June 2011

Is there a little prince or princess in your house?

By David Grant Long

All the recent hoopla around “The Royal Wedding” in London sickened me – mostly figuratively, but a bit literally as well.

The actual wave of nausea came when I saw the latest “Royal Couple” on the front of both Time and Newsweek, publications to which I now subscribe primarily to help our terminally ill print news media, and which are mere shells of their former glory days when they actually made and broke real news – Watergate, the Iran/Contra deal and so on, back when their reporters made sleazy politicians quake in their Armani loafers.

So I say thanks to those who killed Bin Laden for truncating what was promising to be endless coverage of these two young people with few or no accomplishments and minds as vacuous as our Hoover, and replacing the Duke and Duchess with his bearded, glowering mug on the covers of these fading queens of journalism.

Yeah, the terminators who executed that brutal punk spared us from even more vomituous accounts of two glaring symbols of the larger injustices bin Laden used to recruit his true believers. Important stuff like the new Richie Rich and his fawning bride riding around in horse-drawn carriages or vacationing in lavish decadence in the British colony of Bermuda, or whatever. (It was a slow news period, and cable news in particular was filling the void with what it does best: easy and superficial stories about media-created celebrities.)

But a tummy ache I can get over in short order. It’s the attitude of the American people toward the whole concept of royalty that galls me in a place no antacid can reach.

In theory, at least, this country was founded on the principle that all men (and, eventually, women and folks of color) are created equal and each person is as deserving as the next when it comes to their rights and liberties, their status and opportunities to achieve the heights of glory and power, however those are defined.

You may remember reading in high school about the American Revolutionary War, where outnumbered, under-armed and poorly equipped colonists fought the repressive redcoats, the lobster-backs of Crazy King George, and giants like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison conceived a new form of governance based on representative democracy.

You may also remember reading about how in medieval times vicious thugs who assigned themselves the ultimate royal status as kings ruled the peasantry with iron fists, allegedly deriving their power from a self-serving concept known as “The Divine Right of Kings.” Under this bogus theory, “God,” usually the Christian God, had declared only certain meritorious people and their progeny fit to rule, and all others were supposed to obey them, no how loony, degenerate or cruel they might turn out to be.

They and they alone had the power to chop off heads, confiscate property, and decide who could marry whom, what taxes should be levied and who should be sent into battle to die.

The Revolution was mostly about resisting such nonsense, as we are free to read (thanks to the First Amendment and other protections in the Bill of Rights) in the Declaration of Independence, authored by Jefferson for the very purpose of stating the principles of equality and democracy for which we used to stand.

But at some level, it seems, a large portion of Americans dearly miss the notion of some of us being superior to others, sipping tea and crying, “Jolly good!” We yearn for those fine old days when monarchs made the rules and we simply followed them like herd animals.

We have, of course, created our own ruling class, those rich, famous and powerful enough to influence the masses, or “the great unwashed” as they like to think of us common folks. We fawn at the feet of Hollywood actors, pop singers and sports stars. But at least anyone in this country — via shows like “American Idol” and the political or sports arena — has a chance to achieve the same level of fortune ot fame. Not so with the Brits, where no average citizen can aspire to be king or queen, not even for a day.

Perhaps Americans’ fascination with royalty can only be explained by genetics, some gut-level longing to be “a little princess” or “a prince of a guy” ourselves.

Whatever, I see our fascination with the pageantry and pomp involved in two bejeweled regal airheads getting hitched as one striking clue, unfortunately among many, that perhaps we are no longer capable of embracing the concepts of liberty, equality and justice for all, or assuming the responsibility and hard work that come with being truly independent agents – mistresses and masters of our own fate, to use the archaic terms related to “class.”

And showing the world — much of which lives in the wretched poverty that breeds the very radical elements to whom Bin Laden appealed — that we are such ardent fans of Royal Pukes and Pukesses only exacerbates the hatred he so sucessfully exploited.

Actually I still feel kind of queasy just thinking about it.

David Grant Long writes from Cortez, Colo.