Everyone has probably heard the Hans Christian Andersen story of “The
Emperor’s New Clothes.” As it happens there is a sequel to this story, which
has received little attention up until now.
For those unfamiliar with “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” a brief summary
is in order. “Once upon a time,” wrote Andersen, “there lived a vain Emperor
whose only worry in life was to dress in elegant clothes.”
As it turns out, the Emperor’s infatuation came to the attention of
the Russian and Chinese intelligence services, who devised an ingenious
deception. They sent out two spies named Ivanov and Wang, described by
Andersen as “two scoundrels.” These fellows convinced the Emperor that they
had invented a new fabric. They told his Royal Highness that “it is
invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its
quality.” For a large sum of money Ivanov and Wang agreed to make a special
suit of clothes, specially fitted for the Emperor, using this new fabric.
“The Emperor thought he had spent his money quite well,” wrote
Andersen. “In addition to getting a new extraordinary suit, he would discover
which of his subjects were ignorant and incompetent.”
The day came when the clothes were ready and the Emperor decided on a
royal procession to show them to the people. Everyone remarked on the beauty
and color of the Emperor’s new clothes — with one outstanding exception.
According to Andersen a child, “who had no important job and could only see
things as his eyes reported,” went up to the Emperor’s carriage and said, “The
Emperor is naked.”
This started a lively rumor, which the Emperor ignored. And there the
story ends, officially. But in reality this was only the beginning of a much
larger story, containing many important facts.
When the Emperor reached his palace after the procession, he learned
that the New York Times and Washington Post were about to run stories on his
nakedness. He quickly called the publishers and told them, in no uncertain
terms, that they would not be invited to official parties any longer if they
printed such “rubbish.”
So the stories were quashed.
Of course, a few sites on the Internet reported the nakedness of the
Emperor, but these sites were denounced by members of Congress from both
parties, who had already placed special orders with Ivanov and Wang. Even
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, concerned about a market meltdown, warned that
rumors of a naked Emperor could be economically devastating.
As you might expect, the imaginary clothing of Ivanov and Wang was
remarkably inexpensive to manufacture — which was a tremendous advantage for
business. Advertisers loved it too, since TV viewers remained glued to their
sets when anyone modeled the new clothing. The prospect of saving money on
winter uniforms was brought to the attention of the Pentagon, which placed
gigantic orders with Ivanov and Wang, who eventually grew so rich they bought
Microsoft and Columbia Pictures.
Planned Parenthood, not to be left out of things, advocated the
manufacture of condoms with the new fabric — which had obvious (if
imaginary) advantages in preventing the spread of AIDS. The National
Endowment for the Arts also authorized a grant of several millions for a new
work of art made of the material.
Leading Ivy League universities competed for billions in grants in
order to study the properties of the new fabric. Thousands of researchers,
academics and scientists were kept employed around the clock. A couple of
scientists did object, claiming the fabric was nonexistent. But their
funding was withdrawn and one of them actually changed his tune, admitting he
had slandered the wonderful new fabric out of meanness. (He was afterwards
The stock market did, indeed, climb out of sight due to the fabric’s
many spin-offs. Some analysts began talking about all of this as “the new
economy.” Priests, rabbis and ministers started using the new clothing in
place of more traditional vestments. Theologians even discussed whether or
not this was the same material used to make Jesus Christ’s robes.
Liberals insisted that people who lacked compassion could not see the
new fabric while conservatives claimed that liberals only pretended to see
it. Libertarians said the new fabric should not be taxed, while socialists
and leftists demanded the fabric be used in the making of clothes for the
Advocates of National Missile Defense claimed the wondrous new fabric
could be used to stop missiles fired from rogue nations.
There were still doubts about the fabric, however. An intelligence analyst went public with
information that Ivanov and Wang were members of a foreign criminal
organization. The analyst, of course, was fired from his job and ended up
working as a janitor in an elementary school (although radio host Michael
Savage had him on as a guest more than once).
In reaction to the new fabric, the Kremlin asked for IMF loans so that
atomic bomb factories could be converted into textile plants for the mass
production of this marvelous new product.
Two hundred years later, historians commented on these curious events.
They concluded that the Emperor’s new clothes were obviously real and not
imaginary, that the child who couldn’t see them was certainly no expert on
clothing and may have been retarded or insane. However, the historians also
reported that the secret of this revolutionary new fabric was lost to the
world due to the barbarian invasions that overwhelmed the Empire a few years
after the fabric appeared.