and now to speak ill of the dead
(Note: the following is 100% negativity! If you skip it you will not miss out on news of my life. I may not respond to comments. I am grateful for the Americans with Disabilities act, and Bush41’s support and signature of the ADA is the one thing that mitigates these sentiments.)
I hate Presidential funerals. When I attend services for friends, family or community members, I feel like afterwards I know the deceased better, know more stories about them, better know the hearts of their other people. But so far, the funerals of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush41 mostly leave me with cognitive dissonance and disbelief, like the memory of what the years of their administration felt like is being denied and overwritten. (With the exception of Nixon, whom I don’t remember firsthand. But whew, whiplash between what I heard about him before his death versus immediately after.)
Here is what the Bush41 administration felt like to me: a continuation of Reagan, which is to say a continuation of warmongering, contempt for the non-rich, destruction of the environment for oil profits, and indifference to suffering. Bush may have been a less intense version, but in my perception they had the same masklike face and blaring voice. When Reagan was elected to a second term, I was in ninth grade and felt fear and despair at the prospects of nuclear war. (I mean, The Day After had aired in 1983.) When Bush was elected, I was in college (a very liberal college), and felt disbelief, that people would sign up for more of this.
The fear of nuclear war had faded, but 41’s administration was the first time I witnessed war being declared in my name. I remember sitting around tables in a conference room with other students, trying to figure out what we could do. Send a message of support to “the troops” that was basically “hang on, we’re trying to get you out of this?” Monitor non-U.S. news media because our own was treating this like a video game and might not be trustworthy? We were kids, fumbling around, and probably ended up doing none of this.
Those kinder gentler words that are being quoted all over the place sounded a lot different back then, depending on who you were. “A thousand points of light” seems harmless now, volunteerism is nice. But in the context of Reagan-era defunding of the social safety net and deregulation it had a “let them eat cake” ring– the churches (many of which vocally hated me) will pick up the slack, the respectable rich will look after the respectable poor. Everyone else invisible, Ryan White the first AIDS victim worth talking about, et cetera.
Bush never stepped outside the status quo and now everyone’s kissing his ass for not being Reagan or Trump? How depressing. I start to wonder if I am just deluded and hateful, but then I think about who his other people are. Besides Ronald Reagan, they are Dan Fucking Quayle and Clarence Fucking Thomas. And one son who started a war based on lies and then laughed about it, and another who made it a major part of his life’s mission to stop gay people from marrying or adopting kids.
So although I grudgingly acknowledged the National Day of Mourning, seeing the flag at half-staff for a FUCKING MONTH makes me feel a little more alienated every day.