When a political adversary dies, should we pretend that it’s a sad thing when we don’t in any way think it is? And when talking about the US in particular, why should the centre and left be restrained in their reactions to such deaths while the right can be as gleeful as they want?
When a liberal or progressive—or even a conservative who’s not as conservative as those in today’s anti-gay and conservative industries—dies, the rightwing positively gloats, metaphorically dancing on the person’s grave. Yet if someone from the centre or left expresses even that they’re simply not sorry a wingnut has died, then our comments are used by the right to “prove” that the left is “intolerant” or that we are “bigots”. Precious petals, those rightwingers.
I was reminded of this yet again when convicted Nixon Administration felon and viciously anti-gay political organiser Chuck Colson died. Gay überblogger Joe.My.God. was compelled to add to his post, “NOTE: Please be aware that your comments on this post may be harvested for republication on anti-gay and Christian websites.” He knows this because it’s happened before.
Personally, I don’t delight in Colson’s death, even though I certainly don’t mourn him, either. I wish simply that he’d come to his senses and turned from his campaign of hatred. Or, I wish he’d just retired. The truth, however, is that his death changes nothing because there are plenty of anti-gay extremist wingnuts just like him waiting in line to take his place in spreading lies and hatred as part of a theocratic political agenda. What's to delight in about that?
So, unlike those on the right, and even some on the left, I won’t gloat about the passing of a political enemy—for that is what Chuck chose to become (and that description is especially appropriate for the man who wrote Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list”). I assume that he leaves behind people who loved him, people who are not responsible for the evil Chuck did in the name of his religion—even though they obviously know there were plenty of people who did not love him. That’s something positive.
So, I won't dance on Chuck's grave for all those reasons—the pointlessness of it, and the fact that he must have innocent survivors. Instead, I’ll say only this: If he has now found that there is a god and a Jesus, I hope they can forgive him for what he did in their name. There are plenty of people on earth who never will.
And that is as restrained as I can be, far more so than my adversaries could even imagine, and done without a single dance step taken or contemplated.