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The American Sycophant
by [?]

Respect? Respect the good. Respect the wise. Respect the dead. Let the President look to it that he belongs to one of these classes. His going about the country in gorgeous state and barbaric splendor as the guest of a thieving corporation, but at our expense–shining and dining and swining–unsouling himself of clotted nonsense in pickled platitudes calculated for the meridian of Coon Hollow, Indiana, but ingeniously adapted to each water tank on the line of his absurd “progress,” does not prove it, and the presumption of his “great office” is against him.

Can you not see, poor misguided “fellow citizens,” how you permit your political taskmasters to forge leg-chains of your follies and load you down with them? Will nothing teach you that all this fuss-and-feathers, all this ceremony, all this official gorgeousness and brass-banding, this “manifestation of a proper respect for the nation’s head” has no decent place in American life and American politics? Will no experience open your stupid eyes to the fact that these shows are but absurd imitations of royalty, to hold you silly while you are plundered by the managers of the performance?–that while you toss your greasy caps in air and sustain them by the ascending current of your senseless hurrahs the programmers are going through your blessed pockets and exploiting your holy dollars? No; you feel secure; “power is of the People,” and you can effect a change of robbers every four years. Inestimable privilege–to pull off the glutted leech and attach the lean one! And you can not even choose among the lean leeches, but must accept those designated by the programmers and showmen who have the reptiles on tap! But then you are not “subjects;” you are “citizens”–there is much in that Your tyrant is not a “King;” he is a “President.” He does not occupy a “throne,” but a “chair.” He does not succeed to it by inheritance; he is pitchforked into it by the boss. Altogether, you are distinctly better off than the Russian mujik who wears his shirt outside his trousers and has never shaken hands with the Czar in all his life.

I hold that kings and noblemen can not breathe in America. When they set foot upon our soil their kingship and their nobility fall away from them like the chains of a slave in England. Whatever a man may be in his own country, here he is but a man. My countrymen may do as they please, lickspittling the high and mighty of other nations even to the filling of their spiritual bellies, but I make a stand for simple American manhood. I will meet no man on this soil who expects from me a greater deference than I could properly accord to the President of my own country. My allegiance to republican institutions is slack through lack of faith in them as a practical system of governing men as men are. All the same, I will call no man “Your Majesty,” nor “Your Lordship.” For me to meet in my own country a king or a nobleman would require as much preliminary negotiation as an official interview between the Mufti of Moosh and the Ahkoond of Swat. The form of salutation and the style and tide of address would have to be settled definitively and with precision. With some of my most esteemed and patriotic friends the matter is more simple; their generosity in concession fills me with admiration and their forbearance in exaction challenges my astonishment as one of the seven wonders of American hospitality. In fancy I see the ceremony of their “presentation” and as examples of simple republican dignity I commend their posture to the youth of this fair New World, inviting particular attention to the grand, bold curves of character shown in the outlines of the Human Ham.