Royal Watch

Temper Tantrums of the Parvenus

May 12, 2011

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Temper Tantrums of the Parvenus

Although I’ve spent considerable time and energy analyzing the tics of the American conservative movement’s neoconservative master class, I have failed to call attention to their anti-monarchism. This trait surfaced most recently in a column by one of the New York Post’s wannabe conservatives Michael A. Walsh blasting Osama bin Laden as one more scoundrel in a long list of enemies: “Another arrogant thug had joined King George, the Nazis, the Soviet communists and all the rest on the ash heap of history.”

Anyone but a movement conservative groupie might wonder what George III, who reigned from 1760 to 1820, is doing on the same list with Hitler and Stalin. George was a constitutional monarch who went along with his parliamentary government when it imposed the Stamp Act on the American colonies and when it opposed (however languidly) the American rebellion. He did not run concentration camps nor even engage in vast projects of income redistribution. His Majesty exercised far less power than our current American executive.

“The new guys on the block can’t stand the remnants of an order to which they had not belonged.”

Nor did he land up on anyone’s “ash heap.” Although the British Crown lost direct control over the thirteen colonies, it became the new American republic’s major trading partner. Moreover, George managed to hold onto and bequeath to his profligate son George IV the rest of a vast overseas empire mostly acquired by his grandfather George II. By all accounts, George was a successful monarch in retaining as much of the British Empire as he did and in defeating an aggressively annexationist France under Napoleon. Under George’s rule Great Britain would become the world’s most powerful country. George and his ministers are today associated not with an ash heap but with their country’s glory age.

Walsh’s distortion of modern history is related to a much larger neocon fixation—hatred of monarchy even in its most benign and innocuous form. Last year the GOP-neocon press went ballistic over Obama’s bowing his head as a sign of respect before two monarchs, one of them the Emperor of Japan. This was treated as an inexcusably un-American act, as if our constitution (the one that for the most part we no longer live under) requires us to dis monarchs. If our “conservatives” are so passionately concerned about keeping to our original republican virtues, why aren’t they clamoring to abolish our centralized managerial dictatorship? Surely the Public Accommodation clause of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—which Rand Paul questioned, leading National Review columnist Rich Lowry to view Paul as weird—is a greater threat to constitutionally limited government than having our president bow before a Japanese Emperor. How does such obeisance do anything to make us less free?

The neoconservative abhorrence of monarchy took a particularly vulgar form when the New York Post’s resident yenta Andrea Peyser went into a tear against Prince William, his new bride, and the hated British royals. A VDARE columnist took special offense at Peyser’s comment that the wedding guests looked “disturbingly white.” The writer wondered what would happen to a columnist who observed that the guests somewhere looked “disturbingly Jewish.” Andrea would never say anything so impolitic; nor would she ever speak slightingly about Martin Luther King’s love life or Michelle Obama’s ungainly appearance—unless Michelle’s hubby canceled an arms shipment to Tel Aviv.