May 04, 2007

Queen Elizabeth reflects

Queen Elizabeth in US for 400th anniversary of English pioneers"With the benefit of hindsight, we can see in that event the origins of a singular endeavor--the building of a great nation, founded on the eternal values of democracy and equality based on the rule of law and the promotion of freedom.

"But 50 years on we are now in a position to reflect more candidly on the Jamestown legacy. Human progress rarely comes without cost," the queen said.

"And those early years in Jamestown, when three great civilizations came together for the first time--Western European, Native American and African--released a train of events which continues to have a profound social impact, not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom and Europe."

But in her speech, the queen said historical reassessments should not "obscure" the epoch-making impact of the settlement, which brought English notions of law, democracy and free enterprise to the New World.
Comment:  The English brought democracy to the New World? You mean the dissidents, troublemakers, and opportunists who had nothing but their own aggrandizement in mind? Where did they get the notion of democracy from, since they left a near-absolute monarchy?

In Indians Gave Us Enlightenment, I quote Jack Weatherford on this point:The most consistent theme in the descriptions penned about the New World was amazement at the Indians' personal liberty, in particular their freedom from rulers and from social classes based on ownership of property. For the first time the French and the British became aware of the possibility of living in social harmony and prosperity without the rule of a king.Really, talking about Jamestown (or Plymouth) as a proto-democracy is ridiculous. These people were thousands of miles away from any established authority. What were they going to do...install another absolute monarch to rule over them? Small groups of people don't need kings and queens and aren't likely to put them into place.

The colonists didn't reject the idea of monarchy. They were firm believers in and supporters of the British crown for almost 200 years. Only when England began imposing taxes did the colonists begin to envision themselves as true democrats.

And even then, they allowed only white males with property to vote. That's a marked contrast with America's Indian tribes, where everyone had a voice and consensus was usually sought. Until American women got the right to vote in 1920, Indian societies were arguably more democratic than the US alternative.

For more on the subject, see Democracy Rocks--with Indian Help.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
But - but - but - Has anyone asked what Helen Mirren thought? Maybe an Academy Award will make her opinion all the more meaningful...
All Best
Russ Bates