Thatchers dead & so are basic ethics

13 Apr

I’m not a British citizen and I did not live through the Thatcher era. In whatever many ways it has impacted British society it has never directly affected me or my loved ones. Despite that, I come from a country where I understand what it’s like to hate leaders that have destroyed your country. I come from a country where I personally know generations before mine that celebrated the death of Zia-ul-Haq, a radical military dictator. I come from a country where Salman Taseer’s murderer was showered with rose petals, which coincidentally meant his death was celebrated.  So yes, I understand when people say they hated Margaret Thatcher because she had some terrible policies. I understand how resentful a large proportion of British society is due to Thatcher’s individualistic policies that widened the gap between the rich and the poor. I recognize that she had some horrendous policies such as associating herself with brutal dictators like Pinochet. One can also attach blame to Thatcher for the situation with the Malvinas. The coal miners hate her, the pro-welfare groups can’t stand her, the families and friends of those who suffered in Northern Ireland have reason to despise her. I understand all that and more. However, what I, as a human being, cannot sit silently and condone is disrespecting the dead.

I was once an A-level sociology student, due to which I studied the functions of death to a society. I read about how a society is brought together to stand united when it loses one of its members. My sociology course taught me how important it is for a society to grieve together to cope with the overpowering feeling of human helplessness that culminates as a result of death. Infact, death is such an overwhelming and devastating phenomenon beyond human control that one would have certain expectations from the civilized world (I’m not even going to begin to discuss the personal dimension, i.e. how disrespectful it is to the dead’s loved ones that people cheer at their misery).

A civilized society is one in which even macro-differences should not culminate in undignified and disrespectful behaviour. Before coming to study in the UK, I had grand ideas of what an egalitarian, developed, liberal democracy like Britain would look like. What I see now disgusts me.

Margaret Thatcher was a political leader, and like all political leaders, Thatcher left behind a legacy. This legacy is one to debate upon, to criticize and to learn from. Her policies are there for the world to see – they will go down in history books and will provide British society an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and recklessness of their leaders. The same situation applies anywhere else in the world, even in Pakistan, where we should not spit on Zia-ul-Haq’s grave but instead ensure that our country does not have to ever re-live that era. When someone leaves this world, their successes and failures are there for all to speculate upon. We have a right to criticize any leaders’ policies to an extent where we can say, point blank, that they shouldn’t have been pursued.  When I came to study in the UK, I thought I would see a civilized response to human crises such as death. I was disappointed. Whilst some of Thatcher’s worst policies will definitely end up in history books, there is something equally sickening that will be right there next to them. The disrespect shown by the death-party groups across the UK will be right there at the crux of the debate when future generations discuss Thatcher. A civilized part of the world that prides itself for securing human rights will bow their heads in shame when future generations look at pictures of Cava-poppers on the streets of Glasgow and London. A picture is worth a thousand words – there will be no words these generations will be able to muster up to condone their barbaric behaviour, allegedly the same behaviour they hated Thatcher for.

Had these groups stopped for one second and contemplated what the long-term impact of their actions would be, I hope to God they would’ve reconsidered engaging in death parties and celebrations of death. Thatcher’s legacy is something that will go down in history for what it is to British society – and they are the judge and the jury in determining how nauseating those policies truly were. However, the same ethical issues these people have with Thatcher are the same issues I have with them. She may have done some extremely questionable things – but are we being any different than her in dancing on her grave? Are we moving forward from the dark ages or do we make exceptions to regress where it means we can have a champagne party in the middle of George Square?


5 Responses to “Thatchers dead & so are basic ethics”

  1. saudahsen April 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    Reblogged this on Avant garde.

  2. O April 14, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    “There’s no such thing as society.” – Margaret Thatcher.

    • The Syed Atheist April 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      There’s no such thing as Margaret Thatcher. – Society, 2013

  3. The Syed Atheist April 14, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    Quite agree with the sentiment in this post regarding ethical flaws people tend to show at times like these. But on the other hand,on a more close-to-reality basis,when notorious leaders die their death is usually celebrated. It’s a disturbing aspect of our society but the fact that every action has a reaction plays a role here. Thatcher,Saddam,Chavez were all public figures,giant leaders. Because they enjoyed complete power over public,they were tolerated by the public willingly or unwillingly,even by their political opponents. To some people they were the best,to some they were the worst. Every single miner who got kicked out because of Thatcher doesn’t have much to do than celebrate her death and let it all out once and for all. As disturbing and ethically screwed up that might sound,that’s a harsh reality when it comes to the deaths of notorious dictators/leaders and they know this very well – they know that they won’t be remembered in good words by necessarily everyone after their deaths. That’s the risk they take. But then again,you don’t see Jews celebrating the death anniversary of Hitler.
    I’d say pulling off grand parties in celebration of a death is too much. Also,good point about it’s impact in the long-term. While Thatcher didn’t care about the impact her actions will make in the long-term,people celebrating her death in these parties seem to be just as ignorant,if not more.

  4. The Syed Atheist April 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Let me point out one more thing – death of Jesus is celebrated by Christians. Personally,I find that stupid,irrational and disturbing. But who’s willing to go and tell that to a priest? 😉

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