the diseased seed potatoes were sent from the US to Ireland to help out a family that had to eat their seed potatoes from the previous year.

None of the Irish Famine books ever mention it was a widespread European problem.

A sarcastic story at the time was that Queen Victoria contributed 5 pounds Sterling to Irish famine relief but then thinking her subjects would be mad at the gesture, contributed 5 pounds to the Battersea Old Dogs Home to balance the generosity.

17 posted on 03/20/2008 1:42:15 AM PDT by leadhead (Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think,)
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To: neverdem

Blight has never gone away. I grow my own spuds here in Devon: and the recent succession of humid summers has provided perfect conditions for the fungus to flourish - particularly on the tomato crop. At least we now have some means of controlling it - although the remedies available to the non-commercial grower aren’t that effective.


18 posted on 03/20/2008 1:44:46 AM PDT by Winniesboy
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To: Vanders9

It’s much more complicated than that. We tend to forget that the British Empire was not a benign affair committed to the spread of human rights and democracy (sure it was better than the French).

The Irish have a long and bloody history under British rule. There was the Potato famine and the Irish War of Independence (1919 - 1921).

Let us not forget that it was the Americans that forced the British and French to promote human rights and democracy outside their home countries (they didn’t do it willingly).


19 posted on 03/20/2008 2:10:06 AM PDT by KingJaja
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To: KingJaja
"Americans forced"

You'll have to show some evidence for that statement. I think the real reason was the British knew that what they were doing was wrong and changed due to internal pressures. I believe in general the British public favored giving their colonies their independence. There was certainly no way Ireland could stand up to the British army over time.

But many Brits knew that colonization would eventually lead to demands for independence. Prime Minister William Gladstone was a proponent of Irish independence back in the late nineteeth century. Like a lot of ideas the idea that Britain should not forcibly rule certain foreign populations is one that eventually became the prevailing idea among most Brits. I doubt we had much, or anything, to do with them changing.

20 posted on 03/20/2008 2:25:44 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: neverdem

bttt


21 posted on 03/20/2008 2:29:26 AM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we write in marble. JHuett)
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To: Vanders9

That’s a load, dude. They live in a place where the best they can do is grow sheep (here I’m talking history) and brew a bit other than that it was pretty damn stark.

Meanwhile, they were sitting next door to the British, (you know, the benevolent British, we loved them so very much we positively fell at their feet)...

Go here and read about the famine. And before I end my smack down, I want to express my opinion that your comment is just as racist as if I said all black Americans were niggers. (which they are most certainly not, and I beg their forgiveness)

http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/famine/coffin.htm


22 posted on 03/20/2008 2:45:08 AM PDT by djf
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To: billorites

Oh to be sure. Ireland is an expanding power now...their economy is absolutely booming. Partly the result of a high birth rate, partly the result of low costs, partly generous European grants (they do SOME good) and partly a burgeoning enterprise spirit. So yes, I would agree, things are getting much better out there.


23 posted on 03/20/2008 3:17:56 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: neverdem

... potatoes ??? I thought the article was to be about muslims...


24 posted on 03/20/2008 3:20:56 AM PDT by ByteMercenary (9-11: supported everywhere by followers of the the cult of islam.)
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To: MIT-Elephant
"And the British, despotic rulers of the Emerald Isle, did nothing."

Worse than that. during the whole period of thefamine, Ireland was a net exporter of oats and other grains.

The British couldhave relieved the famine, but were indifferent to the plight of the Irish who many considered little better than talking monkeys.

This is why even today in Ireland, Queen Victoria is known as "The Famine Queen".

25 posted on 03/20/2008 3:27:42 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: MIT-Elephant

And the British, despotic rulers of the Emerald Isle, did nothing.
*******************************************************
Actually the potato blight in Ireland wasn’t as severe as in other countries.. The English increased their purchases going foreward from Ireland and instead of cancelling or reducing the contracted amounts the Irish fulfilled their quota for shipment to England while their own people starved.


26 posted on 03/20/2008 3:39:02 AM PDT by Neidermeyer
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To: MIT-Elephant

“And the British, despotic rulers of the Emerald Isle, did nothing.

So what were the British supposed to have done?


27 posted on 03/20/2008 3:40:57 AM PDT by caver (Yes, I did crawl out of a hole in the ground.)
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To: Vanders9

Don’t forget tax breaks...BIG ones to foreign tech businesses that have taken root. What’s that, the free market working? The EU would never admit it.


28 posted on 03/20/2008 3:41:06 AM PDT by MIT-Elephant ("Armed with what? Spitballs?")
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To: KingJaja

“It’s much more complicated than that.”

Yes it is. But the Irish simplify it down to “Britain = always bad”, so I see no reason why they cant get the same treatment themselves.

“We tend to forget that the British Empire was not a benign affair committed to the spread of human rights and democracy (sure it was better than the French).”

I dont forget it. The Empire was simply a very large, very successful trading cartel. Individual Britons were very interested in the spread of democracy and human rights, but the Empire was smart enough to realise that you can take the donkey to water, but its a bad idea to force it to drink. That’s what American foreign policy (espec under FDR) gets wrong time and time again. If people want to live in a particular way...thats their prerogative. You may think they are wrong, and stupid, and even self-destructive...but its their choice. You are promoting individual freedom, after all?

“The Irish have a long and bloody history under British rule. There was the Potato famine and the Irish War of Independence (1919 - 1921).”

That is not the point I am making. Oppression, slavery, blood and injustice are a fact of Human history. Tragic, and stupid, but a fact. Over the years the Irish have had their fair share of it. Let me be generous...more than their fair share. The problem is that while other peoples have a vague folk memory of past wrongs, the Irish drill stories into their children from knee-high. Whereas other peoples put a dignified little monument at an old battlefield, the Irish raise a massive museum on it. Whereas other peoples have a commemorative plaque on the site of a massacre, the Irish make a shrine on it. They never forget the past, consequently they never forgive the past, and therefore they are forever shackled by the past. I’ve been to Ireland. I’ve seen all this. It’s a disgusting sight - an entire nation with a martyr complex. Well, I am NOT buying into it. I am not, I WILL not feel guilty for the alleged misdeeds (and these stories lose nothing in the telling) of folk who might have been my ancestors.

“Let us not forget that it was the Americans that forced the British and French to promote human rights and democracy outside their home countries (they didn’t do it willingly).”

What do you mean? Like slavery for example? Americans would have been happily shipping slaves in the early nineteenth century if the Royal Navy hadnt stopped the practice. Or are you referring to the dismantling of the empire after WW2? Yeah that worked well...many of the new countries are real standard bearers for human rights and democracy right up to this day.


29 posted on 03/20/2008 3:42:42 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Vanders9

Food subsidy, expansion of migrant work, prioritization of Irish survival over colonial export economy, an injunction against eviction and other predatory landowner operations.

The single-crop ways of Ireland might not have happened without the British policy of forcing Irish land to be split among children, splitting the native power base and leading eventually to the forced sharecropping that caused the Irish to grow the energy-dense potato in the first place. (This practice was ended by the Parliament after the Great Famine.)


30 posted on 03/20/2008 3:46:05 AM PDT by MIT-Elephant ("Armed with what? Spitballs?")
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To: Vanders9

If you don’t care to see the truth about British colonialism in Ireland exposed, you are free to counterargue, but why don’t you take your anti-Irish racism somewhere else?


31 posted on 03/20/2008 3:50:25 AM PDT by MIT-Elephant ("Armed with what? Spitballs?")
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To: djf

“That’s a load, dude. They live in a place where the best they can do is grow sheep (here I’m talking history) and brew a bit other than that it was pretty damn stark.”

My statement was “That’s because Irish nationalism is inward looking, backward looking, and very very selfish.” unquote. How is what you just said and what I said incompatible?

“Meanwhile, they were sitting next door to the British, (you know, the benevolent British, we loved them so very much we positively fell at their feet)...”

They try it on and they certainly will fall at our feet.

“Go here and read about the famine.”

I know all about the famine thank you very much. I know it was a great and horrid tragedy. However, the truth of that does not affect the truth in my statement “That’s because Irish nationalism is inward looking, backward looking, and very very selfish.”

“And before I end my smack down, I want to express my opinion that your comment is just as racist as if I said all black Americans were niggers. (which they are most certainly not, and I beg their forgiveness)”

If you think that “That’s because Irish nationalism is inward looking, backward looking, and very very selfish.” is a RACIST statement, I suggest you go and join the democrat party, where your victim mentatility will fit very well with Messr Sharpton, Jackson et al. That is a statement on a political theory prevalent in Ireland, not a slander on Irish people.


32 posted on 03/20/2008 3:55:08 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: MIT-Elephant

“Food subsidy, expansion of migrant work, prioritization of Irish survival over colonial export economy, an injunction against eviction and other predatory landowner operations.”

Oh, you mean government subsidies? Priorization of Irish survival over the nasty non-white people in the colonies?

“The single-crop ways of Ireland might not have happened without the British policy of forcing Irish land to be split among children...”

Thats not British policy. Dividing land between children is a Celtic holdover from the clan system. British are into primogeniture.


33 posted on 03/20/2008 3:59:44 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Vanders9

>> What would you suggest they do? Curing the blight was beyond the technology of the time. <<

Do a little historical research and find why the Irish, in particular, were so dependent on a single crop.


34 posted on 03/20/2008 4:12:46 AM PDT by dangus
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To: Vanders9

Someone posted that the Irish didn’t like the Brits.

You replied that it was because of nationalism and backward politics.

The first statement was political. Yours was far more general.

Where the hell could the Irish look, except for inward?
To the French or Spanish that would have immediately caused mass slaughter by the incoming British?

Britain is (or at least was) the center of modern law in the modern age. And as many times as we watch Braveheart, Edward the First had alot to do with it.

When you investigate a bit about what actually happened when Britain moved into Scotland, you will learn that the stream of infantry and calvary went North, something like six abreast, for over thirty hours.

That’s what they did to Scotland.

So do you blame Ireland?


35 posted on 03/20/2008 4:21:43 AM PDT by djf
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To: neverdem

save


36 posted on 03/20/2008 4:30:26 AM PDT by Eagles6
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To: neverdem
The origin of the fungal organism responsible, Phytophthora infestans, has been traced to a valley in the highlands of central Mexico, and the first recorded instances of the disease are in the United States,

 

It's still not to late to build a fence 

37 posted on 03/20/2008 4:32:11 AM PDT by grjr21
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To: neverdem

A similar fungus conquered America.

In the early 20th century, the fungus that is known as Chestnut Blight attacked the eastern climax forests and killed off the American Chestnut tree.

The chestnut Castenea dentata is still alive in forests but barely there and certainly not well. The blight trees kill the main stem and the tree dies back to regrow froom from massive root stocks. The blight is still around and after 8 or 10 years, attacks and kills the regrowth.


38 posted on 03/20/2008 4:35:22 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Never say never (there'll be a VP you'll like))
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To: Grimmy
He knew we were going to need a few extra Irish regiments to help beat the slavers in the Civil War.

He should have seen this coming.

39 posted on 03/20/2008 4:38:19 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The women got the vote and the Nation got Harding.)
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To: Jimmy Valentine
Worse than that. during the whole period of thefamine, Ireland was a net exporter of oats and other grains.

According to a History Channel special on Monday, during the famine, Ireland produced 4 times the food needed by its citizens. The British exported it all and let them starve.
40 posted on 03/20/2008 5:00:52 AM PDT by BikerJoe
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To: Vanders9

Churchill famously said (1942) that “I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.”

The British were right to stop slavery, but FDR and Eisenhower were also right to insist that Britain and France should abandon their Empires. If Britain was as dominant as the US was after the Second World War, I have no doubt that She would have expanded her empire.

Dismantling the Empire was the right thing to do. True, you get monsters like Idi Amin, Mugabe and probably everyone else in Africa. But you also get stellar success stories like Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, Malaysia and India. Would Singapore have been better if it was still under British rule? I doubt it.

It is to the credit of FDR that he did not seek to expand the territory of the United States (unlike Stalin and Britain after the First World War).

Contrary to popular opinion, the British Empire was a very badly run affair. The average annual growth rate between 1820 and 1950 of British India was a miserly 0.12%, this pales in comparison with the average annual growth rate of independent India. In fact, Britain is doing better today economically than She did as an Empire.

Any robber baron can seize raw materials at gun point and transfer them to the home country for processing and sell the finished products to citizens of the home country and colonials - and at the same time ensure that finished goods from low cost competitors like US and Japan are kept out through an elaborate system of tariffs. The real genius is in influencing people and trading with them without taking undue advantage. That is the genius of the United States.


41 posted on 03/20/2008 5:08:48 AM PDT by KingJaja
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To: Vanders9

My admittedly shallow understanding of the history is that the response of the ruling and propertied class to the catastrophic loss of crops was to take it out of the hides of those who had nothing, kicking them off the land and leaving them to starve to death. It was a callous, brutal attitude that yielded nothing to the landowners, and left a legacy of bitterness that will last a long, long time, and has a lot to do with the deeply felt Socialist sympathies of many of the Irish. The bastards who treated people this way deserve to rot in Hell. The very worst side of the capitalist system that I believe very deeply in.


42 posted on 03/20/2008 5:10:06 AM PDT by Humble Servant ( Keep it simple - do what's right.)
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To: Vanders9

” ... Ireland is an expanding power now...their economy is absolutely booming. Partly the result of a high birth rate, partly the result of low costs, partly generous European grants (they do SOME good) and partly a burgeoning enterprise spirit. ... “

MOSTLY due to the very wise tactic of providing the most favorable tax structures for businesses in the EU — BY FAR AND AWAY!!! Credit Capitalism.


43 posted on 03/20/2008 5:14:07 AM PDT by Humble Servant ( Keep it simple - do what's right.)
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To: djf

“Someone posted that the Irish didn’t like the Brits.

You replied that it was because of nationalism and backward politics.

The first statement was political. Yours was far more general.”

I think its more the other way round.

“Where the hell could the Irish look, except for inward?
To the French or Spanish that would have immediately caused mass slaughter by the incoming British?”

I wasnt talking about then. I’m talking about NOW. This is a perfect illustration of the truth I spoke. I give my opinion of Irish nationalism and the immediate comebacks boil down to “you can’t say that, or its racist of you to say that, because of what happened a century and a half ago. Or longer”. Irish nationalism IS backward looking. It only cares about the past.
As for inward-looking...theres nothing wrong with that in small doses. The problem arises when folk are ONLY inward-looking.

“When you investigate a bit about what actually happened when Britain moved into Scotland, you will learn that the stream of infantry and calvary went North, something like six abreast, for over thirty hours.”

1) England moved, not Britain moved.
2) So the king of England sent a big army north. So what? That was a dynastic struggle irrelevent to Ireland’s problems. Or would you prefer he sent a small one so the Scots could beat them?

“That’s what they did to Scotland.”

No that’s what Edward I did four hundred odd years earlier to various dynastic rivals in the land now called Scotland. His army incidentally, included lots of Scots.

“So do you blame Ireland?”

I don’t blame them for feeling aggrieved then, or for wanting to leave Ireland then. Or for even hating Britain then. I can blame them for holding onto grudges for century upon century and letting them influence their decision making processes now.


44 posted on 03/20/2008 5:31:05 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Humble Servant

I concur absolutely, except I would also add “racist” to “callous” and “brutal”.


45 posted on 03/20/2008 5:45:21 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: CarrotAndStick

Europeans did not have potatoes, until they were “discovered” in The New World. And, what would we do without chocolate?


46 posted on 03/20/2008 6:36:35 AM PDT by wizr ("Give me liberty, or give me death." - Patrick Henry)
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To: wizr

Yes, that was what I was trying to imply. Both the potatoes and the fungus, came from the Americas.


47 posted on 03/20/2008 6:39:57 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: KingJaja

THey did nothing.... locked the destitute up in “work houses” where they died of rampant diseases and dissentary.


48 posted on 03/20/2008 6:42:33 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: Humble Servant

oh, and “sectarian” as well...


49 posted on 03/20/2008 7:06:47 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: wizr
ooohhhhhhh....what indeed? :)
50 posted on 03/20/2008 7:07:51 AM PDT by Vanders9
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