A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Mark Antony and Furtive Conservatives


Mark Antony has a little problem. His friend and dictator, Julius Caesar, Emperor of Rome, is lying dead in a pool of his own blood in the city marketplace. Caesar's pack of assassins, led of course by Brutus, is standing boldly beside the body. They know of Mark Antony's loyalty to Caesar, and of the loyalty of a portion of the Roman army to Mark Antony. In an earlier meeting, they debated whether to slaughter Antony in the street beside his friend:

Cassius: "…I think it is not meet
Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar,
Should outlive Caesar. We shall find of him
A shrewd contriver…"

Brutus: "Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius,
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs,
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar.
Let's be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius…"

Cassius: "Yet I fear him…".

Antony is alone and, of course, outnumbered when he confronts these traitors. One false move or unwelcome word and he will be cut down. Here's how he handles it:

Ant: "O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well, -
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank;
If I myself, there is no hour so fit…".

It's the standard Roman pose, though it's a pleasure to see it clothed in Shakespeare's language. After a bit more posturing – Brutus says not to worry, Mark, we done it fer Rome, you're as safe as a kitten in a crib - Antony gets to the point:

Ant: "Gentlemen all – alas, what shall I say?
My credit now stands on such slippery ground
That one of two bad ways you must conceit me,
Either a coward or a flatterer.
That I did love thee, Caesar, O, 'tis true!
If then thy spirit look upon us now,
To see thy Antony making his peace,
Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes –
Most noble! – in the presence of thy corpse?
Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds,
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies…".

Apparently Mark Antony isn't the only person who has to walk a fine line between honor and (in this case social) suicide. The American Thinker has published the fascinating confession of a conservative suburban mother living in an overwhelmingly liberal community. The writer feels it necessary to conceal her views from her entire community, impelling her in turn to conceal her identity on her blog, where she is known only as bookwormroom. (Full disclosure: whoever bookwormroom may be, she and I maintain an occasional friendly correspondence) Antony speaks to himself and the audience (and for bloggers like Bookworm) once Brutus and the other liberals have left:

Ant: "O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds do I now prophesy -
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue -...".

"Over thy wounds." As over the wounds of hurt pride and battered citizenship do thousands of furtive conservatives "furiously blog" (in Book's phrase). And indeed, a telling piece of evidence supporting the idea that bookwormroom is far from alone in being alone, or rather that her predicament is far from unique, comes from some poll results she cites, showing that even in extravagantly liberal Beverly Hills, President Bush won 42% of the vote in 2004.

Moreover, Bush's support there more than doubled from the piddling 20% he won in 2000. Of course this doubling of Bush's secret Beverly Hills support took place after 9/11 struck fear in those liberals' hearts.

But my broader point is that it is unthinkable that when social conversations in Beverly Hills turn to the issues of the day, anything near 42% of the conversationalists announce their broadly Bush-approving views. And yet that's what the poll results proclaim.

P.S.: Here's the link for the warm-hearted and always recommendable bookwormroom.

And here's a related post from the estimable California Conservative.

And here's one from the always recommendable Cenfederate Yankee.

And here's a related post from the always worthwhile Generation Why?

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