bardseyeview

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

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

King Lear and the New York Times

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We find ourselves tonight in King Lear’s realm, a pagan and pre-Christian setting. As you know, the basic story begins with Lear’s abdication in favor of two of his three daughters, Regan and Goneril, whom he has unwisely chosen based on their false flattery. His third daughter, Cordelia, being too modest and sincere to so manipulate her father, was punished for her virtue and dispossessed.

The evil daughters proceed to insult and abuse their dad in every way they can think of. Lear’s friend Gloucester unwisely confides in Edmund, who is both Gloucester’s bastard son and the lover of both Regan and Goneril:

Glou: “I have received a letter this night; ‘tis dangerous
To be spoken; I have locked the letter in my closet.
These injuries the King now bears will be revenged home;
There is part of a power already footed. We must incline
to the King….If I die for ‘t, as no less is threatened me,
the King my old master must be relieved.” (Exit).

Edm: “This courtesy forbid thee shall the Duke
Instantly know, and of that letter too.
This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
That which my father loses – no less than all.
The younger rises when the old doth fall.”

Let Lear, in all his grandeur and surprising vulnerability, represent America herself, and let Gloucester (Lear's and thus America's protector) represent those members of our intelligence services who are devoted to America’s protection, the cubby-holed analysts who seek that the “Injuries the King now bears will be revenged home.”

That sounds about right, with revenge coming in the form of a big fat bombing of Zarqawi and countless other raids, leading to the countless other enemy casualties and arrests that are taking place daily, about which our media does its best not to inform us. Yes, I know our military risk their lives to execute these raids, but intelligence is the oil that keeps the engine humming.

Alas, these Gloucesters, these loyal intelligence officers, are obliged to work cheek by jowl with countless Edmunds. These would be the sly, subversive agents of what by now has revealed itself to be an unofficial shadow government, one that has acted to sabotage our government’s policies from within (rather than work honorably to win elections for candidates with whom they agree). Nor can they be considered honorable whistleblowers, such as would go public with revelations of government practices they regard as illegal, openly attaching their names to their actions and allowing themselves to be judged.

As we all now know, Edmund revealed the banking surveillance program to the New York Times. That is, he revealed Gloucester’s letter to the Duke of Cornwall, Regan’s husband.

Edmund: “This is the letter he spoke of, which approves
him an intelligent party to the advantages of France….”

Gloucester is arrested in his own house, tied to a chair, and while masked gunmen chant “Allah Akbar!” and a video camera records every scream, the following occurs:

Corn: “Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.”

Glou: “He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help!”

Servants hold the chair as Cornwall grinds
Out one of Gloucester’s eyes with his boot.


“O Cruel! O you gods!”


Thus did Shakespeare, through Gloucester, pronounce judgment on the NSA or State Department leakers who revealed the (totally legal) banking surveillance program to the now-disgraced New York Times.
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