Saturday, July 04, 2009

I Apologize

I am a loyal American citizen. I have served in our country's military. I like hot dogs and fireworks with the usual middle-aged verve of the chunkier portions of my generation. I put my hand over my heart at the appropriate occasions. So, on this day, this Fourth of July, I pass on one other aspect of acute, if Cassandra-like, mental precision.

We were wrong.
George the III was right and was the Lord's anointed.

So in the spirit of a Democrat Congress apologizing for the perfidy of others, I apologize to Her Majesty, Elizabeth the II for my country's sins.

I am perhaps alone in the metaphoric rending of garment. Mayhap it be only I for whom the potato salad turns to ashes upon consumption. But it is also I alone who will stand with eyes narrowed as the Great Unwashed gyrates through their patriotic fit.

I am loyal to America as she is, as I live in her. So it is of now I celebrate America thankful for the order and protection she provides.
Celebrate her founding? Pshaw!
I am big on King Solomon. Not so big on the adultery and murder that brought his mom and dad together.

22 comments:

Daniel Bakken said...

Many generations removed from the founding, we no longer feel the same way about England. They have become our closest ally. It was foolish to declare independence over such minor complaints. Our present tax burden makes King George look like Ron Paul.

But what's done is done. Chesterton wrote that tradition is the democracy of the dead. We as the founders' heirs must carefully choose a course between ungratefulness and hyper-patriotric adulation.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Of course the colonists believed the king was violating their charters and even Magna Carta--that is that the king was acting contrary to the law. It may be different in other countries, but in England, the law has been king, at least since 1215, and if he acts contrary to the law, the people have the right to hold him to the law. You can perhaps make a case that they weren't in the right, but surely the fact that there were good legal reasons behind their position and that the legal recourse they had, according to English Law was to fight, counts for something, no?

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Or to put that more directly: Parliament did not have, nor ever had had authority in the Colonies. But Parliament claimed authority, and contrary to their charters, the King backed it up. The King has no authority to tax (since Magna Carta) and since Parliament has no authority to tax the Colonies which authority belonged, according to their charters, to the Colonial Assemblies, Parliament was asserting authority it had not, and the King was in violation of Magna Carta.

Thomas Banks said...

Matt- True indeed. And yet there are two questions worth asking, I think: A) Is a duly appointed sovereign to be overthrown every time he/she commits the slightest transgression of our contractual rights, e.g., taxing our caffeinated beverages?

B)Do we want to establish a precedent for revolutions on the basis of such small grievances? If so, why haven't we overthrown every president since, say, Woodrow Wilson? (Income Tax was passed through congress during his tenure)

C)Do we believe the offenses of Parliament and the Crown sufficient grounds on which to try a cause that took 50,000 lives?

"It leaves one with the distinct impression that revolution is never a good idea."
-E.M. Forster-

Evan B. Wilson said...

Matt, I am all for the expression of civil concern when our overlords would violate the contract of rule. They are the overlords as they bear the sword. The rulers are given the sword and the ruled are not. Their agreements may be morally binding but I am only allowed to "appeal to Caesar" not go all Spartacus. The example given us in the writing of St. Peter is that of Christ. If we are punished unjustly (much worse a violation than taxing tea), we are to take it patiently and thereby get God's approval. The act of violent rebellion is the antithesis of "taking it patiently".

The shift of power to the Parliament was the track of English political development. We had a debt to those that controlled the armies over us, be it George III or his ministers in Parliament or his heir. Governments change and your submissive eye must follow where the "sword" goeth.

Good thought Tom.

Daniel Bakken said...

Evan cuts to the core by referring to Christ. If he suffered the injustice of Rome on a cross, how much more ought the founders to have submitted to King George?

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Tom,

One can debate whether the grievance merited the overthrow of the government. You may in short, as a member of the candid world, object that the facts are not sufficient to "to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security" but that rather, the causes were light and transient, and thus the government should not be changed, but rather suffer the evils.

But Evan's point, contrary to yours, is not that Prudence dictated that they suffer the wrongs, but that whatever the tyranny, they were in the wrong.

Evan,

Surely you can offer a more nuanced reading of Romans than that. A citizen ought not rebel against the government, therefore a people ought not. Something doesn't quite seem to follow. Was Judas Maccabeaus in the right? Or Jehu?

I'm not sure what your point about Parliament is. Parliament was gaining power in England where it was a rightful magistrate, therefore it was right for it to claim power in the Colonies where it was not a rightful magistrate?

Daniel Bakken said...

Matt,

Jehu was anointed by the Lord and ordered to overthrow King Ahab. His situation is hardly comparable to the American Revolution.

Evan B. Wilson said...

Perhaps, Matt, I do not feel the need to "nuance" Romans.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

I never said you did need to nuance Romans.

And Jesus was anointed by the Lord, and ordered to overthrow King Caesar. His situation is hardly analogous to the colonists either.

(Or else you can recognize that both are relevant.)

Daniel Bakken said...

Neither Jesus nor Jehu rebelled against the authorities established by God.

In Jehu's case, God anointed him as king, and he was not rebelling at all. The colonists had no claim to an anointing by God, and thus were in rebellion against him.

Jesus, whom we are to imitate, didn't declare independence and set up his own government. He acknowledged Rome's powers of the sword and taxation. Jesus was crucified without protest. Rome and Jerusalem were overthrown, but not by an army of so-called patriots. Christ's victory was the on the cross, not the battlefield.

Evan B. Wilson said...

Well said Daniel.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

But the question is whether the colonists rebelled against the authorities established by God, or in loyalty to the authority established by God, overthrew tyrants who were claiming authority which was not indeed theirs.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Christ's victory was the on the cross, not the battlefield.

Well, that's not entirely accurate. "In hoc signum" and all that. But your line of reasoning--that the Colonies should have submitted as Christ submitted--isn't available to Evan. The question isn't whether the individual colonists had the authority to rebel, but whether the Colonies had had their charters violated, and therefore we no longer subject to the king (or at least had the authority to reject their subjection). And Evan does not think we should, as states, imitate Christ, but as individuals. If it were, he would have to become a Pacifist, and I don't think he's been convinced by Scribblative Agincourting lately.

We are to imitate Christ, but not only Christ who died on the Cross, but also Christ who stood up to the Pharisees and regularly defeated them in conflict, by joining in battle with them. And unless Evan wants, following Doug Jones, to impose an artificial distinction between armed and verbal conflict, the question of whether the colonies were more in the position of Jesus asked about divorce and the resurrection, or Jesus approached in the garden with swords is open, and thus it ought not be begged by stating that Jesus did not resist when they came to arrest him. Yes, granted. But he did, forcefully, resist their attempts to trap him (and even to kill and arrest him) earlier.

Daniel Bakken said...

The distinction between armed and verbal conflict is hardly artificial. It seems quite obvious and useful to me.

King George sent soldiers to subdue the colonies, not orators.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

But both are types of combat and Christ on the Cross and in the trials eschewed not only armed conflict, but also verbal conflict. So the argument based on imitation of Christ on the Cross, if absolute, rules out both, and thus rules out Christ's refutation of the Pharisees.

Also, it isn't like Christ had debates with the Pharisees. His life was on the line, and He defended Himself, and put them to shame.

Evan B. Wilson said...

Matt,
Consider St. Paul's apology when his rights under the law, (when the high priest commanded him to be slapped) were initially and vigorously defended but once he knew that it was the high priest, he apologized and referred to the issue of rank.
Acts 23
[2] And the high priest Anani'as commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
[3] Then Paul said to him, "God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?"
[4] Those who stood by said, "Would you revile God's high priest?"
[5] And Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, `You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"

Do you think that David was holy in his refusal to kill King Saul even though Saul had done far more to him than Good King George did to any?

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Evan,

When did Congress send assassins to kill the King? We're not talking about Cromwell or Robespierre here. We are asking whether part of the jurisdiction of the colonies was to decree their charters violated. You position is that simply because the king is king, the colonies cannot call him to task for violating their charters. They have no jurisdiction, under no conceivable law, to tell the king "you have violated the charter, and thus we are no longer bound to uphold our side of the charter to you."

Evan B. Wilson said...

Matt,
What is it about the word "king" that you fail to understand?
This is not a contract of rule which, once perceived to be violated by the ruled, can be, not just verbally, but bloodily denied. Try applying your view to parents and children. If the kids think that the parents have over stepped the implied contract of parenting, they may not just refuse to obey but they may punch daddy's lights out.
Kings are better than we are. You may petition but bow the knee.
"The word of the king is supreme and who may say to him, "what are you doing?""

Matthew N. Petersen said...

So if Queen Elizabeth tells the English that they will now drive on the right side, they are morally compelled to acquiesce?

If the Emperor of Japan tells the Japanese that he is now dictator and all government is in him, they are morally compelled to agree?

Sheesh. The English King has never been an absolute monarch. Not in 1214, surely not in 1216, and my no means in 1776.

Daniel Bakken said...

The colonies rebelled as much against Parliament as against King George. Their grievances included many laws passed by Parliament: The Sugar Act, the Currency Act, the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, the Tea Act, etc.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

The colonies couldn't rebel against Parliament, any more than Harold Godwinson rebelled against William of Normandy, Alfred the Great against the Danes, or Philip IV against Edward III.