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The Queen's Passing and the US Media: Reflections From a Lowercase 'R' Republican

Luis Martinez-Fernandez on

Hispanic Heritage Month has just begun; it's a busy time for me. This time of year, I receive numerous invitations for media interviews, public speaking and other projects.

But earlier this week, I got an unexpected media request. A reporter from my local (Orlando, Florida) CBS affiliate wanted to know my thoughts on online criticism of the British Crown following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

My first reaction was to say no: "I will have to pass (as in declining)," I responded, "for the following reason: I am anti-monarchical to the bone and would not have anything nice to say either about the monarchy or its relations with former colonies. It is not a good time to rain on the Queen's funeral procession."

The reporter must have found my answer odd, but being good at his job, he tried again, insisting that the channel was interested in representing all perspectives. I agreed to a Zoom interview later that day.

I watch a lot of news on TV, mostly CNN and MSNBC, occasionally clicking on Fox. It is interesting that Queen Elizabeth's death has united those disparate media in an apparent burst of Anglophilic monarchism.

Coverage has been incessant and almost completely laudatory, bordering on servility, as if we were still British subjects. I am not trying to be disrespectful of Her Majesty the Queen, her grieving family and her mourning subjects. I actually admire the United Kingdom and its highly civilized people -- pork pie and soccer hooliganism aside. But I found it troubling that reporters, correspondents and commentators (Americans in particular) have showered, nonstop, exaggerated praise on the Queen on American TV. The coverage's main mantra: "Oh, her sense of duty"; "She has dedicated her entire life to service," yada, yada, yada.

What about this for duty and service? A "plebian" American or English woman, who works hard (and long hours) as a teacher or factory worker; she takes public transportation -- is not chauffeured back home in a Bentley or Rolls-Royce.

Her second shift begins immediately: she must prepare the family dinner, something quick and unsophisticated (macaroni and cheese or a meatloaf) -- no special French-trained chefs nor delicacies from Fortnum & Mason (est. 1707).

Then she must help her children with schoolwork -- no affected tutors or exclusive boarding schools. Finally, when everybody else is sleeping, our commoner takes a quick shower -- no servant attendants nor cloud-soft towels from Mitre Linen (est. 1946) -- and goes to sleep in a bed whose replacement is long overdue -- definitely not a Canadian handmade Hypnos bed.

There is no real vacation at the end of the school year. Our generic teacher takes a summer job just to make ends meet and perhaps buy a new mattress -- no trip to Balmoral Palace to rest and play with dogs and horses.

 

Tell me who deserves the highest praise for sense of duty, service and dedication. Who deserves a crown?

Why are Americans and the U.S. media so enamored with the British monarchy, from which we broke in 1776? Why such awfully laudatory news coverage? I even heard TV commentators praise the new King's humanity for shedding a tear in public and accepting an embrace from a stranger in the street. What was he supposed to do -- push her back into the crowd?

Not just the United States but all Latin American countries fought for their independence, putting an end to oppressive monarchical rule and establishing republican forms of government. We should find monarchical rule offensive. We don't believe in the monarchs' divine right to rule, so why do we see them as if they had it?

We are citizens (citoyens), not subjects. Thank goodness for Thomas Jefferson's and Ben Franklin's Francophilia.

We claim to believe that all men (and women) are created equal, and tell our children, with some level of honesty, that they can grow up to be president. Constitutionally, the United States cannot grant titles of nobility; nor can anyone holding office accept one. We do not have a House of Lords and a House of Commons.

So why have the U.S. media and the American public displayed such a monarchist spectacle? Is this yet another manifestation of our retreat from democratic rule? Is it that we crave a sense of national unity and stability?

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Luis Martinez-Fernandez is the author of "Revolutionary Cuba: A History" and "Key to the New World: A History of Early Colonial Cuba." Readers can reach him at LMF_Column@yahoo.com. To find out more about Luis Martinez-Fernandez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www. creators.com.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

 

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