[Disclaimer: I wrote this to get through a ridiculously slow 8-hour evening shift. If you have something better to do than reading this, go do it.]
I feel silly for even engaging myself in this discussion and almost annoyed at myself for even clicking on what I knew was going to frustrate me. I’ve previously posted about my thoughts on a couple of articles on Morocco World News. I wonder how I end up reading these articles to be honest. Today, I came across this one: “Shaking Hands with the King is not a Sign of Disrespect.” The article itself is in response to something that would be more fit for The Onion: “Bowing before the king is a sign of respect.”
I can’t, I just can’t. Here we are in one of the most pivotal moments in modern Moroccan history–a deteriorating economy, a regime that masks its authoritarian nature with liberalization, women continuously disenfranchised by laws embedded in a patriarchal and colonial history, a royal family gaining a vast amount of wealth at the expense of the population, consistent violation of freedom of expression in all its forms by the “justice” system–and an actual debate about what it means to bow to the king is taking place.
Let’s say that perhaps this debate is relevant and constructive, the initial article is so poorly framed, that the response gets sucked into this insanely pointless discussion. I actually shed a tear for every person who has ever effectively contributed to the Moroccan political discourse. Here’s an excerpt from my favorite part of the “Bowing before the king is a sign of respect” article:
We should not treat the king like any other person. The king is just a human being like us, and there is no doubt about it. However, a nation, no matter how civilized it is, should respect its leader. Sometimes, I wonder, “should we shake hands with the monarch as we do with our friends?” Of course, it does not work. A king must stay a king, and when one meets him, he or she must bow a little bit as a kind of respect.
How is this even real? He says we shouldn’t treat the king like any other person but then immediately makes like the claim that he is a “human being like us.” Well, which one is it? And if I’m reading this right, the author is suggesting that the only form respect is bowing. I wonder if the author applies this logic consistently by bowing to every person he respects. He then exhibits signs of panic and disarray when confronted with the alternative to bowing to the king:
What would the alternative be? How would those who call for protesting against kneeling, or bowing before the king deal with him were he to abolish all these rituals? Would they say, “Hi, buddy, how’s it going?” shaking hands with him?”
Um, why is that so hard to imagine? I don’t understand. If Moroccan taxpayers are paying for the upkeep of his palaces all over the country, in addition to his salary, why is it so difficult to imagine that a citizen would shake his hand instead of bow? I can’t even be bothered to deconstruct this article any further. Read it at your own risk.
Then, the author of “Shaking Hands with the King is not a Sign of Disrespect” has the patience to take the other guy seriously. Meanwhile, the Makhzen reacts as the debate unfolds: