You all know the tale by Hans Christian Anderson. I have recently discovered the lost chapter and conclusion to this tale. It always seemed to be missing something, as the tale ended with the emperor behaving as if no betrayal had occurred. This is not possible, of course. It is to be expected that when a subject points out something the emperor wants hidden – even if it is something hidden in plain sight – punishment is swift, and sure to follow.
Before I get to the lost chapter, perhaps a few highlights from the original story are in order – just for a refresher. We all know that this famous emperor loved his clothes very much. He would have a new coat for every hour of the day. He was so enamored with his appearance that he was easy prey for two swindlers who came to town:
They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid.
"Those would be just the clothes for me," thought the Emperor. "If I wore them I would be able to discover which men in my empire are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise men from the fools.
The swindlers, after receiving a substantial down-payment, went to work. They stuffed the fabric they bought into their bag, and went to work on the looms…without fabric.
The emperor, wanting to know how things were coming along, sent his most honest minister to check on the progress:
So the honest old minister went to the room where the two swindlers sat working away at their empty looms. "Heaven help me," he thought as his eyes flew wide open, "I can't see anything at all". But he did not say so.
Of course, he did not want to admit this as he might then be thought unfit for office. The swindlers, knowing this would be the reaction, worked to reinforce the minister’s blindness:
"Don't hesitate to tell us what you think of it," said one of the weavers. "Oh, it's beautiful -it's enchanting." The old minister peered through his spectacles. "Such a pattern, what colors!" I'll be sure to tell the Emperor how delighted I am with it."
The minister dutifully reported to the emperor, who was delighted. More funds were advanced, as the work was progressing wonderfully.
After some time, the emperor sent another minister in order to check the further progress:
The same thing happened to him that had happened to the minister. He looked and he looked, but as there was nothing to see in the looms he couldn't see anything.
Of course, not wanting to admit that he saw nothing and might therefor be deemed unworthy of office, he could not admit this:
He declared he was delighted with the beautiful colors and the exquisite pattern. To the Emperor he said, "It held me spellbound."
By this time, the new clothes were the talk of the town – everyone just knew that the new coat would be the most splendid coat ever made. They also knew that only the unfit could not see it, due to the special fabric from which the coat was made.
The emperor next went to see the progress, along with his two ministers and a host of other advisors:
He found them weaving with might and main, but without a thread in their looms. "Magnificent," said the two officials already duped. "Just look, Your Majesty, what colors! What a design!" They pointed to the empty looms, each supposing that the others could see the stuff.
"What's this?" thought the Emperor. "I can't see anything. This is terrible! Am I a fool? Am I unfit to be the Emperor? What a thing to happen to me of all people! - Oh! It's very pretty," he said. "It has my highest approval." And he nodded approbation at the empty loom. Nothing could make him say that he couldn't see anything.
His whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but they all joined the Emperor in exclaiming, "Oh! It's very pretty," and they advised him to wear clothes made of this wonderful cloth especially for the great procession he was soon to lead.
Finally, the clothes were finished. The swindlers dressed the emperor, in preparation for the procession through town:
The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn't dare admit they had nothing to hold.
Even the townspeople were afraid to admit they could not see the clothes:
Everyone in the streets and the windows said, "Oh, how fine are the Emperor's new clothes! Don't they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!" Nobody would confess that he couldn't see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool.
Until, one boy, with courage, spoke out:
"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said. "Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?" said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, "He hasn't anything on. A child says he hasn't anything on."
The townspeople joined in chorus:
"But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last.
This did not stop the emperor:
The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.
And so ends the known portion of the tale by Hans Christian Anderson. I must say, this ending is not believable. Please consider: the emperor, his ministers, other trusted advisors, townspeople including shopkeepers and the local newsmen and many in the general public, all privately and publicly went along with the fiction of the invisible clothes. They then had to suffer humiliation at the hands of one little boy who said no – it is a lie.
Would the emperor really go on as if nothing happened – no condemnation or punishment for the swindlers? No beating for the boy? Would the ministers and the rest just sit back calmly, as if to say “well, the boy is right. Let’s go have a beer.”?
No, I could never believe this. And now I have evidence – the lost chapter:
After the procession, the emperor called the ministers for a meeting. “It cannot stand that we remain so embarrassed.” I said I was clothed; you all said I was clothed; my best advisors said I was clothed; the weavers said I was clothed. Now here comes a boy, saying I was naked! We must make an example of him.
Of course, the emperor hardly had to give any instruction – every member of his staff as well as the key shopkeepers and newsmen also shared in the lie, and therefore in the embarrassment. Once word went out that the emperor was upset, they all went to work.
The so-called wise men were exposed as the fools that they were. Hell hath no fury like a gatekeeper scorned. Every possible means was found to discredit the boy. The anger was palpable. The entire community rose up against the boy, because they knew that it wasn’t only the emperor that was naked – every minister, advisor, shopkeeper, newsman, and even common citizen was exposed for the lying degenerate that he was.
They could not allow themselves to be buried with their lie. So they decided to bury the boy.
The boy’s name was Edward Snowden.
Inspired by “The Sickening Snowden Backlash,” by Kirsten Powers