Friday, February 25, 2011


I have a host of weird hobbies and interests. One of them consists in collecting materials coming from Ricardian Apologists. To honor this interest of mine, I will regularly post reviews of Ricardian sources and start a new page on this blog where I will gather links pertaining to the topic of Ricardian Apology. It might seem like a boring subject at first, but bear with me, and I will tell you why it's fascinating.

We have all heard the opening lines of Shakespeare's Richard III:
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.
In Richard III, Shakespeare presents Richard as a nasty, ugly, humpbacked character who compensates for his lack of male charms with an unquenchable thirst for power:
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, 
Have no delight to pass away the time, 
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun, 
And descant on mine own deformity: 
And therefore,--since I cannot prove a lover, 
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,-- 
I am determined to prove a villain, 
And hate the idle pleasures of these days. 
 Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 by Henry Tudor who started the Tudor dynasty. His death is often considered to be the symbolic end of the Middle Ages in England. Richard has been accused (and this is very important) of murdering his two young nephews who were legitimate successors to the throne. Ricardians believe that Richard was unjustly accused of killing the boys. They have offered very strong arguments as to why it makes no sense to accuse Richard of killing the two young princes and as to who was the real murderer. I will acquaint you with the Ricardian version(s) of events little by little.

Now you might ask why I, who am neither a medievalist nor a scholar of English history, became so interested in Richard III. When I was 9, I discovered the story of Boris Godunov, the Russian tsar who, just like Richard III, rose to the throne against enormous odds and was accused of killing the little prince Dmitri who was a legitimate heir to the throne. There are two famous literary works in Russian literature that take competing positions as to Godunov's guilt in the murder of the little Prince. Pushkin, the greatest Russian poet, wrote a famed play called Boris Godunov that supports the version of Godunov's guilt.

A.K. Tolstoy (not to be confused with a much inferior Leo Tolstoy, the author of the vapid Anna Karenina and War and Peace), however, wrote a much better (in my opinion) play titled Tsar Boris where he suggests that Godunov was not to blame for killing the Prince. I was so impressed by these competing literary accounts that I wrote my first piece of literary criticism at the ripe old age of nine, comparing these two works of literature.

The myth of Boris Godunov, an upstart who ascends to the throne as a result of cunning and a murder of a prince of blood, is as much a mark of Russian bloody separation from the Middle Ages as the story of Richard III is of England's.

Now think about what's going on in the US today for a second. Are we not living through a very similar debate as to who is more worthy of ascending to the throne, Bush Jr., who inherited it or Obama, who forged his birth certificate? Oh, you don't think he forged it? Well, maybe Richard III and Boris Godunov didn't kill anybody either. Maybe a painful entrance into modernity is always accompanied by a debate about whether inheriting power is more legitimate than ascending to power through one's own efforts. Maybe it always involves questioning whether "the upstart" has usurped power through a crime against the true, royal blood.


Anonymous said...

Obama did not forge his birth certificate. The McCain campaign checked that allegation, and found it false. The attorney general of Hawaii for the last four years was a conservative Republican, if he had thought that the birth certificate was forged or that the officials in Hawaii were lying about it, he could have taken action--but he didn't.

Obama has shown the official and only birth certificate that Hawaii issues, and THREE Republican officials have confirmed the facts on it.


1) There were notices of Obama’s birth in the newspapers in Hawaii in 1961 (and those were not ads. The newspapers did not accept birth notice ads in 1961. They only took their notices from the department of vital records, which did not issue notices unless there was proof of birth in Hawaii [They did NOT accept "walk in" birth registrations.]).

2) If a child were born in any other country than the USA, she or he would need a US visa or to be entered on the mother’s US passport in order to be allowed to enter the USA. If such a document existed for Obama, it would have to have been applied for, and the files of the applications for it would still exist–and NO SUCH DOCUMENT HAS BEEN FOUND.

Also, Obama's Kenyan grandmother NEVER said that he was born in Kenya. This is a birther lie caused by deliberately cutting the tape before she was asked the question "where was he born?" She answered that question by saying Hawaii repeatedly, and stressing "where his father was studying at the time." And, in another interview, she said that the first that her family in Kenya had heard of Obama's birth was in a LETTER FROM HAWAII.

Clarissa said...

I know that birthers are idiots, and Obama didn't forge his birth certificate!

But thanks for the intelligent argument you presented anyways. It was a pleasure to read.

Anonymous said...

Re "idiots"

I saw this posted on another site:

I agree with you that most birthers are bat-shit crazy.

But what is the motive of the professional birthers who keep repeating the lies?

Like the lie that said that Obama’s Kenyan grandmother said that he was born in Kenya–when she actually said repeatedly in the taped interview that he was born in Hawaii and in another interview that the first that her family had heard of Obama’s birth was in a letter from Hawaii.

What is the MOTIVE of someone who has a site that keeps repeating the lie and never mentions that the complete tape recording shows that she repeatedly said “Hawaii” and another interview said that her family had found out about the birth from a letter from Hawaii?

What is the motive of professional birther sites that ignore the following obvious fact:

If a child were born in any other country than the USA, she or he would need a US visa or to be entered on the mother’s US passport in order to be allowed to enter the USA. If such a document existed for Obama, it would have to have been applied for, and the files of the applications for it would still exist–and NO SUCH DOCUMENT HAS BEEN FOUND.

Is the motive just crazy? Or, is it evil?

End quote

It seems to me that there are some idiots among the birthers, but that there are some who damn well know that Obama could not have been born in any other place than Hawaii, and yet they keep spewing their lies. What is their motive?

Pagan Topologist said...

I have a recording of a song about Richard III/Henry VII some where. If I can figure out a way to do it, I will send it to you. I remember the line "Henry the Seventh he'd never be/'Til Richard the Third was dead."

Pagan Topologist said...

I found it! Look on Amazon under Gwydion Pendderwen. He has one CD apparently soon to be available. It includes the contents of both of the tapes he released in his lifetime. I have both tapes, but not the CD. The song, naturally enough, is "The Ballad of Richard III."

Clarissa said...

Oh, Thank you so much!!! I collect everything that has to do with the topic and I had no idea about this ballad.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Pagan Topologist said...

You are welcome! I hope you enjoy all the songs, if you buy the whole set.

NancyP said...

Watch out, Clarissa. You are catching the dread disease wingnuttia from your students and off-campus environment.

Hint: do not believe anything that is broadcast by Fox cable or radio without checking it against Snopes, journalism and media criticism blogs, international journalists covering the US, NPR,.... AND YOUR OWN SHITE DETECTOR.

NancyP said...

Why does a person spread as fact items that they KNOW are false?

1. The origins of false claims are usually unclear, and thus the spreader can deny lying (...but I heard it on Glenn Beck...).

2. They believe that a large percentage of the public will either swallow the lie whole or have nagging doubts. In other words, they believe that other people are stupid.

3. They believe that they are the elite stuck in a democracy, and that the public must be told lies in order to manipulate their votes toward elite interests. (Leo Strauss, with a debt to Plato).

4. Ordinary rules and concepts of personal honor do not apply to them when they deal with "non-elite" people.

5. They stand to make some money or gain political influence if target X is discredited.

6. The act of lying is pleasant to them.

Clarissa said...

"You are catching the dread disease wingnuttia from your students and off-campus environment."

-Because I'm interested in the story of Richard III???

If anybody started to think that I believe the lies about Obama not being born in the US, then you are wrong. I don't believe them. Birthers are all crazy.

I am, however, still very much interested in the truth about Richard II and Boris Godunov. Both of whom do not get covered much by Fox News. That I know of, of course.

Anonymous said...

This is one of your best post.


Clarissa said...

Thank you, my friend! I think so too. I hoped for a much greater response with it. But even my own husband think this is weird and far-fetched.

Anonymous said...

You mixed personnal anecdote, expectation/suspense and humour in your post, and it all culminates in a thought-provoking observation. What else can I say? This is a extremely weel crafted piece of writing.


Clarissa said...

I am now actively blowing kisses in your general direction.

When will we finally find ourselves working at the same school? It needs to happen! The field would benefit greatly, and so will the students.