Funeral For A Non-Friend
Don’t Let John’s Death Whitewash Whitman Record
[Update and Intro – To understand what I am trying to prevent from happening in NJ, folks should read this essay by Glenn Greenwald at Salon – I tried to post it at Star Ledger but have been deleted multiple times – reporters are EXACTLY the audience I need to reach, so it is outrageous that so called journalists delete this kind of analysis:
- Christopher Hitchens and the protocol for public figure deaths - Etiquette-based prohibitions on speaking ill of the dead should apply to private individuals, not public figures
… The country was drowned by a full, uninterrupted week of pure, leader-reverent propaganda.
This happened because of an unhealthy conflation of appropriate post-death etiquette for private persons and the etiquette governing deaths of public figures. They are not and should not be the same …
But that is completely inapplicable to the death of a public person, especially one who is political. When someone dies who is a public figure by virtue of their political acts — like Ronald Reagan — discussions of them upon death will be inherently politicized. How they are remembered is not strictly a matter of the sensitivities of their loved ones, but has substantial impact on the culture which discusses their lives. To allow significant political figures to be heralded with purely one-sided requiems — enforced by misguided (even if well-intentioned) notions of private etiquette that bar discussions of their bad acts — is not a matter of politeness; it’s deceitful and propagandistic. To exploit the sentiments of sympathy produced by death to enshrine a political figure as Great and Noble is to sanction, or at best minimize, their sins. Misapplying private death etiquette to public figures creates false history and glorifies the ignoble.
John Whitman, whether he liked it or not, was a public figure and served as a close advisor to Governor Whitman. The Star Ledger story even plays up that role, while selectively very favorably portraying the Whitman years. He is a fair target for criticism. ~~~ end update]
Since we are doing some truth telling today, thought I’d pass on the bad news that the Star Ledger reports that John Whitman, hubby of Christie Whitman, died today at 71. According to the story, he suffered a “catastrophic brain injury”.
What the hell is that?
Did he fall off a horse? Have a stroke? Get hit over the head with a hammer by Ms. Whitman?
Are the wealthy unaccountable in death too?
My classless response:
I wish I could summon the compassion to say I felt bad for Ms. Whitman. I really do – for Whom the Bell Tolls and all that.
And Mr. Whitman made a career in Wall Street finance – the parasitic greedy sector that has destroyed the US economy, plundered the planet, and imposed poverty and downward mobility on generations.
Again, sorry. But I can’t summon the compassion.
[Update: My comments keep getting deleted at the SL/NJ.com, so I thought I’d raise the issues here.
The SL story portrays, in an unqualified way, the Whitman administration in a very favorable light.
Does the reporter, Matt Friedman, know anything about Ms Whitman’s record in NJ or the behind he scenes role of Mr. Whitman that he so favorably portrayed?
Did Matt Freidman report during the Whitman administration? How does he know what he wrote about?
Did he read the Bergen Record’s prize winning journalism “Open For Business” series (featuring now deceased former SL reporter Dusty McNichol?
The NJ.com story is an insult to Dusty’s legacy – do journalists have any loyalty or integrity at all?