Once again Obama bows.
"So it is you!" said Xi-feng with a chilling smile. "I suppose you thought that because you have a somewhat more lady-like job than the rest, that you could afford to disobey my orders!"
"Oh no, madam, indeed not!" said the woman. "I've been coming extra early every day. It's only today, because I overslept, that I'm a bit late. Please let me off this once, madam! It really is the first time."
(Xi-feng is interrupted by other business for a minute, and then returns her attention to the woman)
"Tomorrow another one will be late and the day after that it will be somebody else," said Xi-feng turning to the still waiting offender, "and before we know where we are we shall have no one turning up at all. I should have liked to have left you off, but if I'm lenient with you the first time, it will be that much harder for me to deal with somebody else the second time; so I am obliged to make an example of you." Her face hardened as she pronounced sentence: "Take her out and give her twenty strokes of the bamboo!"
Seeing X-feng was really angry, the servants dared not show themselves slack in executing her command. The wretched woman was half-dragged from the room and the flogging administered in full view of the waiting throng, after which they came in again, the executioners to report that they had discharged their duty and their victim to thank Xi-feng for her punishment.
From that day onwards the staff of the Ning-guo mansion realized just how formidable Xi-feng could be and went about their duties in fear and trembling, not daring to idle or delay.
That scene is from the Chinese literary masterpiece, The Story of the Stone. The novel covers the affairs of two entwined high caste families, living in adjoining mansions, and their numerous servants (who are actually slaves of the families).
One of the young wives of one of the families has died. Her mother-in-law is too ill to attend to the pomp and ceremony of her funeral, so Xi-feng, a cousin from the other household, is assigned the task of managing her household during the funeral. Xi-feng considers the household she's been tasked to manage as being lax in their discipline. She thinks the servants are allowed too much latitude and she is determined to enforce order. This leads to the caning of the old servant woman who overslept.
Xi-feng's rationalization of what she has to do, the caning, and the requirement that the beaten woman 'thank' Xi-feng for her punishment is the ugly face of aristocracy, the ruling class, and status bought through bloodline. Through out history it was the condition of the common man. Even today it is still the condition of the common man in many places. There are betters and there are underlings, and that is just the way it is and will always be. Forget that and there is a bamboo staff, or worse, to remind one of the proper order of things.
We forget at our peril how revolutionary and subversive to the old order the United States is by simply being.
"All men are created equal" is a direct slap in the face of Divine Right and the attitude of To the Manor Born. It is beyond all else what we as Americans are all about. We are not a bloodline, or a clan, or an ethnicity; we are believers in the idea that all people are sacred. All people are born equal. We are all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the fear of our betters caning us on a whim and expecting our gratitude for the act.
It is that which makes Obama's bow and scraping so teeth gritting. He may consider it politeness, or civility, or whatever; but free men do not bow and scrape to potentates and dictators. If only he had a bit of Alice Frazier in him. She understood what seems to be a mystery to him -- she understood her and a Queen's place in the order of things.
This man is vapid and an embarrassment to the office.
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