No one was going to tell me how to mourn Paul Wellstone’s death, and no one is going to tell me how to celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death.
After Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash in 2002, his funeral became a catharsis for those who loved his brand of popular liberalism and had chafed at the pearl-clutching right-wing-defined patriotic correctness that had settled in after the initial bout of unity following the 9/11 attacks. These were Wellstone’s friends and his political allies, experiencing the unexpected trauma of his death in a plane crash, during the period when that news was still raw. It would have been an excellent opportunity for conservatives to shut the fuck up, as a polite individual might when talking to family members of some recently deceased jerk. You would not tell the jerk’s spouse or parents that however they had chosen to express their grief at the funeral was inappropriate. You would don your poker face and say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Yet the former was the uniform conservative — and then, in those days, inevitable mainstream media — response: Liberals didn’t mourn correctly.
I think what’s saddest, to be honest, is the defensive tone of the Media Matters link, “debunking” the “myth” that Wellstone’s funeral was a political rally. I say: fuck yeah! He was an unabashedly liberal politician; an upbeat, funny, articulate guy. He would have loved for his funeral to be a political rally. The only problem was in the heads and hearts of the critics for not understanding this, and in their brain/mouth filter for not stopping the absurd criticism of the mourners before it left their mouths or keyboards.
This criticism was heard again in response to the memorial service for the folks who died recently in Tucson and in the aftermath of Ted Kennedy’s death. As someone who has lost a close family member I can say this: anyone telling me how to mourn will be kicked somewhere painful.
Anyway, I had thought it was the province of conservatives to tell us how we should feel — to dictate emotional correctness — following traumatic national events. But in the past few days, I’ve seen scolding from the left about celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden. Gimme a break! This is a guy who killed 3000 civilians in one day within our borders, and is responsible for all sorts of other death and mayhem around the world. We get a day or two of emotional catharsis. I think this scolding reached the point of caricature in an article — I can’t find the link now — in which we were chided for celebrating bin Laden’s death when there were thousands of American children going hungry each night. So we’re not allowed to celebrate solving one gigantic, hard-to-solve problem until we’ve solved them all?
Per the bumpersticker: “Fuck Yeah” is not a Foreign Policy. So if our entire response to bin Laden’s demise is celebratory swearing, it will be a mistake. But fer pete’s sake — we get a night or two of jubilation that a bunch of kick-ass American soldiers took out a global menace.