It’s popular these days for conservatives to criticize the defender of the poor and the oppressed, Robin Hood. Hood, they say, is nothing more than a socialist pretending to be a hero. He is, if you will, Karl Marx with a bow and couple of arrows. He steels from the wealthy and gives to the poor. It’s socialism in action, or so many contemporary conservative commentators argue.
Although I understand it that conservatives automatically oppose all those who dare “redistribute wealth” (or appear to), they are sorely mistaken to do so with Hood. Dismissing him as a Marxist is ludicrous and counterproductive; the former because he is actually a very American (classically liberal and conservative) hero, the latter because the audience will sympathize with him regardless of the criticism.
Hood’s anger is directed at ruthless oppressors, who came to power not because the people voted them into office, but because they were of noble blood. There is no democracy and no freedom in Hood’s Britain. These people can do whatever they want to, because they are not accountable for their deeds.
Furthermore, their wealth isn’t based on hard work, entrepreneurship and innovation, but on theft. They didn’t work for it, nor did they earn it. They simply stole it from the people, all of whom are poor and oppressed, and who are trying to raise themselves up by their bootstraps only to be pushed down time and again by those in power.
One of the ways these oppressors steal from the citizenry is by levying high taxes. If that’s not a conservative and libertarian outlook on (the dangers of high) taxes, I don’t know what is. Progressives, on the other hand, have no problem with high taxes. Better yet, they believe that every single penny one earns actually belongs to the state. It is only by the grace of God that one is allowed to keep a specific amount (enough to live on).
If you look at these circumstances, Hood is quite right to take back the money these undemocratic rulers stole from their oppressed subjects. In effect, he’s not “robbing” anyone, as Big Hollywood’s Dan Gifford would have us believe, but simply giving back to the people that which was rightfully theirs in the first place.
By criticizing Hood conservatives are not turning the audience against the hero, but against themselves and their ideology. This while he actually embodies many of our beloved conservative ideals. Instead of attacking him, then, we have to claim him as one of ours – which he is.