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By James Peterson
July 18
, 2012

The story of Robin Hood has fascinated me from the time I first heard it. It tapped into the same nerve, I guess, that I have for the hatred of bullies. After all, Prince John was not only a usurper of the throne of his brother, Richard the Lion Heart, but Prince John’s attempt was the first instance in recorded English history of the power of the state to bully, coerce, and tyrannize its citizenry. We are told Prince John levied a tax for the purpose of raising the sum required to ransom his brother, King Richard, made captive in a dungeon in Austria while returning from the First Crusade. Never one to allow a crisis to go to waste, Prince John, levied a tax on the English so onerous that in order to get the peasantry to comply, Prince John gouged out eyes, tortured, burned peasant abodes, and otherwise broke the peace of the florid English countryside. He intended, of course, to allow his older brother, the good Richard the Lion Heart, to languish in the subterranean prison until his flesh was eaten away. Knowing the salutary experience that solitary confinement can have on the soul of the supplicant, Prince John was not about to deny his brother the charity of the opportunity to deny the ‘flesh’ and thus, to magnify his soul. In the inverted cerebrations that drive the flesh of the mind when the wand of power is held out for the hand to grasp, it is no wonder that the younger brother was all too willing to become the surviving brother.

Life being untidy as it is, it is no surprise that events did not march along in lockstep with Prince John’s serpentine ambition. Adumbrating the good fellows of the Magna Carta, some twenty years later, one noble stepped forward to expound on the ignobility of the one… who would be king. For that presumed puffery, so the Prince no doubt must have branded it, along with all the other brandings that marked his reign, the noble was forced to flee. To add insult to injury, the flight led directly to a royal hunting preserve, to the forest of Sherwood in the shire of Nottingham. What Robin of Loxley, soon to be known as Robin Hood, embarked on doing was to steal from the rich and give to the poor. But, who were the rich from whom Robin Hood was stealing? They were the governing elite, the cronies of Prince John, and among them was Guy of Gismond, a lackey and co-conspirator of the Prince, and the local church in the grip of the mailed fist of Prince John, and, of course, Prince John, himself. Himself could not abide this impertinence, this presumptively lofty righteousness, this morality that leaped above his own amorality. John marked this wolf’s head (Prince John’s words, not mine) a brigand, a branded enemy of the people, his cronies, that is.

How unfair! The rich (Prince John and his cohort usurpers of the Crown, i.e., the government) warred against the law of the land, against their own religion, against their own citizenry. This warfare, formulated by a devious, heartless master of political intrigue, plotter against the throne of England, was a throwback to the rebellion that had occurred, long before, far above the mists of time. It is the spirit of the Serpent, this Cyclops of single minded passion for that which was not his that sought to rule the green hills and valleys of Earth’s England.

But, today, this is not the currency of the story, the iconic myth that has been seeded into the minds of children and adults in America nearly a thousand years later. The modern currency is that those who earned their riches, or inherited their wealth, must be evil doers, and it is the government that must ride to the rescue of the poor who have been made poor by the spiritual wastrels of the materially rich. The story of Robin Hood captures like no other story in the history of England and America, the fact that power corrupts and envy is the enemy of liberty and prosperity. The founding fathers understood this because they were steeped in the verities of the Bible (the ten commandments: one of which proscribe the Janus of envy: envy not the neighbor’s wife, nor his possessions) which is why they fashioned a government that sought to maintain limited government, and a check on the growth of centralized power. Like Prince John, any unfettered central authority will seek to rob from those that ‘have’, even if it is the paltry ‘haves’ of the poor, in the name of a greater good. In Prince John’s case, it was to raise a ransom, which he never intended to pay, for the redemption of his older brother, the King. In modern times, it is high taxes and government debt financing sans an intention to repay the lenders with currency of equal value (debased because of inflation, because of the printing of too much money). It is the war machine of the Left that transformed this iconic myth of the English speaking people into the exact opposite of what it was. ‘Fairness’ is the cry of today’s lookalike Prince Johns.

The throne in our culture is constitutional government. It makes all persons equal under the law, protects the weak from the strong, and the strong from the weak. Whenever the Constitution is ignored or worn away or repudiated, it is nothing more than the recrudescence of the spirit of Prince John the usurper, confiscator of wealth, and of peoples’ lives.

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The Left has managed to drain the original story of Robin Hood of its truth because the Left cannot stand in the face of the gravity of truth. Prince John and his cronies’ rule was overreaching, and extra-legal (in modern language, unconstitutional). They were the ‘rich’, of Robin Hood’s day, and evil because their wealth was ill begotten. In keeping with the Left’s march to absolute power, the Left not only will rob the people in the name of giving (redistribution) to them, but they will also rob the very myths that undergird the history of a free society. In the political alchemy of the Left, in their upside down world, that which is gold is turned into dross, and ‘Robin Hood’ becomes a tale of ‘Robbing The Hood’.

© 2012 James Peterson - All Rights Reserved

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James Peterson grew up in a suburb of Boston and has lived in six states in the USA, and in Bavaria, Germany. He traveled to Czechoslovakia just months after the suppression by Russian Tanks of the Dubcek ‘spring’. It is there, during that sojourn, the skin of liberalism, which had been his apparel as an undergraduate, was shed. His fields of study while an undergraduate were history, political philosophy, and in Graduate School, Japanese history and culture. He taught history, English, and humanities, for three years at his high school alma mater. He grew up as a performing violinist, baseball player, fisherman, hiker, and mountain climber (east of the Mississippi, only!) He has written a collection of short stories describing life in a suburb of Boston in the ‘fifties’, and a literary thriller whose purpose is to provide a road map to independence from all petroleum imports. James has also composed a collection of poetry.

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Life being untidy as it is, it is no surprise that events did not march along in lockstep with Prince John’s serpentine ambition. Adumbrating the good fellows of the Magna Carta, some twenty years later, one noble stepped forward to expound on the ignobility of the one… who would be king.