When Lewis Carroll wrote “Alice in Wonderland,” he knew nothing about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But he knew about the insanity of power in the high places of his own culture.

As portrayed in the Disney film, the Queen of Hearts asks: “Who’s been painting my roses red? Who’s been painting my roses red? / Who dares to taint / With vulgar paint / The royal flower bed? / For painting my roses red / Someone will lose his head.”

The Card Painter responds: “Oh no, Your Majesty, please! It’s all ‘his’ fault!” The Ace blames the Deuce. The Deuce blames the three. The Queen explodes.

“That’s enough! Off with their heads! I warn you, child … if I lose my temper, you lose your head! Understand?”

The very thought of beheadings chills us to the bone. It would be hard to imagine a more horrifying spectacle than what we have recently seen of American journalists losing their heads in the Middle East. The fact that British and American citizens have joined ISIL is nearly as chilling as the killings themselves; we ask why one of us would dare “to taint with vulgar paint the royal flower bed.”


painting the roses red meaning
painting the roses red meaning