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Dec 19 2011

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I Shed No Tears

Jackson Heights resident, Bill Meehan is the author of a poignant and socially conscious blog titled the Bill E Pulpit. Read Bill’s latest post, I Shed No Tears where he ruminates on how honor shouldn’t come by default.

Diogenes admonishes “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum”, loosely translated as “Speak no ill of the dead”. Judith Butler, an American post-structuralist philosopher, states: “some lives are grievable and some are not.”

Two “important” people died this past week, Christopher Hitchens and Cardinal John Foley. The obituaries, for the most part, adhered to Diogenes’ advice; I would follow Butler and state that neither death was grievable. 

Publicly mourning someone like Hitchens in the way we are supposed to do — holding him up as someone who was “one of us,” even if we disagree with him — is also a way of quietly reinforcing the “we” that never seems to extend to the un-grievable Arab casualties of Hitch’s favorite wars. It’s also a “we” that has everything to do with being clever and literate and British (and nothing to do with a human universalism that stretches across the usual “us” and “them” categories). And when it is impolitic to mention that he was politically atrocious (in exactly the way of Kissinger, if not to the extent), we enshrine the same standard of human value as when the deaths of Iraqi children from cluster bombs are rendered politically meaningless by our lack of attention.

Corey Robin wrote that “on the announcement of his death, I think it’s fair to allow Christopher Hitchens to do the things he loved to do most: speak for himself,” and then assembled two representative passages from Hitchens’ post-9/11 writings. 

In the first, Hitchens celebrated the ability of cluster bombs to penetrate through a Koran that a Muslim may be carrying in his coat pocket  (“those steel pellets will go straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody else. So they won’t be able to say, ‘Ah, I was bearing a Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through.’ No way, ’cause it’ll go straight through that as well. They’ll be dead, in other words”), and in the second, Hitchens explained that his reaction to the 9/11 attack was “exhilaration” because it would unleash an exciting, sustained war against what he came addictively to call “Islamofascism”: “I realized that if the battle went on until the last day of my life, I would never get bored in prosecuting it to the utmost.”

Hitchens, of course, never “prosecuted” the “exhilarating” war by actually fighting in it, but confined his “prosecution” to cheering for it and persuading others to support it.

The above, with the exception of an editorial comment or two is from :
Christopher Hitchens and the protocol for public figure deaths
www.salon.com

The other deceased was Cardinal Foley, the retired Vatican spokesman who once referred to AIDS as God’s sanction against homosexual activities. Nothing in the Times obit suggested that as he grew in “wisdom and age” he disavowed this hateful comment which portrays God as some sadistic monster.

In most institutions a comment of this nature would be publicly disavowed and be an automatic career killer. Not so in this instance. It was Archbishop Foley who made the remark and who was later elevated to the rank of Cardinal. I would have definitely remembered if his superior or his mitered brethren distanced themselves from his remark. 

So much of the violence and death inflicted on the LGBT community is done in God’s name, done by crazed people who believe they act in the name of God and as his/her emissary. Too often, organized religion remains silent and thus complicit.

Two “important” men died this week. I shed no tears

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/12/i-shed-no-tears/


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