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

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Tempest and the Plantation


In the Tempest, Caliban is a beastly savage who had the run of a small island before Prospero showed up with his daughter Miranda. Prospero, treated in the play as a wise and conciliatory wielder of magic, nevertheless enslaves Caliban. Here's how they greet each other (dam means mother; fen means marsh, considered a source of disease and infection):

Pros: "Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself
Upon thy wicked dam, come forth!"

Cal: "As wicked dew as e're my mother brushed
With raven's feather from unwholesome fen
Drop on you both! A southwest blow on ye
And blister you all o'er!"

Pros: "For this, be sure, tonight thou shalt have cramps
Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up. Urchins
Shall forth at vast of night that they may work
All exercise on thee. Thou shalt be pinched
As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging
Than bees that made 'em."

And thus does Prospero with such magical powers enslave Caliban, turning him literally into a hewer of wood and drawer of water. And speaking of slavery, in a speech in Harlem on Martin Luther King Day, Senator Clinton compared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to a plantation where dissenting voices are squelched.

Clint: "The House has been run like a plantation,
and you know what I’m talking about. It has been
run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view
has had a chance to present legislation, to make an
argument, to be heard.”

Bardseye viewers, even Hillary-inclined left-leaning ones, must question if the senator believed what she was saying or was merely pandering to her primarily African-American audience. The Democratic Party has been able to rely on receiving upwards of 90% of the black vote for the past two generations, ever since President Johnson championed the legislation that ended the legal subjugation of blacks in America. It is little remembered, however, that in 1964, a higher percentage of republicans than democrats voted for that famous civil rights legislation in the House of Representatives. Here Caliban, who represents not blacks but the Democratic Party's increasingly patronizing, racist image of blacks, complains to Senator Clinton, I mean to Prospero, of his treatment:

Cal: "This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou tak'st from me. When thou cam'st first,
Thou strok'st me and made much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in 't, and teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night. And then I loved thee
And showed thee all the qualities o' th' isle,
The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile.
Cursed be I that did so!..."

It remains to be seen if today's African-Americans have grown tired of being treated by the Democratic party as though they were Calibans and not citizens; Calibans chained to failing schools rather than citizens free to take a voucher to any school they choose; Calibans locked into violent Democratic Party dominated inner city neighborhoods instead of citizens who can rely on law enforcement and protection the way republicans of any color can in the suburbs. Caliban regrets voting for President Clinton and Senator Clinton; that is, showing them "the qualities o' th' isle." Cursed be I that I did so, he says. Here's what he goes on to say, and how Senator Clinton, I mean Prospero, answers:

Cal: "Cursed by I that did so! All the charms
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!
For I am all the subjects that you have,
Which first was mine own king; and here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o' th' island.

Pros: "Thou most lying slave…"

We'll see if African-Americans vote against their own enslavement on the Democratic Party
plantation in future elections.

* * * * * * * * *

Here's a post from the recommendable basil's blog.

And here's a post from the recommendable Jo's Cafe

And here's a link to the Carnival of Satire

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