Apologies for the lack of in-depth posting this week. I spent the weekend off in Limerick with the Dublin Roller Derby girls, am doing a couple of talks this week for DIT LGBT‘s Rainbow Week, and have a very loved friend visiting from the US. That, and I have a day job these days!
In the meantime, Margaret Thatcher died and the internet exploded with feels. The occasional sad feel, a lot of happy feels, another bunch of disappointed feels that the happy feels weren’t being appropriately decorous about the whole thing. Everyone ate jelly and icecream. People Said Things.
A few important things people have said, which should fulfill all your Thatcher’s Dead Week needs:
Why Are People In Britain Celebrating The Death Of Margaret Thatcher?
If you’re younger or not from anywhere that she royally fucked over, you might wonder why on earth the death of an old lady and ex-Prime Minister would have people dancing in the streets all over the UK. Sovreign Domain have written a good 101 on Thatcher’s attacks on poor people, POC, and, er, Argentina, as well as her friendships with fascists, racists and paedophiles. A couple of excerpts:
When she was elected in 1979, Her government more than doubled unemployment through extreme Monetarist policies… Over two million manufacturing jobs were ultimately lost in the recession of 1979-81. By 1983, manufacturing output had dropped by 30% from 1978. Employment in Britain has never fully recovered.
…she personally gave the order to sink the Argentinian battleship Belgrano when it was far outside of the ‘Total Exclusion Zone’ declared around the Falklands. In doing so she over-ruled the Navy’s own rules of engagement in sinking a World War 2 vintage battleship that had offered little threat against the modern Royal Navy. The sinking of the Belgrano seemed to be more of a political gesture than a military necessity, designed to show her strength and resolution, needlessly killing 323 sailors.
…Thatcher’s culture of using the Police as paramilitary shock troops against the people of Britain started with the heavy handed and overtly racist policing that helped contribute to the Brixton and Toxteth riots and was developed in the Miner’s Strike of 1984-5.
Check out the rest if you’re not familiar with her or need a recap.
Margaret Thatcher and Misapplied Death Etiquette
Still, though. There were plenty of people who weren’t exactly saints in their lifetimes, and it’s still considered impolite to speak ill of the recently deceased. Right?
In this case, maybe not.
s demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power. “Respecting the grief” of Thatcher’s family members is appropriate if one is friends with them or attends a wake they organize, but the protocols are fundamentally different when it comes to public discourse about the person’s life and political acts. I made this argument at length last year when Christopher Hitchens died and a speak-no-ill rule about him was instantly imposed (a rule he, more than anyone, viciously violated), and I won’t repeat that argument today; those interested can read my reasoning here.
But the key point is this: those who admire the deceased public figure (and their politics) aren’t silent at all. They are aggressively exploiting the emotions generated by the person’s death to create hagiography.
Thatcher was a person, but she is also an idea which has harmed millions of lives. Who do we owe more respect to- the bully or the bullied?
A Feminist Guide to Celebrating Thatcher’s Demise
You’ve read the 101, or you lived through Thatcherism and have been waiting to crack open the bubbly for years. I ain’t going to argue with you if you feel the need to raise a glass to her demise or join your local street party.
You should probably keep a few guidelines in mind, though. Since you know your intersectionality and your feminism, you’re probably aware that the ways in which we demonise and insult women can be pretty darn misogynist. If you’re wondering about the best way to villify her? Look no further, for the Angry Women of Liverpool have put together a quick guide for all your non-gendered vulgarity needs:
We should be careful about how we vilify her, because patriarchy does make it so much easier to vilify women as women, in ways that are harmful to all women rather than just the villains. That said, give her credit: she was vilified for far more than just her gender, and there are many very good reasons why Thatcher holds such a special place in the nation’s gallbladders. She was the one who turned on the tap for all the neoliberal free market shit we’ve been wading through for the past three decades. Why vilify her for being a woman when there’s her role in privatising services, destroying industries, breaking unions, starting wars, atomising communities and, lest we forget, stealing milk from babies.
…What’s wrong with calling Thatcher a venomous, putrid crust of syphilitic smegma on the chode of the universe? Or if you don’t like the vulgarity, go for the surreal: Thatcher was a wax-encrusted elbow-joint of the highest order. Be creative.
- Margaret Thatcher death celebrated with British street parties (beaconnews.ca)
- Argentines remember Margaret Thatcher as ‘cold, aggressive, and odious’ (rawstory.com)
- Death of Margaret Thatcher Leads to Mixed Reporting (drakej70.wordpress.com)
- FOCUS | Margaret Thatcher and Misapplied Death Etiquette (readersupportednews.org)
- Honest Assessments of Thatcher’s Demise (themoderatevoice.com)
- Great Britain Bursts Into Song Over Death Of Margaret Thatcher (wonkette.com)
- Speaking ill of the dead: Margaret Thatcher and Hugo Chavez (khanya.wordpress.com)
- Thatcher-A Terror Without an Atom of Humanity…why many are celebrating her death! (mojidanisa2.wordpress.com)
- Margaret Thatcher – She Came, She Saw, She Failed (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)