By Juan Cole
The following was first published on Juan Cole’s website, Informed Comment.
Dear Royal Baby:
You had an ancestor named King George III that we Americans said a lot of nasty things about, and we’d like to apologize to you, since you seem like a nice baby and anyway, we’ve gotten over our dissatisfaction with your Highness’s family. We wonder if you’d like to take back over in a few years.
See, our own ancestors really minded taxation without representation, and, no offense, but your great great great etc. grandfather didn’t let us have real representation but gladly put taxes on things like our tea.
But we no longer mind the principle of taxation without representation. We’re actively trying to make it difficult for our poor people, minorities and college students to vote. We also won’t let 5 million people convicted of artificially defined “felonies” vote or run for office (sometimes inflicting $250 of property damages can make you a felon). All of these individuals pay Federal social security taxes if they work (and they all do at some point in their lives), which go into the general budget. Many pay state taxes, too. But we’re going to see if we can stop them from having representation even though they pay taxes. We’ll make them have i.d., which will require them to spend a lot of time running around and standing in line at the DMV, and will cost them money that they often don’t have. Anyway, we want them unrepresented but we want to raise their taxes. So there really wasn’t any point in making all that trouble at Boston Harbor over the tea taxes set by your ancestor. We’re fine with the way he used to do things, now.
Our silly ancestors also used to mind the imposition of the Anglican Church as the State Church. I’m afraid your forebear was pretty hard on Quakers, who didn’t get baptized; that was jailtime for them. Our founders minded having their souls ordered around that way and wanted to forbid the Establishment of any religion.
But we’ve rethought this idea. We’ve decided that since some forms of Christianity forbid abortion, we’re going to make it impossible for women to have abortions in states like Texas. Although abortion is perfectly legal, we’ve managed to ensure that 88% of counties in the country don’t have an abortion clinic or other facility where one can be performed. We don’t outright forbid it, we just set up Catch-22s to make it impossible. We are going to reestablish the old 18th century Anglican precepts in a lot of areas of life. This guy Cuccinelli in Virginia wants to bring back sodomy laws, something King George’s police knew all about. Since your royal Highness is the future head of the Anglican church, we’d like you to take back over dictating our spiritual lives to us. Given the changes in Anglicanism, you might not be able to help us with that sodomy thing (you’ll have to wait a while before we let you know what that is). But as absolute monarch slash head of the official Church of the United Kingdom of American States, you’d get us close to the model that Ted Cruz and Steven King are trying to impose on us, and its a little unlikely that you will be anywhere nearly as bonkers as they are.
King George III angered our ancestors by issuing “writs of assistance”– a kind of blanket search warrant that allowed police to enter private homes and businesses on fishing expeditions for evidence of smuggling. (Your ancestor was as hung up on “smuggling” as we are now about “terrorism”). For a while we had this silly fourth amendment to our constitution that required that police get a warrant before they went snooping through our records.
But we’ve decided to bring back the writs of assistance, which we now call “national security letters.” And we’ve decided that the government can go through millions of our private records all they like, without a warrant or evidence of wrongdoing or even specific search in mind. We’re going to let the police know who we call, when, for how long, and where we were when we did it. No offense, but your great-grandmother presides over a government that is running a Tempora program scooping up a lot of our emails and phone calls from the transatlantic fiber optic cables, and we’ve assigned 250 National Security Agency analysts to go through that material. I know that’s a lot of long words, but one day you’ll understand. The point is only that our government now is doing things to us with your government’s help that king George III wouldn’t have dreamed of, which wouldn’t even have been legal under the 18th century monarchy, whose courts afforded people more privacy than ours do now. So we now think that John Adams was a little crazy to be upset about a few police in people’s living rooms reading their mail without permission. You might as well read our mail as our hypocrite president, who had campaigned on restoring our privacy. All you’ll need is a password to the vast database. We think you should just invade our privacy all the time and be Our Majesty.
A lot of other things, like freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of peaceable assembly, which seemed like a good idea in 1789, now seem really dangerous to us and we’ve started to agree with King George III about the undesirability of those liberties. So we’re going to prosecute journalists for receiving classified information and publishing it, even if they weren’t the ones who took it from the government. And we’re going to chase whistleblowers around the world and charge them with espionage even though they only revealed their information to the American people. So that pretty much wraps up freedom of speech and the press. We don’t allow freedom of assembly any more. We’ve privatized all the places you could have a public protest, so all protests are actually a form of trespassing. If anyone tries to organize protests, even on behalf of clean water and air, we’ll have the FBI visit them. And we’ll tap their phone. So the way your ancestor King George III did things is just fine with us now. In fact, we think he was kind of a wuss and are hoping you’ll take a firmer hand.
Our foolish forebears minded the torture and cruel and unusual punishments imposed by King George III. But we have gone back to torturing people (though we do it at black sites). We also execute people via drone without due process. We hold people without charge or trial at Guantanamo and force-feed them. We put Bradley Manning in solitary for a year, kept him naked and chained, and woke him up several times a night for months in a row. Your royal ancestors knew all about isolating people in Towers or using sleep deprivation tactics, so you’ll one day understand what I’m saying here.
I could go on and on about how misguided that whole 1776 thing was, and how we’ve now given up almost everything it was originally about. We really were mean to your great great etc. grandfather. We didn’t understand that he did what he did to keep us and the empire safe. The empire, as you’ll one day understand, always comes first.
So, you know, take your time. You’ll want to be able to walk and say a few words. Get potty-trained ( though that isn’t really a prerequisite for our politicians). But as soon as you can, we’d like you to become monarch of the United Kingdom of the American States and rule us as an absolute monarch. You won’t understand yet, but there are also these black leather “toys” we’d like you to use on us, now that we’re so past those absurd “liberties.”
Besides, we’re the ones who are really excited by the royals, so why not just admit that we are not republicans any more?
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