... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

604: Thatcher

This is not a discussion about what she did or didn't do, about whether she saved this country or condemned it. The fact is some people love her, some people hate her, some people think it's sick to celebrate the death of an old woman either way.
This is just a defence of those who hate(d) her.

People hated her. Some people (seemingly the majority of these being middle class, English Tories) can't seem to allow for this fact. “What do you mean you hated her? But she saved this country!” It's as though they simply can't comprehend any reason for this hate, as though the anti-Thatcherites are just jealous liars. I've even heard “She crushed the unions” touted as one of the great things she did. I can't understand that logic at all.

To me the people condemning those who celebrate and joke about her death have the same mindset as those who, if transplanted to late 1980s America, would have condemned the likes of Public Enemy and N.W.A. for their lyrics and image. Those kinds of rappers presented themselves as “the black CNN” and their lyrics reflected social situations that were being ignored by the mainstream, middle-class white media. The response of the media was to condemn the rappers for speaking up, for questioning the mainstream myth that everything was OK. The problem was not the poverty, police brutality and racism; the problem was the uppity folk talking about it.
(Maybe this comparison is stupid, I don't know, I'm not an expert. Maybe it's incredibly stupid.)

This mirrors the response to the public outpouring of hate directed at Thatcher, the public joy at her death. In this case the problem is not the things she did to earn that hate (destroying the unions, working class institutions and industries; picking apart society, public ownership, and the welfare state; using the police as private muscle to brutalise protesters, picketers, and the people of Northern Ireland; empowering financial institutions to act with obsessive unrestrained reckless greed; selling off social housing without replacing it; didn't give a shit about apartheid) because all those things were either great or simply never happened. The problem is all those sad sick jealous people with their words and jokes and peaceful actions.

They condemn those reporting the situation (be it American ghetto life, British Thatcherism, or whatever) rather than the situation itself. Those who support Thatcher with their “she made Britain Great again” nonsense cannot see passed their own middle class privilege, just as critics of political/gangster hip hop couldn't. (“I don't want to hear Black men joking about societal imbalance and dead cops.” “I don't want to hear Liberals joking about societal imbalance and dead old women.”) Thatcher viciously attacked the working class and we didn't kill her, we just spoke disrespectfully and made some jokes. The problem is not what we say. The problem is what she did that prompted us to say it.

Those demanding respect be shown her are missing the point. Millions of people have valid reasons to believe she deserved no respect. To deny these people the right to speak their minds, to suddenly silence the jokes they freely made when she was alive, is to deny not just their freedom of speech, but to deny the facts of history and the reality of our current political situation.

Don't get me started on the political opportunism this has inspired in the Tories. The pornographic Tory frottage over her canonisation desperately screams, “Please vote for us, go on, do it, not for me but for dear old Maggie the Great”. Imagine if she'd died under Gordon Brown's Prime-Ministership. Would £10 million have been spent on her funeral? Possibly not. “Well, if all those idiots hadn't celebrated her death they wouldn't need to spend millions on security.” Bullshit.

The people celebrating make their feelings known by buying 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead' not by attacking a funeral. If people want to peacefully protest a funeral, especially a publicly funded one for a despised public figure, they should be allowed to and no amount of security should be allowed to interfere. So much is being spent on security because it's been turned into such a bloody rigmarole. Nowadays all big events need security, not just the funerals of horrible people. Give her a small private respectful burial and the costs would be small. Duh.

"Anyone who celebrates death is sick." (Isn't 'sick' a positive word these days?) Perhaps the person who wrote that isn't aware the extent to which she was hated; her death, and the subsequent dancing, has been joked about for decades. Why the hell should that joking stop now that she has actually died? I can see no reason. Just because she is dead we should suddenly develop respect for someone we have despised for so long. I'm not sad, why should I pretend?

To ignore the hate, just because she has died, is to rewrite history – to expunge the terrible things she did leaving us with only the good stuff. Oh, by the way. I'll be cheering Pope Emeritus Benedict Ratzinger's death too when that finally happens, assuming he doesn't simply ascend to heaven to live eternally.

Here's some links, a Wikipedia article applicable to Thatcherists, and some Guardian opinion pieces:
and my favourite:

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