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Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: May 02, 2004 - May 08, 2004 Archives


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Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: May 02, 2004 - May 08, 2004 Archives
Topic: Society 7:44 am EDT, May  7, 2004

[Crossposting from the Supernicety :

Indeed, more proof that Shakespeare has already said pretty much everything that’s worth saying… Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo provides the following excerpt from Henry V in which the king, disguised, talks with two soldiers :

KING HENRY. I dare say you love him not so ill to wish him here alone, howsoever you speak this, to feel other men’s minds; methinks I could not die anywhere so contented as in the King’s company, his cause being just and his quarrel honorable.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS. That’s more than we know.

JOHN BATES. Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough if we know we are the King’s subjects. If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS. But if his cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp’d off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all ‘We died at such a place’ - some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of anything when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it; who to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.

…Act IV, Scene I

Our president wishes himself king, and wishes us to be Bates’ — unknowing, unquestioning followers of his cause, which he believes both just and honorable. The neocon movement, by denouncing all forms of dissent, subverting open discussion, wontonly tossing Coulterian charges of Treason at anyone who would challenge their King, would simultaneously have themselves absolved of whatever wrong may someday come to light. “Our obedience…wipes the crime of it out of us”, they’ll say, in so many words… “Who are we to question the King… he said there were Weapons of Mass Destruction and we obeyed his call to war!” At the same time, they deny that the King Himself should shoulder any guilt either, for he is the King, whom God alone may judge, not mere mortals, not his SUBJECTS, not us.

But we are not like Mr. Bates. We have more information and more freedom. We are *not* subjects, and we have the capacity, the right, and even the duty to challenge our leaders. Challenge them to justify their actions, so that we can be satisfied that their cause is just, their quarrel honorable, so that we can be sure that the crying dead have bought something of value with their lives. As such, we are all accountable as well. We owe no obedience to any King, and nothing but ignorance un-asked-for may absolve support for a dishonorable King.

The burden is heavy for all, and I’m not so unreasonable as to believe that President Bush doesn’t feel it as strongly as any. I believe he is genuine in his respect for the fallen. But his reckoning has not yet come. More and more we learn that the cause was misguided, mishandled and ill conceived… and the price grows ever higher. The King’s reckoning must come in November, when the people voice their disapproval and choose a new leader; one whose causes will be worthy of our support.

Just some thoughts I had while sitting idle this evening. -k]

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: May 02, 2004 - May 08, 2004 Archives

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