At one point in Western history, the "Robin Hood" of Anglo-Saxon legend became a socialist. When Hollywood got a hold him, he also became a charmer and prankster (as portrayed by Errol Flynn and animated by Disney), and later a mellow loner from Southern California in Kevin Costner's godawful 1991 production. But mostly, Robin was a socialist, and a man defined by the imperative of "stealing from the rich to give to the poor." He became one of history's few universally beloved Leftists, his name emblazoned on various pieces of uplifting legislation. Ayn Rand declared him the epitome of evil.
Something must be rotten in Sherwood forest. For in Russell Crow and Ridley Scott's Robin Hood (2010) only briefly does Robin actually don a hood and rob passers-by in the woods. (His victims in this case are leaders of the Roman church who had refused the starving population of Nottingham recourse to their grain.) Otherwise, the prince of theives is scandalously upright and law abiding. The New York Times's dissatisfaction with the film indicates that more than a century's worth of wealth-redistribution metaphors have been put at risk. (Or as Steve Sailer puts it, "American audiences ... have been puzzled (not without reason) over why Robin Hood doesn't have much to do with, well, Robin Hood.")
Uninterested in socialism and wary of taxation, if this new Robin has political ambition, it's not as a socialist but as an Anglo-Saxon nationalist. Liberal commentators have suggested that the hero belongs to the Tea Parties, but such snark misses the larger point that the character Crow and Scott construct is representative of a tradition best termed liberty before liberalism.
Robin demands his rights as an Englishman -- and specifically as anEnglishman. This visceral sense of birthright liberty is not too distant from Thomas Jefferson's conception of the "Rights of British America," which he believed derived from liberties secured by the Anglo-Saxon followers of Hengist and Horsa.
A "parliament" of sorts is depicted in the film, and there Robin speaks forthrightly, but it is also a non-democratic body, and, much as with its 10th-century Icelandic antecedent, the nobles in attendance come armed. Peers are to be respected -- and feared. Lacking any inkling of "universal solidarity," Robin, and the rest of the red-blooded British representatives talk of the French as vile foreign invaders, almost as another race.
It's no coincidence that Ridley Scott casts the Frenchmen, including a court double-crosser, as olive-skinned, dark-haired, and quasi-Moorish. Even the insincere, shifty King John -- a representative of the potential tyranny within every state -- is noticeably swarthy. In Scott's England, complexion reflects character.
With Gladiator, Scott's first collaboration with Crow, he proved capable of making a film that criticizes American Empire from the right. "Rome," much like fin-de-siècle America, was decadent and given to bread, circuses, and foreign wars. Similarly, in the world of Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart's military campaigns to the Holy Land have led to the financial ruin of the realm. Robin has followed his king off on the Crusades, and he fights valiantly, but when allowed to voice his opinion, Robin makes it clear that endless warring leads only to inhumanity and penury. Richard rebukes him ... but as "brave, honest and naïve."
"Steal from the rich to give to the poor" is, thankfully, never uttered once in the film. Instead, Robin's motto is "Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions," which, we discover, was instilled in him by his long-lost father, a radical (though classical liberal) philosopher whose ideas anticipated the Magna Carta.
"Lions and Lambs" certainly has an egalitarian quality to it, as do the Biblical verses it's drawn from, which describe the bliss on earth after the Second Coming. But Robin glosses the line as "Never give up." And by the climax of the film, it comes to stand for all Englishmen uniting together against the foreign invader.
It's also worth rejoicing at the total absence of political correctness in film. Well, almost total absence... In the climatic battle scene, Maid Marion enters the fray donning her late father's chainmail (which would have weighed 60 to 75 pounds and likely grounded the fair maid!) But luckily, Marion's foray into the man's world is quasi farcical, and she ends up whimpering in Robin's arms by the end, carried romantically along the beaches of Dover.
And despite her one assay at women's lib, Cate Blanchett's Marion is a loyal and feminine persona. Her relationship with Robin is, in turn, one of the most striking improvements over all previous versions. Robin enters her life as an impersonator of her late husband (a scheme devised by Marion's father so that the land might be kept in the family.) The Robin Hood legend is thus combined with that of The Return of Martin Guerre, one of the great romantic folktales of the West -- and a tale that's only powerful when its audience takes for granted the traditional duties of husband and wife.
Equally refreshing is the fact that Sherwood Forest has been cleansed of all token minorities. This is a notable change from the Robin Hoods of recent past. In Costner's Prince of Thieves, for instance, Robin was accompanied by a wise, avuncular Muslim played by Morgan Freeman (who appeared in the film between stints portraying U.S. presidents, God, and other forms of omniscience.) "Azeem" (a candidate to be celebrated in Fictional Black History Month) was depicted as more technologically and socially advanced than the backward English dolts of Sherwood, and he's given a rousing speech that inspires Robin's merry band to storm the Nottingham castle and save the virginal Maid Marion from the ravages of the Sheriff. Azeem helped deliver a child, despite the protestations of Friar Tuck, and provided a chemical compound that turned out to be gunpowder. (It must be white racism that prevents Azeem's descendents from achieving such wonders.)
In a recent BBC-produced a version of Robin Hood, Friar Tuck is actually played by a black actor. (One shouldn't hold one's breath for reciprocation and the casting of, say, Hugh Jackman in the role of Nelson Mandella in a future biopic.)
Robin Hood is so excellently un-PC -- not to mention stirring and successful as a film -- that one wonder whether rising anti-Establishment political candidates might tap it for inspiration...
Rand Paul recently won the Republican primary for the Senate seat in Kentucky and appears to be the front-runner against his Democratic opponent in the November election. In his acceptance speech, he claimed to bear a "message from the Tea Parties."
Though the mainstream media had liked Rand for a spell, as a "civil libertarian," once he became an actual threat, it was only a matter of time before they would work to destroy this "brave, honest and naïve" man. Over the past few days, they have been keying in on his views on the rights of private businesses owners that run counter to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Rand Paul: What I've always said is, I'm opposed to institutional racism, and I would have -- if I was alive at the time, I think -- had the courage to march with Martin Luther King to overturn institutional racism, and I see no place in our society for institutional racism.
National Public Radio: You would have marched with Martin Luther King but voted with Barry Goldwater?
Asserting the wonderfulness of MLK is the standard defense to any public charge of "racism," much like the "march with MLK, vote for Goldwater" meme is paramount to arguing the libertarians want the same multicultural, egalitarian society as the Left -- they just think the free-market is a better way of bringing it about.
What Paul and most libertarians fail to grasp is that, beyond criticism of the Civil Rights Act, any attempt to dismantle the Federal Government will be construed as "racist" by the Establishment and media for the simple reason that if Constitutional order were actually reinstated, millions upon millions of Black people safely ensconced in high-paying public sectors jobs would suddenly be forced to compete in the dreaded free market.
Limited government would sound the death knell of a black middle class built on cushy lifetime appointments at government bureaucracies. Black over-representation in nearly every agency is truly astonishing, and it ensures that African-Americans will fight tooth and nail against the Tea Party, Libertarians, Rand Paul, or anyone who even thinks about ending this good thing they've got going.
Libertarians aren't up to the task of limiting government anyway, for quite unlike Robin, they lack any sense of community and birthright, and thus will only engage people in endless, abstract, braniac debates about how, say, the welfare state retards black entrepreneurship or how much minorities would benefit by the lowering of the minimum wage.
Reason magazine, the major organ sustaining Libertarian opinion -- and a magazine that, one should remember, slandered Rand Paul's father when he questioned egalitarianism -- has come out in favor of the new Robin Hood film. But Robin has little in common with Reason. Men rise and fight against tyranny in defense of their people. No one has yet died for "free-markets," not to mention the right to enjoy cannabis and sodomy at will.
Libertarians usually treat race and ethnicity as the ultimate "collectivist" evil; and in doing so, fail to grasp the role both have played in the defense of liberty. (Unlike the white editors of Reason, most people of other races intuitively grasp the importance of group cohesion and have little compunction in calling upon it for collective advantage and survival).
Ridley Scott's Robin Hood introduces a dangerous idea -- that in the face of likely defeat, defiance and audacity are a people's only option. Arizona has heard the call, and has been unwavering in defending itself against all foes. Rand Paul should learn that groveling is the first step towards defeat and subservience.
Speak your mind, Rand, and rise and rise again, until lambs becomes lions.