Twitter is ABUZZ! with people laughing at actor/controversialist/superglue victim James Woods and his HILARIOUS! attempt to DE-GHETTO-IZE! a quote from Omar Little, the Robin-Hood-esque gangster on The Wire. Regarding the Mueller Report, Woods wrote:
“If you try to kill the King, you better not miss.”
When Everybody Knows! that Omar said,
“You come at the king, you best not miss.”
How could Woods be so ILLITERATE?
As you can see from the screenshot, Twitter thought this was important enough to make a “Featured Story”. Naturally, it caused me to grit my teeth, because both Omar and Woods are quoting an older source. I’ll let these folks explain:
It’s a line that stands out because it sounds badass. But it’s also a reference to something less than totally badass, a response Ralph Waldo Emerson sent future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes over a collegiate attempt to refute the supremacy of Plato’s classification of ideas. “When you strike at a king,” Emerson, then a 60-year-old Unitarian minister, famously wrote, “you must kill him.”
I’m fairly certain Emerson is not the original source for this thought, however. We see it in Shakespeare and in Greek tragedy. It is dangerous to challenge power and to fail in the attempt; ask anyone who observed the Year Of The Four Emperors. With that said, I object to the idea that ol’ Ralph Waldo was “less than totally badass”. He possessed a clarity of thought and expression long gone from the modern conversation. I enjoyed reading him for the same reason I enjoy reading Samuel Johnson — the sense of arguments mustered, marshaled, and marched into battle. Emerson had what we used to call a masculine mind, before that became a slur. He was Thoreau’s superior because he rarely allowed himself to argue from emotion. That’s why we still hear about Walden long after most schools have banished Emerson from the rolls; Henry David’s loosely-constructed, frequently hypocritical, hugely self-centric mode of thinking suits our current cadre of pseudo-intellectuals far better.
There is a movie coming out in which a musician realizes that he is the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles. Naturally, he “writes” their songs and becomes famous as a result. Have all the old eighteenth-and-nineteenth-century thinkers become so obscure that we now ascribe their words to Omar Little? Oh well. Our “woke” culture came at the king — or, this being Easter, I should clarify that they came at the King of Kings — and they did not miss. Or did they?
This being the New York Auto Show Week, I wrote six separate and distinct articles for Hagerty. Check them all out here.