The Key to American Exceptionalism: It’s not what you think it is
Fresh off a full day at my daughter’s house celebrating her 22nd birthday and indulging in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie marathon which was one of her birthday wishes, my thoughts returned to the genius of Walt Disney and his foresight to create the original ride of which that film series is based in his Disneyland amusement park so many years ago. This love of pirate lore has deep roots in American society and for good reason, because pirates are one of America’s parents, and to understand America, you have to understand the role that a pirate plays in the process.
Before indulging in that deep abyss of psychological exploration all one must do to witness the world as it always has been before rebellions of courage have lashed out against tyrannical static patterns of thought, the current Obama administration displays clearly why I have always considered it more important to teach my kids about the value of piracy than the importance of getting a doctorate in medicine, or political science. Because to me, the thieves, the scallywags, and the politicians of this world are those who seek to control others through rules and regulation and they should be fought as an enemy to individuality. President Obama to date has been the worst, yet best example of what such thieves and looters are capable of and why the world should run in the opposite direction of such moochers and social parasites.
Walt Disney knew what few people were ready to acknowledge when he designed Disneyland, then his much larger theme park Disney World. When I was a kid, I marveled at how Disney got away with having a theme ride about rapists, terrorists, and drunken bastards robbing and looting in an aimless life, and placed that ride within a very short walk from the Liberty Tree in Liberty Square as if both sections of his park were equal in some way. I always felt that Walt Disney was trying to tell people something important. Even though he sold the Disney image with Cinderella Castle there was something under the covers he wanted to instruct every American alive of the importance, and the sign posts are everywhere in Walt Disney World.
This became very evident to me about a decade ago when I was at Disneyworld with my wife and most of her family. The Park had closed except to employees and their families at 9 PM after the light parade, so for the next two hours the whole park was ours, since my niece was an employee at the time. So my wife, daughters my niece and two nephews went on a quest of adventure those next two hours that cleared up the whole problem for me. We had free access to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, before Disney reinvented it with the film franchise, and the ghost of Walt Disney spoke to me as we rode that ride 8 times in a row from 9 PM till 10 PM. The line was so short we had it virtually to ourselves. We could get off, get back in line and do it again almost immediately. After 4 times in a row the employees let us just stay in the boat and continue on for the next 4 times.
At this time I was reading a book I knew populated the libraries of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams with considerable respect, and I knew that it was a key to the wording of the American Constitution. It was also the book that created the very first libel law suit in the history of mankind, so the Founding Fathers being interested in the laws of England were very much aware of its importance. The book was called The Buccaneers of America written by Alexander O. Exquemelin who served under Henry Morgan’s command on those Buccaneer exploits that took place on the Caribbean oceans of the 1670’s. Morgan was a privateer serving the kind of England with the profits from his loot in raiding the Spanish and their hold on Central America. To England, Morgan was a privateer. To every other nation Morgan was a bloodthirsty pirate. Since the King of England Charles II was becoming very wealthy under Morgan’s exploits the English Jamaican colony town of Port Royal was left alone from the long arm of English law and the Governor of Jamaica gave Henry Morgan free rein to do as he pleased. This was the birth of freedom, even though the results often ended in prostitution, drunken orgies, and other decadence, freedom from the laws of kings began in this small Jamaican port.
Well, another important figure to the foundation of the United States also played a part in all this. The very young John Locke who was serving as Secretary of the Board of Trade and Plantations for Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury a very close confidant to the king. Locke was in a unique position to see how the behavior in the far away land of Jamaica influenced the politics of England to the highest rank. What Locke learned in these observations became the Two Treatises of Civil Government which Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would use to modal the Declaration of Independence after. You see, John Locke became a philosopher based on all these observations, the most pivotal in America history up to that point, because John Locke and the exploits of Henry Morgan occurred a hundred years before the American Revolution and set the foundation of thought that would become America. The seeds of rebellion had been planted by Locke and nurtured along by patriots like Sam Adams and Thomas Paine. But the ship that carried the seed for Locke to plant was Henry Morgan.
After Charles the II died, England sought to make peace with the French, Spanish and Dutch, so English heroes like Morgan were suddenly cast into the light of piracy and were hunted down for crimes that just a few short years ago made them wealthy. Fortune hunters who sought to live the “pirate’s life” of Morgan took to the seas and found themselves bandits as the governments of the world outlawed the practice of privateering.
But the new world of America had attracted all the adventurers and discontent of the world’s countries, many of them coming to America to settle in the various pirate towns, such as New York, and especially New Orleans to be free of people like Obama’s contemporaries, they were every bit as alive and well back then let me assure you. Pirate captains like Black Sam Bellamy continued on in the tradition of Henry Morgan for as long as they could. Politics being the nature of static patterns attacked the dynamic social patterns of the pirates by settling the new world themselves, and buffering out the effect of the wild outlaws who occupied this strange new world called America.
But some men, the raw adventurers who would rather die than lose their freedom, even if it was the chains of hell itself they fought against continued to pillage and plunder long after the laws of civilization had pulled tight the noose of control. This is precisely the same pattern that occurred in the American West. Politicians used the adventurous spirit of its wild and wooly class to settle the frontier. Then once the blood of their enemies had been shed they turned on the adventurous and killed them. This is how Black Beard came to be. Black Beard just thirty to forty years prior would have been a hero for England. But in 1718, he was an enemy to the world because he refused to acknowledge the laws of politicians, and proved far too difficult to socially control.
The great classic movie The Buccaneer with Charlton Heston playing Andrew Jackson and Yul Brynner playing Jean Lafitte was about the unholy alliance between Jackson who teamed up with the pirate of New Orleans in Lafitte to fight off the English in the War of 1812. Jackson wisely used the unpredictable static patterns of the pirates around New Orleans to defeat handedly the English troops who occupied the city. Did you not know that Mardi Gras was brought to Louisiana by early French settlers and the rituals of wearing masks and bringing single women to elaborate masked balls was started by the French pirates and prostitutes of New Orleans?
This is why Walt Disney recreated a New Orleans town to place his new ride Pirates of the Caribbean into at the very first Disneyland. Being a natural patriot, who had dropped out of high school, and never had any formal education of any kind, Disney had taught himself, and this is what made him a unique thinker. Disney obviously loved The Buccaneer movie, but during that same period of time the great classic novel called Atlas Shrugged came out, in 1957. In that classic book one of the key characters is the pirate Ragnar Danneskjöld who serves as one of the three main protagonist’s who raids and loots the “looters” of society. In the case of Atlas Shrugged the “looters” were politicians like Obama in the very first clip. Ragnar stole back from the politicians the loot they plundered from those who had originally earned the money. There is no question that Ragnar’s character in Atlas Shrugged, Yul Brynner’s adaption of Lafitte in The Buccaneer, and the many stories of Henry Morgan and how the Founding Father’s adored Morgan and his band of Pirates led to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. So as I was reading at the time of traveling down that boat ride for the sixth and seventh times that night the words of Exquemelin and Locke were clearly written on everything I was looking at.
In those two short years, 1957 with Atlas Shrugged, then in 1958 with The Buccaneer the static pattern of the pirate as a villain, as depicted in Captain Hook, or Captain Flint was suddenly shattered and a new way to look at piracy emerged, which was not shaped on Christian values of morality, but on the true intentions of the human soul. This is why the Disney ride is so popular, and why the movies are so enjoyable.
This is also why pirates are the keys to understanding what America was supposed to be, and what it still can be. This is also why films like Pirates of the Caribbean, and books like Atlas Shrugged are absolute keys to dusting off American Excepetionalism and becoming once again what we were in the beginning, when freedom was an idea created on a pirate ship, written down by a surgeon, witnessed by a philosopher, studied by revolutionaries, and translated for us by artists. It is why we root for blood thirsty killers like Jessie James even though publicly we chastise them. Deep in our hearts we know that the key to our inner desires is to not fall in line with what society tells us to do. The key is to cast off the control of the politicians and their rules, their laws, their meager attempts to control human beings as though they were cattle. The key to American Exceptionalism is in being…..well exceptional……exceptionally free, and living with a passion to protect that freedom, at any and all cost.
We like pirates and outlaws because they have the courage to question the rules that bind the human soul. We may call them unholy, unethical, unpatriotic, but deep inside we call them bandits and mean it as the highest compliment. I have yet to meet a man and especially a woman who doesn’t love a bandit in their lives whether they admit it in the light of day or not. Because the bandit seeks freedom as the highest goal, and adventure is but the vehicle that takes them to their destination. It is the rest of the world who watches in envy as those with courage take their freedom and live each hour of the day by the fruit of their valor. For the rest, they just watch Pirates of the Caribbean and fantasize about a world they could have lived, if only they weren’t such gullible fruitcakes with one foot already in their coffins.
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