Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Funerals and Politics

Matthew Yglesias:

Just a quick rhetorical question on the Corretta Scott King funeral "controversy" -- wtf? When we honor a recently dead person, we always leave it up to the judgment of the deceased's close friends and families to use their best judgment as to how that person would want his or her life to be commemorated. Since when did these arrangements come to be subjected to criticism by random pundits? I hope to God that if through some misfortune I drop dead tomorrow, the organizers of my funeral won't shy away from mentioning the small matter of the political causes I've spent my entire (and admittedly brief) professional career fighting for.

The only reason the general public cares about King's funeral is that she was a political person. She fought for political causes. Not only for in-retrospect-uncontroversial ones like "black people should be allowed to vote," but for issues that continue to be contentious today. Did the Bush administration not overrule the opinion of professional lawyers that the Texas re-redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act? Did they not file a brief encouraging the Supreme Court to restrict affirmative action in college admissions? Do we think King approved of that? Did she expend no small effort in recent years to support gay rights and oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment? Did the Bush administration not support the FMA? Should we really pretend all this never happened to avoid tweaking the sensibilities about Republican politicians?


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