Jogged by a strange republican backlash out of the blue, I began to think of something (always dangerous). Does death represent?. Or, in the semiotic sense, does death signify?
We seem to be culturally inscribed with the notion that it does. Poets confront it with dread, and attempt to elegize it away into sleep, or to sexualize its representation in petit mort. The Christian tradition certainly believes that it does—he died for your sins, you know? And the goal of political rhetoric is to transform death into nobility, making every day a “good day to die.”
Somehow, I think all this rationale makes little difference to the dead. It exists for the living, to make us better prepared to face the prospect of dying ourselves someday. The first two variants—poetic and religious—seem relatively harmless to me. The third option, the political one, seems incredibly dangerous.
That is why I try to keep my political opinions to myself, mostly. I vote, like most people, for the option that seems least objectionable. Doing some math recently, I noticed that my father’s net worth increased about tenfold during the Clinton administration. He lost nearly a third of that in the first two years of Bush’s reign. Even discounting the increasing death-toll brought upon us by a man who was C student rather than a Rhodes scholar, or the clearly hyperbolic hate rhetoric that spews from his office, or the fact that he stole his way into office by soiling the independence of the Supreme court by stopping a legal recount, please don’t try to change my vote. If I only voted by my pocketbook, I would be voting against him anyway.
Do I think Bush is comparable to Hitler? Yes. That’s just my opinion though, worth just as much or as little as any media pundit. I think the comparison is valid because of the way both politicians played on fear and paranoia in their countries to cement their power in pursuit of a “just cause.”
I think the comparison is valid because both bankrupted countries through military escalation. I think the comparison is valid because both asserted the equivalent of “divine providence” for their country to act unilaterally in altering the governments of other countries. However, I think it also fair to state that I believe that Hitler was a human being—not a monster—who took his petty prejudice to world-changing heights. I am more scared now than I have ever been of the direction that my country is going. Mostly because people seem to buy the foolish lie that to vote republican is to preserve their wealth against the spendthrift democrats. The portfolio I manage says otherwise.
I am closing comments on this entry and will not entertain further political sparring. I just had to get this out of my system. I’m willing to entertain discussions of the other signifying functions of death, just not the political ones.