Twenty strokes of the bamboo

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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. 


Knucklehead said...

Bow to one's foreign adversaries and enemies. Endlessly talk softly to them, ever promising more sweetness and affection.

Stand tall and point one's nose in the air when addressing one's foreign allies and domestic opposition. Stay relentlessly in their faces, pointing fingers, cajoling, and every threatening more discomfort and, whenever possible, pain.

Makes one wonder who The One perceives as friends and enemies, doesn't it?

What a way to run the largest, most powerful democracy in the world.

Dymphna said...

@Knucklehead -

Makes one wonder who The One perceives as friends and enemies, doesn't it? ...

Oh my. It doesn't pay to wonder awfully much during this current regime. They are taking down your name even now...

...speaking of which: whenever we go to a Tea Party event, my co-blogger wanders around the periphery until he finds the likely FBI (DHS?) dude sent to observe the extreme rightwing terrorist goings-on.

Inevitably, there is always a suspect (our town is small = small gatherings. Don't need more than one of them to ride herd).

This lost-in-a- crowd person is inevitably the most non-descript individual at the event. No Hoover-types with white shirts and ties. Just chinos and a plain t-shirt and sport shoes of some kind. "Normal" haircut, something you wouldn't notice. White male of indeterminate young middle age. Medium height, medium weight. They stand back from the crowd, not participating, but not being obtrusively non-participatory.

The suspected govt man ususally leaves about an hour before the scheduled end of the festivities.

We think this one, on the 15th, is one of the two that were at the larger gathering (4 times larger) on July 4th.

We've had three chances to watch so far. At the very first event, there were three of these people. At the second, two of them -- but we didn't look for babe govt types. Maybe we should have.


What a way to run the largest, most powerful democracy in the world.

I think you mean 'what a way to run our democracy into the ground'. We are NOT exceptional; don't forget that. Besides, he hates a lot of the people he "serves".

And if we just extend our hand in friendship to the devil, he'll be nice in return.

Sarkozy was right.

林守全 said...
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