Roger Casement  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Sir Roger David Casement (1 September, 18643 August, 1916) was an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary and nationalist by inclination. He was a British diplomat by profession and is famous for his activities against human rights abuses in the Congo and Peru, but more well known for his dealings with Germany prior to Ireland's Easter Rising in 1916. A patriotic Briton early in his life, his traumatic experiences witnessing human rights abuses in the Congo and Peru led him to anti-Imperialist and ultimately Irish Republican political opinions.

The Black Diaries and Casement’s sexuality

Prior to his execution, photographs of a diary which the Crown claimed belonged to Casement were circulated to those urging commutation of his death sentence. These documents, supplied to King George V, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others in Britain, Ireland and the United States, showed Casement to have been a promiscuous homosexual with a fondness for very young men, a crime at the time. In a time of strong social conservatism, not least among Irish Catholics, the "Black Diaries" undermined or at least stifled support for Casement. They also led some of Casement's opponents to suggest that details about colonial sexual atrocities in his reports were based on his personal fantasies, though this was not supported by evidence. The diaries may now be inspected at the British National Archives in Kew.

Though some believed that the diaries were forgeries, much as Charles Stewart Parnell had been the target of the Pigott forgeries implicating him in the Phoenix Park Murders, others did not. H. Montgomery Hyde, the Unionist MP and barrister who wrote a book on Casement's trial, had no doubt that Casement had been a pederast.

In an effort to settle the issue, an independent forensic examination of the diaries, funded by RTÉ and the BBC, was recently undertaken by Dr. Audrey Giles, an internationally respected figure in the field of document forensics. In comparing Casement's "White Diaries" (ordinary diaries of the time) with the "Black Diaries", which allegedly date from the same time-span, the study concluded, on the basis of detailed handwriting analysis, that the Black Diaries were genuine and had been written by Casement.

This study, commissioned by a team of academics from Goldsmiths, University of London, was submitted to the forensic expert James Horan for peer review. Horan rejected the report. His main criticism was that there was no evidence that the comparative material used was the handwriting of Roger Casement. He noted that it was this problem which lead to the mistaken authentication of the Hitler diaries. The comparative material given to Dr Giles by the team from Goldsmiths was taken from the Morel Archive at the London School of Economics. All of it passed through the hands of British Intelligence after Morel's arrest in 1917.

The case for forgery of the Black Diaries has always been predicated on the fact that Casement was a uniquely admired and respected public figure in Britain among the 1916 leaders. It has also been claimed that the extremely active homosexual sex life described in the diaries is unlikely to be genuine, but it has been argued that this would not refute the authenticity of the diaries, as they may have been sexual fantasies.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Roger Casement" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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