31 January 2007
The Emperor has no clothes
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, with holes on his socks
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, with holes on his socks, is seen as he leaves from the Ottoman era Selimiye mosque in Edirne, western Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. Wolfowitz was in turkey for a-two-day official visit.
The Emperor's new clothes and The Emperor has no clothes are often used with allusion to Andersen's tale. Most frequently, the metaphor involves a situation wherein the overwhelming (usually unempowered) majority of observers willingly share in a collective ignorance of an obvious fact, despite individually recognizing the absurdity.
Many years ago there lived an emperor who was quite an average fairy tale ruler, with one exception: he cared much about his clothes. One day he heard from two swindlers named Guido and Luigi Farabutto that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they said, also had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position.
Being a bit nervous about whether he himself would be able to see the cloth, the emperor first sent two of his trusted men to see it. Of course, neither would admit that they could not see the cloth and so praised it. All the townspeople had also heard of the cloth and were interested to learn how stupid their neighbors were.
The emperor then allowed himself to be dressed in the clothes for a procession through town, never admitting that he was too unfit and stupid to see what he was wearing. For he was afraid that the other people would think that he was stupid.
Of course, all the townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said:
"But he has nothing on!"
This was whispered from person to person until everyone in the crowd was shouting that the emperor had nothing on. The emperor heard it and felt that they were correct, but held his head high and finished the procession.
Iqbal Latif (Ike)