Glenn Greenwald has an interesting article on the passing of Margaret Thatcher arguing that America’s policy of not criticizing political figures at their time of death is misplaced etiquette.
“The dictate that one ‘not speak ill of the dead’ is (at best) appropriate for private individuals, not influential public figures.”
Greenwald then quotes President Obama’s eulogy:
“The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.”
Unlike Gleen Greenwald, I believe Ms. Thatcher’s friends and family deserved a day free from criticism yesterday. But I agree with him that no one deserves the kind of propaganda the President dished out. Those responsible for emptying the public coffers into private hands should be mourned as human beings, but not as heroes. The price of that polite deception is that such mythology then becomes historical memory.
The President’s words were true if by “freedom” one means deregulation of corporations. But conversely if by “freedom” one means the control actual individuals hold over their own lives, Ms. Thatcher deserves no such roses even at her funeral. The privatization movement, of which Thatcher was a part, plunged millions into helplessness. To call her a “champion of freedom” codifies a political and historical habit of viewing the rich and powerful as the only people whose stories really count.
Obama’s words are also true if by “America” one means our nation’s weapons makers. But if by “America” one includes the soldiers killed and wounded in the manufactured wars Thatcher helped promote, or if one includes as Americans those workers who have become interchangeable pawns on a corporate chessboard, then the story must be remembered differently.
Greenwald concludes with an interesting quote by David Wearing:
“People praising Thatcher’s legacy should show some respect for her victims.”