The defenders of funeral politicization are saying sometimes crass is called for.
King never did stop being “inappropriate” and “tactless.” She spoke out against homophobia, even when some of her own friends wanted to look the other way. “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people, and I should stick to the issue of racial justice,” she said in 1998. “But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ “
Coretta Scott King was a woman commited to her causes, and yes, she spoke her mind, and that is how it should be. But she was also a woman of social sensibility, and she was a gracious person. For that matter, so was Dr. King. They were both people who understood that even when you’re sharing a platform at a gathering with those with whom you disagree, you treat them as you wish to be treated. It’s part of the whole “content of character” idea.
But the truth of the King’s human warmth and genius is to be pushed aside. “She was political,” is the cry, and so “political” slaps are fair game! Some writers are even trying to make us believe that Mrs. King would have “approved” of a guest at her funeral being dissed. You won’t convince me of it.
Anyway, we’re being told that this crassness is all appropriate and that we’d better get used to it – particularly if theworstpersonintheworld, George W. Bush, is around.
Get used to it, you say?
So…if, let’s say, tomorrow Jimmy Carter dies (or Ted Kennedy, or any liberal) and there is the funeral…if some conservatives get up and use the occasion to criticize liberal dignitaries in attendance, that will be okay? Because, after all, Carter, or Kennedy, or whoever “were political people?” Is this really what you want, folks?
I mean, chances are highly unlikely it would happen – conservatives tend not to do that sort of stuff – but if it ever did happen – then what? If, let’s just say, someday we’re watching the funeral of a former Democrat president, fer instance – and a conservative gets up and moves away from tribute and into politically charged speech…makes sneering remarks about 17% mortgage rates, or Iranian hostages, or bombing aspirin factories, or talking for years and years about WMD’s, or ignoring Rwanda, or lying under oath, or accessing FBI files, or whatever – that will be okay, right?
You won’t have a problem with it, because the funeral of a “political” person is now simply one more “political event,” right? And sometimes crassness is called for? Can even be touted as a virtue?
But even if those ARE the new rules, I think most people with any class would decide they are options that are better left unplayed.
I’m no fan of Jimmy Carter’s – even though, God help me, I voted for him twice (I was young…) – but if he was in his coffin and the show was on the road, I’d be mortified beyond belief to see a conservative get up and use the occasion of a eulogy to make hay for whichever sitting president (Dem or Republican) was in attendence, and then justify it by saying “well, Carter was ‘political!'”
No, I would not approve. I think this is an ugly precedent, and maybe for once, just once, some liberals might stop making excuses for inappropriate behavior and consider that perhaps weddings and funerals are off-limits for political posturing and positioning.
To everything there is a season. Or, as Granny used to say, “there is a time and a place for everything…” Our culture has grown increasingly insensitive to that old adage, and things have coarsened. But there is surprising power in graciousness, which makes it worth cultivating, and those who advocate tossing it out for political expediency, well…they are depleting their own arsenals. Wars are not won with scud missiles, alone.
Update: Doug at Bogus Gold suggests that this new rule doesn’t play well with the up-for-grab votes:
Most people want some areas of life to be free from the partisan political actions of all sides. When someone becomes so lost within their own partisan echo-chamber that they lose sight of this, these kind of self-inflicted injuries seem to crop up (if you want a right-wing example, think of the self-defeating efforts of some pro-life activists to inject graphic images of aborted fetuses into unexpected places for maximum shock value).
The leftists defending the partisanship at the King funeral can convince themselves 100 times over that there was nothing at all amiss, and any negative press is evidence of a conspiracy by the “right-wing noise machine.” The fact is some people are reacting against partisanship itself and don’t care about the details. These people tend to comprise a large section of the “up for grabs” vote in elections. That’s where the real harm was done.