I spent a couple of weeks in America last June-July and posed a dare on my Facebook. I said that I would sing God Save the Queen at the heart of the capital, Washington D.C., on the Fourth of July, if I got enough likes. Although I did not get enough likes, I still decided to go ahead anyway. After all, it’s not exactly something which most tourist would have boast of having done.
So overnight, with some craft supplies from Walmart, I managed to hastily sketch out my crudely made poster and made my way to the Capitol.
Naturally I felt like a bull’s eye had been painted on my forehead walking around Washington DC with such a “controversial” poster. (Although along the way to the metro a passing driver flashed me a thumbs up.)
It was a nerve-racking ordeal to say the least. Protests are virtually unthinkable in Singapore and here I was, in the middle of a foreign nation, attempting to do a demonstration of one.
So anyway I did make my way to the capitol, holding my sign all the way there. I climbed up one flight of stairs towards the Capitol Building, thinking of singing at the top of it. However I was really nervous and it took me a while to gather my courage. In the mean time, amusingly, two people have already asked to take pictures with me holding up my GSTQ poster, which I obliged.
However a capitol police spotted me and went up to speak to me. He was really quite polite and asked me where I was from and what was I doing exactly. It was at this point where I got a bit confused. What exactly was I doing? I’m not really a protester, it’s not like I am protesting for a genuine cause, I’m more like… a troll? So I just explained that I was put to a dare to do this and that I was really from Singapore and the capitol police was somewhat amused but told me that I could not stand at the top of the flight of steps.
So I came down and went to the plaza in front of the Capitol and sat at the corner of the fountain holding up my poster. It was truly amazing how many people wanted to take pictures with the random Asian dude carrying a God Save the Queen poster. An Indian lady, with her family no doubt, came to me and spoke in a very heavy English accent saying that what I was doing was so hilarious because it’s the Fourth of July and all and she’s also from England. So we took a picture and I told her that I am from Singapore which is a part of the commonwealth, etc. Anyway she wished me well on my dare and went on her way.
Along the way I got a couple of rather amusing exchange with some people who approached me. Here are three of them:
First, some guys come up to me and ask:
“Why should God save the Queen?”
Me: “God saves everyone. That includes the Queen doesn’t it?”
“Oh yeah sure, I just thought there was some particular reason for the Queen.”
Me: “The Queen is the ruler of England and she would need special graces to govern the Kingdom no?”
“Well yeah, you have a good one.”
Me: “You too.”
Then another capitol police officer comes up to me and says:
“Do you do this every year?”
Me: “No, I’m not from around here, I’m from Singapore.”
“So what’s this about?”
Me: “It’s sort of a dare really, I’m supposed to sing God save the Queen. But I think America would be better off under the British.”
Me: “Well, the tax rates were much lower under King George III and it’s kinda ironic if you think about it that now your government taxes you more than the King ever did.”
“I agree man.” :S
Me: “Also in the declaration of independence the Americans protested that the British kept standing armies in the colonies during peace time, now the Americans keep standing armies everywhere else in the world.”
“That’s true.” 😀
Finally a Latin American family comes up to me and asks me what it was about:
Me: “I think America would have been better under the British.”
“Why? We can’t go back now, even the Queen today doesn’t really have any power.”
Me: “I am not really making a practical point, just to provoke some historical questions.”
[After giving the usual tax rate stuff]
Me: Also, the British parliament abolished slavery by legislation in 1833, the Americans had to fight a war in 1861. If America had been under the British they would have abolished slavery sooner and without a war.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right.”
To digress a little, I am rather amused by how easy it is to convince Americans of the wisdom of remaining a British colony.
All I simply have to do is mention “slavery” and they seem to instinctively cave in. They can dispute my tax rate and occupational forces argument, but the minute I mention the British abolition of slavery by legislation throughout the dominion in 1833 versus the American civil war in the 1860s, they virtually automatically surrender the point. For after I returned from America and spoke to an American expat in Singapore, he also conceded the slavery point.
It seems like the guilt of slavery has been so thoroughly ingrained into their psyche that they would even concede to British monarchical rule and deny the legitimacy of their very national existence if it would but cleanse them of this historic guilt.
I just find that rather amusing.
So anyway, to continue, a group of tourists came to me and enthusiastically told me that they were Canadians, and how awesome I was for doing what I was doing, cheered God save the Queen with me, and took pictures with me. An idea came to me that it might be better for me to sing my dare with actual subjects of the British dominion and I asked them if they would be willing to help me fulfil my dare by taking a video of me singing the song and joining me in it. They sportingly agreed and this video is the product. (Be warned though, I went out of tune tune at the start and forgot the words at the end.)
I took a couple more pictures with random passer-bys, including some military personnel in uniform. Sometimes when people flashed me a grin or a thumbs up I would reply, “God save the Queen!” (I did that to an old couple carrying a umbrella with the Union Jack printed on it and he gave a very English “Indeed!” in reply.)
I stayed at the Capitol from the late morning all the way to the evening, although I did take a short break for lunch. However when I returned from my lunch a different capitol police officer approached me asking, haven’t I been here the whole day already? Not sure if I should be worried that the entire capitol police seems to be aware of my existence. The odd thing is that whenever they asked me what it was about, I really did not know what to say. Not sure whether to begin a discussion of history or just go with the made to do a dare angle. More often than not, I ended up with the dare angle.
Anyway, overall, it was a rather enjoyable experience and I had a lot of fun. Maybe next time I’ll drag another friend along to do this with me next year. 🙂
So anyway, God save the Queen! God bless the Commonwealth! And may God judge those treasonous American traitors!