De Thatcher nihil nisi bonum

Posted on April 11, 2013


Warning: This is a rant. It’s ranty. I woke up and had a look at facebook with my morning coffee and came across this image, listing Attee’s achievements versus Thatcher’s. And then I read the comments. And then I got annoyed.

So Thatcher’s dead. And a lot of people are angry that she gets a state funeral, after all the suffering her reign caused. Her policies destroyed much in Britain, and at a time of cut backs and austerity measures her state funeral comes across to many like the bonuses the bankers got in the years of banking crises and bail outs.

There’s a lot of bile directed her way. And personally, I’m finding it difficult. Not because she’s dead, it’s an issue that predates her passing away. Long before, the name “Thatcher” or “Maggie” was used in lieu of arguments. It hindered discourse and it was a get out of free card for her cabinet, policy makers, voters and everyone who had part in making and implementing her policies on all levels. She didn’t do all she did on her own. And British society seems to have a bit of a blind spot in that respect.

Any criticism of her or her policies is inevitably followed by some version of De mortuis nihil nisi bonum – about the dead say nothing if it’s not good, or more commonly speak no ill of the dead. Thatcher, when she died, was an old lady with dementia. But she wasn’t the old lady next door. She’s a public, historical and political figure. To use this proverb of good taste in her case is ludicrous. Especially when directed towards statements criticising her policies.

History is full of dead people. Dead people did bad stuff. If we aren’t allowed to say bad things about dead people, by all rights we have to outlaw history. Only a moment ago the papers, social media, and chit chat was full of bile towards Savile. Because he was an evil man. No one seemed to take issue with talking bad about the dead then. I hate to Godwin myself here, but no one takes issue with talking ill of Stalin or Hitler either. Now, obviously Thatcher was no Stalin or Hitler or sex offender, but those are dead too.

If it’s in bad taste to speak ill of her, and if that includes her policies, this makes discourse and any level of political debate impossible. The argument is nonsense. And it annoys me. Cut it out, you’re just making yourself look stupid.

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