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Belmont Club

The Chicken Disses the Hat

August 2nd, 2012 - 1:52 am

That may be taking things too far, but it’s already halfway there.

I believe Ozersky is wrong when he thinks that the surge in Chick-fil-A’s patronage is due to the machinations of “Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, and a host of other Christianist culture warriors.”  The personages he mentioned were riding the wave, not creating it. That wave was largely the spontaneous reaction of a large segment of a public aroused because Emanuel’s action touched a nerve. History is like that. Great fires start from small sparks, as often happens when there is enough dry tinder on the ground.

The incident that marked the beginning of the “Arab Spring,” for example, was the event of “a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he reported was inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides. His act became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring, inciting demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia in protest of social and political issues in the country.”  Hundreds of vendors had been humiliated by the city hall before. But there’s always the one too many.

The Boston Tea Party is another historical parallel that comes to mind. The transformation of the 13 colonies from the king’s most loyal subjects to his most implacable enemies happened in a comparative blink of the eye. But the most instructive of all past emergent events is probably the curious affair of William Tell and the Landburger Gessler’s Hat:

The legend as told by Tschudi (ca. 1570) goes as follows: William Tell, who originally came from Bürglen, was known as a strong man and an expert shot with the crossbow. In his time, the Habsburg emperors of Austria were seeking to dominate Uri. Albrecht (or Hermann) Gessler, the newly appointed Austrian Vogt of Altdorf, raised a pole in the village’s central square, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the townsfolk bow before the hat. On 18 November 1307, Tell visited Altdorf with his young son and passed by the hat, publicly refusing to bow to it, and so was arrested. Gessler — intrigued by Tell’s famed marksmanship, yet resentful of his defiance — devised a cruel punishment: Tell and his son would be executed, but he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off the head of his son, Walter, in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a bolt from his crossbow.

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