This evening, Great Britain and a number of her former colonies will celebrate the 400th anniversary of a failed attempt by a bunch of religious extremists to detonate a huge bomb in the centre of London. It's good to see that the world has moved on in the last four centuries.
The plotters of 1605 believed (with more than a little justification) that their religion was being oppressed by the state. The most practical solution they could come up with was to blow up the head of state by planting the mother of all bombs beneath the mother of all parliaments. The plot failed, and Catholic emancipation was put on hold for the next 200 years.
But we live in more enlightened times, and we Brits are a forgiving lot: in a recent poll, we voted the man chosen to detonate the bomb to be the 30th greatest Briton of all time (coming a whole ten places above the man who started the religious oppression in the first place).
Guy Fawkes was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his sins, but we are more enlightened than our forebears: we condemn religious fundamentalism in all its forms, and crusade against terrorism in foreign lands, while burning effigies of the man 400 years after the event.