Glenn Greenwald has this post on the “Don’t Speak Ill of the Recently Departed,” regarding the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher this morning at age 87.
This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power. “Respecting the grief” of Thatcher family’s members is appropriate if one is friends with them or attends a wake they organize, but the protocols are fundamentally different when it comes to public discourse about the person’s life and political acts. I made this argument at length last year when Christopher Hitchens died and a speak-no-ill rule about him was instantly imposed (a rule he, more than anyone, viciously violated), and I won’t repeat that argument today; those interested can read my reasoning here.
Greenwald brings up the “week-long tidal wave of unbroken reverence” for Ronald Reagan when he died in 2004, but also mentions how these tributes seem to be reserved for those well-known political figures of the West. In contrast, Greenwald notes, many commentators did not waste time to get in their two cents worth of trashing the trashy Hugo Chavez when he died.
And I know exactly what he is talking about. Back in 1994, it was another week-long barf-fest when war criminal and central bankster Richard Nixon died. On the TV they had commentary by various people then doing political commentary, news and talk shows (during the days in which I was still watching TV, that is), and there were the alleged known “liberals,” really talking about Nixon as though he were some sort of saint.
But what if a President or foreign leader is a war criminal? Should we praise, for example, George H.W. Bush when he dies? He started a totally unnecessary war against Iraq in 1991, as I wrote here.
Some people actually don’t believe that the war the elder Bush started was a criminal act, even though it was a war of aggression, which, as defined during the Nuremberg tribunal, is a war crime. You don’t start wars.
The senior Bush’s military under his command intentionally destroyed Iraqi civilian water and sewage treatment centers, which not only led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, but widespread anti-American sentiment, which was very much to do with the motivations for the 9/11 attacks. And then there were the younger Bush’s wars overseas for no good reason, and the police state those two gave us. Had the elder Bush not started the war against Iraq in 1991 and begun a whole new phase of expanded U.S. government military bases and other governmental apparatus in those areas of the world, we wouldn’t have had a 9/11, these damn wars, the deaths of millions in those countries, and the domestic police state and U.S. government near-bankruptcy we have now.
And, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out in the article linked above, Margaret Thatcher was also vital in getting that 1991 war on Iraq going, and for no good reason.
Sorry, but that is not worthy of “praise.” No R.I.P., no respect is deserved for war criminals.
Now, for those who disagree with me, and believe that we should give either of the Bush Presidents some kind of “praise” or “respect” when one or both die, then you do not believe in morality, and would have to be suggesting that just because someone holds some high office, that therefore he should be excused for criminal behavior (or because he was a Republican).