Boycott the royal wedding: Americans are supposed to hate monarchs, not worship them.

Department of complaints.
April 25 2011 4:45 PM

Boycott the Royal Wedding

Americans are supposed to hate monarchs, not worship them.

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For many Americans, however, the love of monarchy and titles is simply one aspect of a generalized Anglophilia. It is perhaps not surprising that there exists a pernicious strain of Anglophilia in the United States: As writers from Malcolm X to Orlando Patterson to Claude Steele have noted, oppressed (or enslaved, or colonized) peoples often internalize the message of the oppressor. Ian Buruma wrote a very good book, Anglomania, about the powerful draw that the idea of England has had for people all over the world, not least nations once ruled, or killed in great numbers, by the English. The child who rejects his mother often loves her more than the child who simply drifts away.

The rejected-child aspect of Anglophilia helps explain why marginalized peoples are perhaps most susceptible to Anglophilia. Just as Indians are more prone to Anglophilia today than Canadians are, in my own experience, a great number of the enthusiastic Anglophiles I have known have been gay men, Jews, or black people. They may perceive that the empire, and its personification the queen, is capacious enough to love them all. That even if their bosses or families or neighbors condescend to them, they are still enobled by being subjects of Her Royal Highness.

If American royal-worship were confined to this twisted pathology of self-loathing, or to buying newsstand copies of People magazine every time Princess Diana is exhumed for another cover story, it would not be such a problem. But instead we forget our American-ness. We shuck and jive—I mean bow and curtsy—for the royal box at Wimbledon's Center Court. We call them "the Queen Mother," "Prince Charles," or "Your Highness," instead of the more American, and more dignified, "Mrs. Windsor" or "Charles." We accept their worthless titles. We forget ourselves.

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I come not to bury the English royal family, that sad tribe of oft-divorcing, panty-sniffing, plant-whispering non-intellects whose matriarch still embarrasses otherwise dignified countries like Canada and Australia by staring out from their money. Christopher Hitchens has done a better job than I ever could shoveling dirt on their living entombment. That son of a Royal Navy officer put it very succinctly, writing that if Kate Middleton loves Prince William at all, she will abscond the both of them out of the monarchy altogether: "Many of us don't want or need another sacrificial lamb to water the dried bones and veins of a desiccated system."

And I certainly mean no disrespect to the English, that island people that gave us abolitionism, church-ratified divorce, the modern novel, and the Beatles. Rather, I simply want to recall to us our own inheritance, which is of a vision still quite radical: that we are all created equal. Being human, some number of us will always have the urge to ogle couture wedding dresses and generally wonder how the other half gets married. And the American version of that will involve people named Trump, Kennedy, or Kardashian. That tendency is not the United States of America at its best. But at least it is our bad tendency, born here, of a free people, one that calls each of us "Mr." or "Ms."—that, in fact, encourages the familiarity of "Kim," "Kourtney," and "Khloe." That is worth something, and it is worth sleeping on Friday morning.

Mark Oppenheimer writes the Beliefs column for the New York Times. He can be found at markoppenheimer.com and followed on Twitter @markopp1.