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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bitter Taste

I am unusually sensitive to the passing of most any person.

Not only am I sentimental about death, but I feel, as Ben Bradlee once said upon the death of Ricard Nixon, his absolute bête noire, that everyone is entitled to a time of peace, at the moment of their death.

The hullabaloo of criticism or negativity, can wait.

When I noted the passing of Mrs. Coretta Scott King on my blog, I knew there would be moving, elegiac, and spirited services of remembrance the following days.

But what I wasn't expecting, was the disappointing display of barely quasi-political rhetoric, when she was lying in her coffin today in Georgia.

I've been to Baptist and Pentacostal services, so I have a good idea what they are like.

They certainly do not resemble what I am personally used to in my historionic Roman Catholic Church, but we share a love of the theatricality of religion, which other more sedate, Christian churches may not -- so I have that to go on.

But never did I expect this near orgiastic release of bile, that I witnessed today, for hours and hours around Mrs. King's coffin.

For all I know, the service is still going on now...

The Anchoress and others put it perfectly when today's vituperative displays were likened to Senator Paul Wellstone's service of remembrance, after he perished tragically in a plane crash, nearly 4 years ago.

It is important to note that Senator Wellstone could have been the most purely left-leaning senator of his day. Unlike Senators Kerry and Kennedy, he didn't live the high-flying life they did, and thus had the authenticity of background to give his words weight to his supporters.

But you can be sure that when a similar fate befell Senator John Heinz III of Pennsylvania (also a Democrat) in 1991, that his funeral did not devolve into a slanging match to see who could get in the most digs against then-President Bush 41.

The reason is that from 1991 to 2002, something changed in America.

Far from being a Party that was down and out, as anticipated by the Vietnam generation, the Republicans had made incremental wins their road to capturing back the White House.

This is not just a political, or ideological battle. It was a battle for the hearts and minds of Americans, in their most fundamental beliefs.

The Presidency of George W. Bush was deemed a slap to their collective face, as people stared incomprehensively at an America they did not run, they did not guide, whose ideals they did not uniquely mold, and whose precepts were under fire, as a more conservative nation arose around them, post-2001.

I have no doubt that the generation of Mrs. King saw the Bush presidency as a repudiation of what they stood for so valiantly, in the 1950's and 1960's.

It's just that they are very wrong.

President Bush is no racist, flinging caustic phrases at minorities, in his country or outside it, shunning black or Hispanic Americans, or even women, from his inner circle, and setting back the clock to circa 1954, as if that were even possible.

Though talking a good game about cutting back entitlements and revamping Affirmative Action, his Administration has barely touched the surface of these topics, and is no where as close to having done so, as Preisdent Clinton did with workfare and three-strikes-and-you're out.

This is a man who takes his lumps from the whole world, fully cognisant that in stepping into this poor woman's memorial service, there would be a huge bullseye on his back, just like there was in going to the Pope's funeral.

He's a man whose administration has given the most financial and humanitarian aid to Africa, in the whole of US history (according to no less a self-appointed expert, than Bob Geldof himself).

He's a man who doesn't react when Hugo Chavez calls him names at the Summit of the Americas, when everyone else is projecting that attitude on him, imaginging a battle royale that is merely fought with one pair of demagogic boxing gloves.

He's a man who stands for core values which a lot of people respect, but doesn't mind if you disagree with him.

He's a man who doesn't argue back with Australian parliament protesters, but rather says that debate is healthy -- surely a sign democracy is working.

You just have to beat him, to be able to win that idealism battle.

And from what I was able to see today, the other side isn't winning.

They are stuck in a groove -- of bitterness.

It spills out with the desperation only a drowning person can have, flailing in all directions, unable to control their emotions or temper their words, EVEN AT A FUNERAL. ESPECIALLY, AT A FUNERAL.

It was disappointing yes, but also embarrassing, and deeply, hauntingly divisive.

As usual, it seems one side shouts down and prevents the speech of others, rather than engaging them in earnest debate, at approapriate times and venues.

As usual, it seems one side brings nothing new or inspiring to the table, but the vitriol of a bygone era reworked to fit the circumstances of today.

As usual, it is one side (of white, black or any colour of skin) which cheapens and debases a sacred moment, into a spectacle of undignified bitterness.

Oh, I'm sure that side will win back the top prize one day, maybe even soon. It's good for any democracy to have a pendulum effect in their political system.

But be sure that neutral observers see these spasms of frustration, and are repelled by what they stand for.

Because they stand for hate.

Their actions are that of children who, knowing that they can embarrass their parents in public, since the parents cannot fight back in kind without looking bad, roll around on the floor, the better to draw attention to themselves.

If you ever see the other side have a funeral like this, which devolves into such a spectacle of political one-upmanship, of hypocritical giggles about the Frozen Chosen, of the unseemly, base display of fingerpointing we saw today, drop me an email.

I'll be the first person in the queue condemning it, with my voice and my vote.

R.I.P. Mrs. King.

IN THE COMMENTS: Many poignant messages, but one truly stands out.

Commenter Paul writes a response eloquently enough to be quoted in its entirety:

"It's so curious to watch people who fight against what they see as hatred with hatred.

An obvious growing majority of Americans have been standing back since the 1990's watching hatred grow expontentially with the hatred it was claiming to supress. As if hating more could make this perceived hatred go away.

Why the majority of Americans can't see this has doubled the efforts to make hatred more effective and vocal and pointed.

Any ocassion since 2001 has been used to show the majority of Americans their mistake. Anyone's demise that can be used, will be used, any chance to display to America what they've done to themselves will be taken, from endless hearings in Congress geared at impeaching The President, to the death of Mrs. King and beyond.

The aim is to show America the error of her ways. To take someone like Marti and foul his name, is no less to be done to Mrs. King at her moment of peace and at anytime necessary thereafter.

And newest commenter but experienced lurker, Pat, corrects me by noting that Senator HJ Heinz III was a Republican, not a Democrat.

16 Comments:

  • My thoughts were more succinct but parallel to yours.

    President Bush and former President Bush showed their usual dignity by not responding to this nonsense.

    70 years ago my (black) grandmother could be a member of the NAACP and a Republican (70 years ago being black and a Democrat was unthinkable).

    'Thinkers' from the other side of the aisle have a different take on the events.

    (impressive, aren't they?)

    By Blogger XWL, at Wed Feb 08, 02:20:00 am GMT-5  

  • Disgusting indeed Victoria!!! I don't know if my condition has a scientific name, but lately, any time I see Jimmy Carter I feel a tremendous urge to puke.

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Wed Feb 08, 09:36:00 am GMT-5  

  • Excellent, Victoria.

    You know, when we were all kids, our parents taught us the basics of proper behavior and respect for others.

    Those lessons, simple though they may be, are usually enough to get one through any given social situation unscathed.

    Through their actions yesterday, Jimmy Carter and Rev. Lowery demonstrated that they lack even the most basic, childlike understanding of what is and isn't proper.

    Pathetic.

    By Blogger Alex Nunez, at Wed Feb 08, 10:32:00 am GMT-5  

  • It's so curious to watch people who fight against what they see as hatred with hatred.
    An obvious growing majority of Americans have been standing back since the 1990's watching hatred grow expontentially with the hatred it was claiming to supress. As if hating more could make this perceived hatred go away.
    Why the majority of Americans can't see this has doubled the efforts to make hatred more effective and vocal and pointed.
    Any ocassion since 2001 has been used to show the majority of Americans their mistake. Anyone's demise that can be used, will be used, any chance to display to America what they've done to themselves will be taken, from endless hearings in Congress geared at impeaching The President, to the death of Mrs. King and beyond.

    The aim is to show America the error of her ways. To take someone like Marti and foul his name, is no less to be done to Mrs. King at her moment of peace and at anytime necessary thereafter.

    By Blogger Paul, at Wed Feb 08, 11:16:00 am GMT-5  

  • Jose - I believe I've heard that referred to as 'Carteruptus'.

    I like your post, Ma'am. It's dignified and restrained. Unlike the Dems who go to these memorials/funerals.

    Reading the odd leftist attacks on commenters at Sister Toldjah shows how little they can discern. They truly do not think that anything they do is beyond the Pale. It is only their opponents who do wrong - even if it must be manufactured.

    What a sad tribute to a classy woman.

    Thanks, Victoria. Good post, as usual.

    By Blogger benning, at Wed Feb 08, 12:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I would have watched the service but I knew it would be turned into the circus you so describe.

    Actions like those are a given nowadays.

    By Blogger Val Prieto, at Wed Feb 08, 03:54:00 pm GMT-5  

  • My thoughts were more succinct but parallel to yours.

    I liked your post -- to the point, and full of timely links!

    President Bush and former President Bush showed their usual dignity by not responding to this nonsense.

    No.

    As usual, President Clinton comes up smelling like roses, because he's a moderate publicly (and because he's poh white trash).

    I disagree with those who would criticise him yesterday.

    OTOH, he's still slick Willie. Saying one thing, and thinking very much the other.

    70 years ago my (black) grandmother could be a member of the NAACP and a Republican (70 years ago being black and a Democrat was unthinkable).

    When I read this last night, I said, XWL is part-black!, and that I would ask you about it.

    I decided to just give you a rundown on my inner-monologue instead. :)

    'Thinkers' from the other side of the aisle have a different take on the events.

    (impressive, aren't they?)


    That was a good link too, XWL!

    Not your usual big-blogger post, which takes itself too seriously, and tries to do too much, and cover too many asides (sound familiar, Vic?).

    It sounded real.

    Of course, I dislike his corosive references (wing nuts, etc.), but that's the price one pays for authenticity.

    As for what he actually said...you know what I think of that already. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 09:23:00 pm GMT-5  

  • HJ Heinz III was a Republican, his wife only changed parties when she married Kerry.

    By Blogger Pat, at Wed Feb 08, 09:24:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Disgusting indeed Victoria!!! I don't know if my condition has a scientific name, but lately, any time I see Jimmy Carter I feel a tremendous urge to puke.

    And here I am, Jose, the recent authoress of a post which said that no matter what, I would respect President Jimmy Carter...just because.

    *sigh*

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 09:24:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Excellent, Victoria.

    Thanks, Alex! Twice in a row I've received great compliments.

    I'm on a roll! Who has the butter?

    You know, when we were all kids, our parents taught us the basics of proper behavior and respect for others.

    Those lessons, simple though they may be, are usually enough to get one through any given social situation unscathed.

    Through their actions yesterday, Jimmy Carter and Rev. Lowery demonstrated that they lack even the most basic, childlike understanding of what is and isn't proper.

    Pathetic.


    It is inevitable that someone will say, "The backlash is racist. That's how we black people act at funerals."

    Yeah, Senator Wellstone was mighty tanned.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 09:26:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Guys, give it up for Paul.

    That reply was magnificent.

    (I will put it on the front of the blog, Paul!)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 09:28:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Jose - I believe I've heard that referred to as 'Carteruptus'.

    How about Carterrhoea...

    I like your post, Ma'am. It's dignified and restrained. Unlike the Dems who go to these memorials/funerals.

    There are plenty of no-class Republicans, so it's not just about political aisles.

    But listen -- you'd have to be blind not to see that it's usually one side of the aisle that seems to act inappropriately during important or solemn moments.

    If you tell them to put a sock into it, FOR ONCE, they call you a Fascist.

    Just once, I'd like to have a time machine, and make them go back in time, for them to see what a true authoritarian state is like.

    Or just send them down to North Korea or Cuber.

    Reading the odd leftist attacks on commenters at Sister Toldjah shows how little they can discern. They truly do not think that anything they do is beyond the Pale. It is only their opponents who do wrong - even if it must be manufactured.

    I decided to follow your link, and I am glad I did.

    But please do not tell me that Sister Toldjah has gotten the troll bug too?

    This is the major reason why I don't have the desire to hang around Althouse as much as I did.

    I wade through her trolls posts, and I get a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    What a sad tribute to a classy woman.

    Thanks, Victoria. Good post, as usual.


    Thanks, Benning! :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 09:32:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I would have watched the service but I knew it would be turned into the circus you so describe.

    Actions like those are a given nowadays.


    An Anchoress commenter said that if someone had gone into the King services NOT thinking this would happen, that their naivete is almost too sweet to imagine.

    Guess that naive person is me.

    My mother and I were talking about the Reagan funeral, since we didn't pay too much attention to the recent sad demise of Rosa Parks, and her services.

    My mother said that this situation would've been similar if you can imagine Margaret Thatcher eulogising Ronald Reagan, by sticking it to Gorbachev throughout her video-speech (whom she was sitting next to, you might recall).

    "We know now that the Soviet Union was a stinking pile of crap, seated on a dung hill, surrounded by rats' nests and the feces-satellites of the Balkans"

    (pause for wild applause, lasting 2 minutes)

    "But we know there is a lot of that stink emanating from sections of the cathedral right here still"

    (all eyes to turn to Gorbachev)

    (pause for wild applause, lasting 2 minutes)

    Thank God, I chose the conventionally decorous side to belong to.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 09:41:00 pm GMT-5  

  • HJ Heinz III was a Republican, his wife only changed parties when she married Kerry.

    Thanks, Pat! I am fairly sure I had heard he was a Democrat, but I obviously was mistaken.

    I will correct it in a bit. :)

    P.S.: Jackie Kennedy also belongs to that once-Republican, then-Democrat political wives league.

    She famously said, you have to have been a Republican once, to know how much better it is to be a Democrat.

    Of course, she said it from her husband's private island in Skorpios, or from her Olympic Airways first class seat, but still! ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 08, 09:49:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Happy to help Victoria. I lurk around here fairly often, though I suppose my first comment should've been something nicer than pointing out a mistake in kind of a cold manner, but I suppose we all have to start somewhere.

    By Blogger Pat, at Wed Feb 08, 10:02:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria, I had written a thank you here this morning, it's disappeared, it's always hard to redo something from the heart exactly.

    I want to thank you for this honor. But I cannot write in a fortnight anything which matches what you write daily, as a matter-of-fact. You sweet woman, are someone to aspire to and yet you show such kindness.

    What I wrote was nothing compared to you. I find a close bond forming with you, something I'm not used to and troubling, at times, though I look around Sundries and see the same bonds forming with many, it is singularly special to me, but still....

    By Blogger Paul, at Sat Feb 11, 12:22:00 am GMT-5  

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