Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama and the Emperor

The tiresome uproar over President Obama's apparent bow to the Emperor of Japan is a perfect illustration of why I hold that monarchists who happen to live in the United States should not necessarily identify with the American "Right." Not only are bows standard greetings in the Orient, but presidents of republics are still commoners, and it's entirely appropriate for commoners to bow to royalty, especially the world's only remaining Emperor. I am reminded of the Vatican's excellent seating arrangements for the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005, when as Fr Brian Harrison observed, royal guests, no matter how small their countries, sat in the front row, while republican representatives, no matter how powerful theirs, were firmly relegated to places behind them. It's also worth noting that Obama has been a head of state for less than a year, whereas Akihito has reigned for 20 years and is a generation older. While I disagree with Obama on many issues, his appropriate gesture of respect for a senior world leader and ally is not one of them, and for it to be considered an "issue" at all reflects not so much on him as on the pathetic infantilism of knee-jerk Americanists.

5 comments:

Viola said...

I usually agree with you but I disagree with you about this. I come from a constitutional monarchy and I'm in favour of the monarchy myself. However, I think that the suffering that many Westerners endured at the hands of the Japanese during the Second World War should have stopped Obama from even considering bowing.

Theodore Harvey said...

Emperor Akihito was 11 years old when the war ended. He bears no responsibility for the actions of his father's government. And what about the suffering Japanese people in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki endured at the hands of the Allies? Neither side had a clean record in that war.

Liongules said...

I'm afraid I also disagree with you. It has been the official government protocol of the United States since its founding that the President does not bow to anyone, regardless of their status. This was striclty adhered to until fairly recent times.

Theodore Harvey said...

...a founding that as an unreconstructed Tory I vehemently disagree with. I identify emotionally with the British Crown, not the American Presidency. And that presidency, having become a more inflated concentration of power than most of history's real monarchies, more so than even its founders intended, badly needs to show some humility these days.

Bolingbroke said...

I agree with Mr. Harvey. It is a mark of grace and respect and humility - all fine qualities - not a sign of submission or subservience. Good for Obama.