Preparing to watch the latest Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood this past weekend, I was a little worried that Hollywood might twist the nature of the tale to make Robin Hood seem like a leftist. In modern politics, after all, the term “Robin Hood” has been applied almost uniformly to socialists. Barack Obama might be labeled “Robin Hood” politician, for example, because he robs the rich and redistributes their wealth to the poor. I have long considered this terminology blatantly erroneous.
Barack Obama is not Robin Hood. Leftists are not Robin Hoods. Robin Hood was a hero, whereas Barack Obama is no hero. While it is true that Robin Hood robbed the rich to feed the poor, one key distinction makes it relatively clear that Robin Hood was no leftist: Specifically, Robin Hood robbed government officials to give money back to the People. Barack Obama, by contrast, robs the People. Barack Obama is therefore more like the Sheriff of Nottingham, or perhaps like the state-empowered clerics who robbed the people in the name of morality and “charity” while lending their moral support to the cause of tyrants. Which role is it easier to imagine Barack Obama filling — the role of the statist enforcer who hauls some hardworking man away for failure to pay taxes and for eating the king’s deer, or the role of the vigilante who assaults the tax collector and leaves the government troops fleeing in terror?
Moreover, Robin Hood only rebels against illegitimate authority. Like the conservative and unlike the leftist, Robin Hood is generally portrayed as somewhat patriotic, a supporter of legitimate rule. I therefore wish people would never again apply the erroneous “Robin Hood” terminology to leftist socialists. If anything, we should refer to leftists as modern-day Prince Johns.
Fortunately, my fears about the latest Hollywood production amounted to nothing. This latest Robin Hood did not endorse leftist politics whatsoever and was actually rather good — although the plot did seem a little unorthodox compared to traditional versions (in ways I will not spoil here). Overall, the film communicated a positive and appropriate message, that rejection of unjust laws is virtue, and that tyranny and taxation can ruin a country.