As a junior-woodchuck professional in her mid-twenties, I have noticed the central theme of conversation among my cohorts and me these days has radically shifted from the typical 'young adult dialogue' of job hunting, career goals, dating, general current events, etc., almost exclusively to strictly the discourse of US politics. During dinner dates and over beers, unless there is a hopeful outcast wishing to divert our attention to the Red Sox, we usually have nothing more significant to talk about other than the Bush Administration--how screwed and distorted things at the White House and in Iraq are, and how skewed the communication to us from the mainstream media has become We're outraged at how completely wrecked George Bush and his cronies have are, and stunned by their unbelievable consistency in outdoing themselves.
In the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve sensed a bit of fatigue and irritation from my friends on these topics. This is most likely due to the fact that our conversations turn into heated debates. I get the vibe that my purposeful intensity annoys them, so recently, over a spaghetti dinner, I decided not to change the topic of debate, but to change my approach to the topic. Rather than bringing up a recent news headline or Bushism, (i.e. ‘Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream’), I read the classic tale of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’
It’s a story about a king who worries about nothing more than his appearance. He rarely cares for his soldiers and only visits his people if it serves as an opportunity to show off one of his getups. One day, two con artists come to town, claiming they’re master weavers who can manufacture the finest cloth. Their materials, they say, are not only exceptionally beautiful, but are possessed with the quality of being invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid. The king commissions the swindlers to weave him a wardrobe of their 'magic' cloth. Not a thread comes through their looms as they pretend to be hard at work, but they continue pocketing their payments. All who inspect their progress see nothing, but do not speak up out of fear of being declared an unpatriotic dolt. The time comes when the emperor is to accept his new outfit and display it during a town parade. Upon inspection, the emperor sees nothing at the looms as well. ‘What?’ he thinks, ‘I do not see anything at all. Am I unfit to be emperor? That would be the worst thing that could happen to me.’
So he proceeds with the parade, stark naked. The townsfolk uncomfortably say nothing until the voice of innocence, a child, calls the emperor out on his nudity. Quickly, the rest of the town joins in, making a deep impression upon the emperor, who knows they are right, but continues on with the procession, unwilling to admit his ignorance.
Immediately after reading the story, my friends were quick to identify the similarities between George Bush and the emperor, between the two con artists and the front runners in the Bush administration today. Although all eyes have witnessed the tapestry of lies spun by our leaders in DC—the ties between Saddam and the 911 attacks, the weapons of mass destruction, a chance for a blossoming democracy in Iraq, the treatment at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, fair elections in Afghanistan, the situation in Israel and Palestine, our booming economy and flowing jobs— Bush continues to exist in a purloined paradise.
With all the missing buttons, things should be obvious to Bush, but like the emperor, he still struts down his path of oblivion. Recently, during the second presidential debate, Linda Grabel calmly asked George Bush to ‘Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision and what you did to correct it.’ After a couple of bad, I suppose they were, jokes and snickers, he quickly jumped on the defensive, unwilling to reveal to even one minor misjudgment. Please, George Bush, you have completely derailed. Admit it.
But he won’t. In front of us, we have a clear cut parallel of the basic Hans Christian Andersen tale and the story of the US Empire today. We’ve identified our crooks, but we also have our protagonists— Daniel Ellsberg and those in the Truth Telling Project, Scott Ritter, Richard Clarke, Katherine Gun, Sibel Edmonds, the thousands of protesters at the GOP convention, and the rest of the folks who aren’t afraid to blow the whistle on the Bush and Co.'s deceptions. Andersen’s tale reveals the simple principles of right and wrong and the mantras we learned as untainted children, and we must not dislodge them from our ethical foundations. The US government has made its imperialism strategy quite clear to us by now, and the question left is whether or not we’ll be scared and manipulated enough to let them carry it out.
A friend of mine from Savannah told me once, ‘Naked is when you have no clothes on. Neked is when you have no clothes on and you’re up to no good.’ George Bush is completely neked, and it’s up to us to break the hush-hush.
Mira Ptacin is assistant editor at CommonDreams.org. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org