Margaret Thatcher: Good Riddance

margaret_thatcherIn case you haven’t already heard, former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died this morning at age 87 following a stroke.

Thatcher, a right-wing ideologue, is already receiving the Ronald Reagan treatment, where the painful real-life consequences of a leader’s policies are scrubbed away by their political progeny in an attempt to sanitize his or her legacy and elevate them to universally iconic status.

I’m sorry, but I can’t join in the gushing praise being heaped upon Margaret Thatcher today. While I feel sympathy for her grieving family and I don’t rejoice in anyone’s death, I’m rather sickened by all the revisionist history I’m seeing. Thatcher was an absolutely vile, union-busting prime minister who put millions out of work, palled around with dictators, touched off an era of cruel greed, and decimated large sections of the British manufacturing industry. She was also a disgusting homophobe, racist, and apartheid supporter. Thatcher even abolished free school milk for British children.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Margaret Thatcher profoundly shaped the UK and her historical importance cannot be denied, but please spare me the breathless, glowing, whitewashed tributes. They’re utterly dishonest, but more importantly, Thatcher doesn’t deserve them.

For my part, I bid her goodbye and good riddance.

21 comments

    • John

      Dee, could you clarify your comment? I’m not sure what you mean — and while I agree that Thatcher was a vile leader, I just don’t see how equating her to a genocidal dictator responsible for the senseless slaughter of millions of people is appropriate.

  1. Caleb Powell

    After Christopher Hitchens died there were similar hateful comments about all his errors. Fair enough, but such attacks always showed more about the writer than the object of the attack. I’m a self-critical left leaning independent, and quite bothered by wrong thought coming from the left, especially in the forms of specious stones thrown at the right. It convinces no one and turns people off. Yes, Thatcher as politician had problems, but why not take the death of a politician you admire and imagine reading the rants of some right-wing dickhead? Your “While I feel sympathy for her grieving family and I don’t rejoice in anyone’s death” comes across as disingenuous. I’d add that dee “false and vile Hitler analogy” sweetland adds a fitting exclamation point and points to the quality of your fans.

    • John

      Sorry, but resisting the Orwellian postmortem revisionism and calling attention to Ms. Thatcher’s *actual* record isn’t hateful, nor is it a specious rant (both words you used). I’m curious as to which of the points I made in the piece you’ve decided are specious; your use of that word leads me to think you may not have met many people from the UK who starved, lost their jobs, were stigmatized/demonized, or even died because of Thatcher’s heartless policies.

      Here’s some remarks from veteran UK gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell: ‘Margaret Thatcher was an extraordinary woman but she was extraordinary for mostly the wrong reasons. I commiserate, as I do with the death of any person. In contrast, she showed no empathy for the victims of her harsh, ruthless policy decisions.’

      Minus the “good riddance” that you’re so upset about (below), that’s essentially the same thing I said. By your hypersensitive definition, Tatchell’s remarks are also hateful. Give me a break. (And incidentally, after having read your blog’s profanity policy, I’m surprised that the phrase “good riddance” gets you so worked up! :-)

      Regarding Dee’s comment, you’re trying to smear me by attaching my name to a reader comment? That’s absurd and you know it. Of *course* I do not support unwarranted Hitler analogies, and I never once compared Thatcher with Hitler either implicitly or explicitly. So no, Dee’s comment is not a “fitting exclamation point,” as it isn’t congruent with anything I actually wrote.

      Finally, you’re wrong about my readers/fans. While again, I do not agree with unwarranted Hitler analogies, lashing out in anger and smearing all my amazing readers on the basis of one single comment from one person is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even merit a response.

  2. Mickie Newton

    Glad I’m not the only one who remembers her as she truly was!!! My family went through hell during the miners strike because what she and her cronies did and of course the backstabbing from the NUM too!!!

  3. Friends

    Looks like “The English Beat” finally got their wish! Check out: (For non-Brits, “Stand Down” means: “Give it up and stop trying to hold on to a high office!” ) It would sure be interesting to attend her Life Review Hearings, in whichever place they’re being held!

  4. Friends

    Well, it looks like the YouTube link was suppressed in the above post. Just go to YouTube and search for “The English Beat: Stand Down Margaret”. You’ll find it easily, in many versions.

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  6. Caleb Powell

    As I said to your response on my blog, the Hilter analogy is not yours, however, if you remain silent on your own blog then you are complicit. If someone posted a Hitler analogy on my blog I’d excoriate them without mercy.

    Hey, I’m no fan of Thatcher, but just want to reiterate that you can make your points without attacking her person and by proxy, those who have more favorable opinions of her.

    Respectfully,

    Caleb

    • John

      There’s one major difference between us: I only tend to excoriate without mercy when someone is either wildly bigoted or comes in self-righteously with guns blazing. When someone makes a comment that I think is incredibly inappropriate, like the Hitler comparison, but makes it in a respectful, non-confrontational way, I express my disagreement and ask them to clarify their intent, in case it was misinterpreted. And very often, although not in this case, other readers jump in to make those very same requests/correct the record before I can even get to it. So it’s a big, open, assertive but positive process.

      But regardless… I’m rather incredulous that we’re having this debate on my blog (which, as you should know from being a blogger yourself, is only one part of a person’s incredibly complex, multi-faceted, crazy/busy life) about how I moderate my comments and interact with readers. I’m not going to apologize or even feel bad about the time it takes me to respond. I love interactions with readers and welcome comments/feedback, good and bad. So I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad you’re reading and interacting, but if the only reason you’re visiting and commenting is so you can pontificate and condemn others for not handling things the way you would have handled them, then keep movin’ right on by. Sheesh.

  7. Caleb Powell

    Hmm, okay, I enjoy argument and seek disagreement, that’s my motive for being here. I do find it odd that you’d suggest I move on while giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who makes a Hitler analogy. My father was born in Lebanon, his family were Persian Jews who left an Iran that had hostile attitudes toward Jews. I find any comparisons to Hitler abhorrent unless they compare two genocidal regimes. Comparing Thatcher’s policies to a regime who made lampshades out of humans just don’t cut it, man. Are you really cool with it?

    But the Hitler thing is still a sidebar to the Thatcher headline, which you’ve oddly defended by saying it’s not hateful. Imagine Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church protesting at the funerals of homosexuals who’ve died of AIDS with signs reading “Good Riddance” and then the WBC poo-pooing accusations of hatred by saying that they love all people in Christian brotherhood and they have no hate. You’re not the WBC, but I mean, Thatcher had warts, and maybe you’re a better investigative journalist than I, but I don’t see how she is responsible for starvation in England the way you imply. I’ve been in England, and even took part in the Pinochet protests outside their House of Parliament, and Thatcher is controversial among my British acquaintances, but, as you say…sheesh. Those accusations of starvation are better aimed at the leaders of the Sudan and North Korea (legitimate Hitler analogy territory). If you feel she’s responsible for these atrocities then your hatred would be understandable, and then I’d ask why try to defend the hatred inherent in your comment? Go ahead, fly, be free, hate someone who “starves children.”

    Back to main point, which was saying that you could have reminded the world of Thatcher’s destructive policies (I find her aligning herself with dictators and being blind to their excess a definite sin) without the no-class headline. Makes me wonder if the headline was a journalistic technique to get readers.

    Nevertheless, I appreciate your engagement and the back and forth, and despite it all, I’m charmed for making your acquaintance.

    • John

      Dude. I told you in private, now I’m telling you in public: I’m coordinating a freaking move to Washington D.C. on three weeks’ notice. The fact that I didn’t respond to Dee’s comment as quickly as you would have liked means absolutely nothing to me, and it certainly doesn’t make me an anti-Semite. Disagree away, but don’t you dare make libelous insinuations like that.

      • Caleb Powell

        Huh??? That you don’t respond quickly to a private email has nothing to do with anything, that’s no big deal, who cares? Do you suffer from logic dyslexia?

        Here’s the sentential logic, let’s see if it resonates: Silence in the face of anti-Semitic comments is latent anti-Semitism. Your commenter said: “I agree she did more damage to the peoples community spirit than Hitler” and thus compares Thatcher to Hitler, implying Thatcher was worse. Thatcher’s policies, democratically supported by the majority of the UK electorate, do not equal Hitler’s ovens and concentration camps where they made heating oil and soap made from human lard.To say, as your commenter did, that you’d prefer the Holocaust to Thatcher trivializes the victims of the Holocaust. You said nothing. That’s my argument.

        When someone doesn’t condemn false Hitler analogies it indicates repressed anti-Semitism. You not only were silent but you excused and gave the benefit of the doubt to your wonderful commenter. C’mon, open up and embrace your hate, let it flow, you’re not with the angels, 6,000,000 dead just ain’t that important to you as “Good Riddance Thatcher”, you’re just another spokesman for self-interests. Sue me for libel, go ahead.

        • John

          I wasn’t silent. I responded. (Although apparently not fast enough for your liking — *that’s* what I was referring to, not to your private email.) And I didn’t give her the benefit of the doubt, I told her she was wrong and that her comment was inappropriate, then asked her to explain herself.

          Said nothing?!? What planet do you live on? Sorry, dude, but the anti-Semite ship won’t sail. Take two deep breaths and calm down.

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