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IN MEMORIUM December 5, 2018

 George H. W. Bush shakes hands with newly crowned King Abdullah in Riyadh.

George H. W. Bush shakes hands with newly crowned King Abdullah in Riyadh.

Today the entire nation officially mourns the passing of George H. W. Bush, also known as Bush 41. We mourn his passing because of his rather unimpressive single term presidency that is feted only because of a single, short, brutal war with a much hated dictator – who was our friend until we insisted he leave Kuwait.

Many places have closed for the day. Congress is not working today. The president is not working today (but I’m not sure how anyone can tell the difference). The federal government has been shut down for the day, except for the ubiquitous “essential personnel”. (It’s telling, isn’t it, that neither Congress nor the president are “essential personnel”). A number of schools have closed for the day to give teachers and students adequate time to mourn for a man they did not know, many of them did not like as president, and who did nothing to improve their lives or the lives of those around them.

I am not going to spend this day  mourning the passing of yet another ex-presidents. Ex-presidents come and go, live and die, sleep and eat, and these are not points for me to mark. They are irrelevant. Let’s face it, the man lived to 94. He lived a long life, nearly 20 years longer than the average life span of an American male, and died in a state of wealth and comfort. He had plenty to eat, comfortable beds to sleep, warmth in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. He was able to enter the hospital when he got ill without fear that it would destroy his life, drown him in debt, and cost him his job. He had some of the best health care insurance on the planet, in spite of the fact that he had vast riches and could easily have paid his own hospital bills. He had been brought up with a silver spoon in his mouth, able to meet his dreams and accomplish his desires without additional effort just to survive. He did nothing for those who were less fortunate, and in fact did everything he could to leave them even less fortunate, supporting policies to strip the federal government of its ability to help and the funding to carry out poverty-reducing programs.

No, I will not mourn today. I will mourn when we declare a national day of mourning for the unarmed black men being shot by overeager racial-profiling cops. I will mourn when we declare a day of mourning for children who died because they had no health insurance and no one could afford to pay their health care bills. I will mourn when we declare a day of mourning for all the humans and other living things that are destroyed by the crap we pump into the air, water, and soil at all hours of the day or night. I will mourn when we declare a national day of mourning for women who have been treated as objects of scorn, ridicule, and abuse by frat boy legacy admissions at our major universities, preventing them from succeeding; sexual entertainment for the bosses/teachers that consider it their right to do what they like with women; beaten by asshole husbands and boyfriends who take out all their frustrations on a woman because she is unable to fight back; died in childbirth because abortion could not be obtained to save her life, or because she simply had no access to the preventative services or prenatal care that could have prevented such a fiasco. I will mourn when we declare a national day of mourning for all the minorities that have been oppressed, deprived of their basic rights, and screwed over by the system. I will mourn when we declare a national day of mourning for all the victims of our attempts to spread democracy by any violent means necessary. I will mourn when we declare a national day of mourning for all the victims of all the dictators we have supported for reasons of political and economic expedience. I will mourn when we declare a national day of mourning for all the life on earth that is being, and will be, harmed by our insistence on continuing to pour vast amounts of greenhouse gases into a delicate atmosphere, warming the surface of the earth.

I can almost hear you protest, “But Bush didn’t do all those things himself. Oh, yeah, of course foreign wars and dictators, but not all those things”. No, Bush did not directly commit all of those acts, but he remained for his entire life a member, and supporter, of the party which proclaims itself a moral leader with one face, while dishing out poverty and death with the other. He participated in Republican politics, and supported tax cuts to the rich (including the rich Bushes). He supported dictator regimes, and led the organization which was responsible for covert regime changes in other sovereign nations, while also supporting the idea of “state’s rights” here at home, an idea steeped in a tradition of racism and brutality toward non-white citizens. He continued to campaign for Republican candidates who would increase the income of the rich while depleting that of the poor, and who would pass repressive laws against women, remove voting rights from minorities, and incarcerate millions of young black men for trivial crimes. He continued to support a party that elevated an unqualified buffoon, an acknowledged pussy-grabber, and a xenophobic monster who separates children from their families, to the highest level of power. Throughout his entire life, George H. W. Bush was a player, using his status and money to further the interests of his own class at the expense of the rest of the world, both at home and abroad.

Today, I declare it a national day of mourning for all the victims of all the policies perpetrated by a government that fails to recognize the people it serves, and fails to uphold their moral responsibility to the most unfortunate among us. I declare it a national day of mourning for the environment that has been ill served by this same government, which has the power to act and won’t. I declare it a national day of mourning for the rest of us, those who will never be noticed by Congress even if we die on the streets in front of their houses.

Bush had his minutes of fame, and it’s time to stop eulogizing the worst among us merely because they managed to ride a system that was tilted in their favor all the way to the top.  

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