Sunday, 30 August 2009

Selective Memory In Death

It's always a difficult call to know what tone to take when a well known figure dies as has been shown with the UK medias reaction to Ted Kennedy.
To us he was just the brother of the more famous John and the guy who caused a stink earlier on in the year when he was awarded an honorary knighthood despite his well known sympathies with the IRA.
Lord Tebbit, whose wife was confined to a wheelchair after suffering injuries from an IRA bomb, said the honorary knighthood was 'wholly inappropriate' and said that Ted Kennedy 'was certainly no friend of the UK'.
The media have seemed to refrain from handing out any plaudits to the US Senator but it is impossible to hear or read anything about him without Chappaquiddick being mentioned and the details of how he abandoned a young woman in his car when it plunged into the river and inexplicably, did not raise the alarm until the next day after first contacting his lawyers.
It's as if they are nodding towards him being a wrong'un but they won't come right out and say it, just play a straight bat and hint towards it.
The same thing happened with Princess Diana who was widely portrayed as a manipulative and scheming floozy right up to her death when she transformed into the queen of our hearts amid much hand wringing.
Jade Goody's death saw her make the leap from bullying, racist loudmouth to the 'princess of Bermondsey' while the paedophile allegations that dogged Michael Jackson have been conveniently brushed under the carpet as we celebrate his greatness.
It does seem the height of hypocrisy to change your view on someone just because they have had the misfortune to have died.
An often repeated mantra is if you have nothing nice to say about a person, then don't say anything at all and don't speak ill of the dead but to my mind it's if they were scheming floozy's, bullying racists, terrorist sympathisers or had an unhealthy interest in children in life, just because they died doesn't mean they were never any of these things when it's time to write up the obituary.


Nog said...

I guess the media over might be nicer than yours over there to him now that he's dead.

And don't take the whole "Irish" thing to personally. Sure he is of some Irish ancestry, but his "pro-IRA" sympathies (that's one thing we don't hear about over here) could be more linked to his desire to win over masses of lower middle class voters here in the states who also identify themselves as being of Irish ancestry. And Americans have few tears for dead British nobles killed by self-proclaimed "freedom fighters".

Take his "Catholic" "faith". He was pro-life and so on until it ceased to be politically convenient. If for some reason lower middle class Boston folks of Irish ancestry ceased to care about Ireland, he'd of set the IRA adrift.

And on another note, a lot of the pageantry surrounding him has to do with the fact that there has always been a disposition in American politics for (relatively) short term political "dynasties" to be formed.
Part of it is that humans, regardless of what they'd all tell you, are rarely less than 10% monarchist at heart. There seems to be a desire to have some sort of hereditary king (in the archaic theological sense of "king") who one can worship and revere. Why else would heads of state be magically responsible for all major good and bad happenings if they didn't have some connection with divine forces. Of course at this point in history most of these primordial urges operate in our subconscious minds.
The other part of it is that families tend to make good political "brands".
The typical case is that such families will stay around as a sort of unofficial noble house for 50 to 100 years and then everyone forgets about them (think Adams, Roosevelt, Lee, Bush, and so on).
So it is kind of like the death of a prince. Prince Charles may be a useless ass, but would you focus on all the dumb things he did if he died tomorrow?


Falling on a bruise said...

Prince Charles may be a useless ass, but would you focus on all the dumb things he did if he died tomorrow?
I would say that if Charles did what Kennedy did, he wouldn't ever be taken back into the fold. It would be thrown at him for the rest of his natural.
Short of that, the dumb things he has said and done will be seen as a charming quirk when he dies.