Friday, April 12, 2013

Remembering Maggie

"Before long came the complaints, such as Tony Blair saying: “Even if you disagree with someone very strongly, at the moment of their passing you should show some respect.” Presumably then, when Bin Laden was killed, Blair’s statement was: “Although I didn’t agree with Osama’s policies, he was a conviction terrorist, a colourful character whose short films were not only fun but educational as well. He will be sadly missed.”
The disrespect was inevitable, as millions were opposed to her not because they disagreed with her, but because she’d helped to ruin their lives. If someone robs your house, you don’t say: “I disagreed with the burglar’s policy, of tying me to a chair with gaffer tape and stripping the place bare, even taking the pickled onions, which I consider to be divisive. But I did admire his convictions.”
For example, a Chilean woman living in Britain was quoted in The Nationmagazine, saying: “The Thatcher government directly supported Pinochet’s murderous regime, financially, via military support, even military training. Members of my family were tortured and murdered under Pinochet, who was one of Thatcher’s closest allies and friend. Those of us celebrating are the ones who suffered deeply.” Yes, but she was able to buy shares in British Gas so she was better off in other ways. In so many areas, the party that insists we show compassion for their departed heroine made a virtue of showing none when she was their leader. She didn’t just create unemployment, she gloried in it. Her supporters in the City revelled in their unearned wealth all the more because they could jeer at those with nothing."

I am proud of the Brits for trying to square the historical memory and not just melting into nostalgic platitudes for Maggie.  I wish we did the same when Reagan died.  Rather it was an outpouring of verbiage for the man who "won the Cold War," because we Americans love our heroes, no matter how little introspection we give to those myths.  I wish there had been more honest discussion of Chile, Argentina, the Contras, support for Apartheid South Africa, failures in Lebanon, selling weapons on both sides of the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Grenada (!), not to mention the tremendous dent that Reagan's trickle-down economics did to the American social fabric.  I could go on an on.  And yet, at the time, it seemed that it was all swept under the rug for the vacuous beatification of St. Ronnie.  

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