“I will send my faithful old wise man to the weavers,” said the Emperor at last. “He will be best able to see how the cloth looks. He is a man of sense. No one can be better for his job than he is.”
So the faithful old wise man went into the hall where the thieves were working with all their might at their empty looms. “What can be the meaning of this?” thought the old man, opening his eyes very wide. “I cannot find the least bit of thread on the looms.” However, he did not say his thoughts aloud.
What!” thought he again. “Is it possible that I am a fool? I have never thought so myself. No one must know it now if I am so. Can it be, that I am unfit for my job? No, the Emperor must not know that either. I will never tell that I could not see the stuff.”
“Well, Sir!” said one of the weavers still pretending to work. “You do not say whether the cloth pleases you.”
“Oh, it is excellent!” replied the old wise man, looking at the loom through his spectacles. “This pattern, and the colors, yes, I will tell the Emperor without delay, how very beautiful I think them.”
And the Emperor was told that the non-existent fashion suit was beyond spectacular. No General threw his rank on the table. Nor did the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor resign in the name of telling the truth. Nope. They rallied like a quintessential Greek Chorus and grunted their approval of demented Joe’s claims.
But this party does not last forever. The naked Emperor, convinced that his hallucination is reality, parades before the public:
“I am quite ready,” said the Emperor. He appeared to be examining his handsome suit.
The lords of the bedchamber, who were to carry his Majesty’s train felt about on the ground as if they were lifting up the ends of the mantle. Then they pretended to be carrying something for they would by no means want to appear foolish or not fit for their jobs.
The Emperor walked under his high canopy in the midst of the procession, through the streets of his capital. All the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, “Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor’s new clothes! What a magnificent train there is to the mantle; and how gracefully the scarf hangs!” No one would admit these much admired clothes could not be seen because, in doing so, he would have been saying he was either a simpleton or unfit for his job.
“But the Emperor has nothing at all on!” said a little child. “Listen to the voice of the child!” exclaimed his father. What the child had said was whispered from one to another. “But he has nothing at all on!” at last cried out all the people. The Emperor was upset, for he knew that the people were right. However, he thought the procession must go on now! The lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold, and the Emperor walked on in his underwear.
We are being governed by a senile Baghdad Bob. The point of Andersen’s fairy tale is not that the Emperor is a crazy man. He is. But his ability to do what he does is enabled by a horde of strap hangers more worried about keeping their sinecures than giving a damn about the welfare of the people they are supposed to serve.
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