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Robin Hood Was a Tea Partier

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Posted on March 24 2011 4:12 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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In a recent post covering a forthcoming London protest by UK Uncut dubbed the “March for the Alternative,”  NRB’s Michelle Horstman introduced us to the Robin Hood Tax. It’s pretty much what it sounds like, a proposal to seize wealth from banks and redistribute it to “fight poverty” and “tackle climate change.” UK Uncut has garnered much attention as of late for its unconventional protest tactics, which is to say its willingness to use force to disrupt lawful trade.

Obviously, the folks at UK Uncut and their allies regard themselves as modern day Merry Men. They are certainly willing to skirt the edge of the law in pursuit of their cause, a supposedly noble crusade on behalf of the downtrodden. However, it is likely that Robin Hood would not recognize these pretenders. In fact, the preponderance of evidence within the folklore suggests Robin Hood would identify more with the modern American Tea Party than any socialist.

Robin Hood’s quest is often simplified as “robbing from the rich to give to the poor.” That is certainly an apt summary of socialism. However, the full context of the folklore provides a more nuanced view.

Contemporary visions of Hood show him to be an outlaw only from the perspective of an illegitimate government. Hood does not steal from the “rich” arbitrarily. He targets those who have taken up with a usurper and directly profit from the pilfer of the masses. The treasonous Prince John persecutes his subjects for hunting “the King’s deer,” declaring all natural resources the property of the government. The people’s crops and wares are seized through taxation, leaving them cold and hungry. Hood works to restore the people’s capacity to provide for themselves. He does not do so singlehandedly or without cost to those he aids. He asks them to serve in the cause of their own freedom, even unto death. Also noteworthy is Hood’s eventual mediation between the classes. Hood has no malice toward the upper class, his class. Indeed, he acts in the name of King Richard the Lionheart. He acts to restore what is considered, in the context of his time and country, proper government. He becomes a hero and kin of both the people and their king. Given these qualities, does not Robin Hood seem more like a modern tea party patriot than a thieving advocate of socialism?

That blurb was written in 2009 before the release of Ridley Scott’s most recent take on the Prince of Thieves. In the 2010 film, Hood’s objective is clearer than in any other iteration, the establishment of “liberty by law.”

However, even if you exclude Scott’s Hood, it is difficult to argue that any iteration of the folk hero could accurately be summarized as a mere thief who “stole from the rich to give to the poor.” That is how his enemies described him, as a common outlaw. The whole appeal of the tale is that we know better. We know Hood to be a noble hero. We know Hood to be fighting for justice, defying a pretender. His use as a literary icon for the Left demonstrates either purposeful misrepresentation or a plain lack of comprehension.

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