The urge toward hagiography when someone dies is understandable. Because the dead cannot speak for themselves, and because the end of a life is a tragedy, we often hesitate to criticize them for fear of being seen as stomping on their grave – if not forever, than at least immediately following their passing.
But, then, when it comes to public figures, the immediate aftermath of a death is precisely the time when history is cemented — and too often selectively revised. Case in point is the former Democratic congressman and New York City mayor Ed Koch.
Since his death on Friday, the nation has been treated to a tidal wave of commentary memorializing the man with all the tired, lazy and meaningless cliches that are applied posthumously to almost anyone with any notoriety and establishment approval. These run the gamut from “colorful” to “candid” to “embodiment of the Big Apple” to “an American original,” — all descriptions seemingly designed to be at once complimentary and entirely devoid of any actual substance that might describe Koch’s public record...it’s no surprise that among all the labels used to describe Koch, “warmonger” was not among them — even though it most certainly should be.
~ from When Ed Koch backed George Bush by David Sirota ~
I am continually amazed how the act of death turns even the worst of us into the best of us. A bus crashes or a tornado strikes or a crazed gunman mows down a group of people and every last one of the deceased is hailed as some sort of saint. By some of the memorials and funerals, you'd think that Jesus, Mother Theresa, Gandhi or Mr. Rogers had just died!
You know, this world is filled with wife abusers, child abusers, swindlers, thieves, extortionists, adulterers, pathological liars, drunks and absolutely mean folks, but it seems that these people never die, they just melt away. If you use one of the preceding words to describe someone who just died -- even if you regularly utilized such words when they were alive -- it is considered sacrilegious! How dare you speak ill of the dead!
When I have become little more than "dust to dust and ashes to ashes," I sure as hell hope people don't lionize me. Yes, they can say a few a words about my more endearing qualities, but I hope someone has the guts to say something like "Trey could be quite annoying, at times, and boy was he ever long-winded."
Why is it that you can go up to a person you absolutely detest and tell them that they are a dirty SOB, but once they die, you have to act like he or she was as cuddly as a kitten and as sweet as an angel?