The Spectacle Blog

Losing It

By on 2.10.06 | 8:06AM

Anyone looking for a contrast to Wlady’s wise and sober column on our public mourning will hardly be able to improve upon Peggy Noonan’s daft piece in today’s Opinion Journal. Ms. Noonan loved the Coretta Scott King funeral so much, she claims to have watched all six hours. She thought: “This is how democracy ought to be, ought to look every day -- full of the joy of argument, and marked by the moral certainty that here you can say what you think.” It would be more accurate to say that the funeral was marked by the moral certainty of the decayed and obsolete civil rights establishment, but Noonan is just getting warmed up.

She says the funeral “honored us,” which it didn't, and that it “said more about who we are than any number of decorous U.N. speeches and formal diplomatic declarations.” She might be right about that part. 

She finds almost everything, including the pot shots at President Bush at what was supposed to be a memorial service, “beautiful,” again because they demonstrate freedom of speech. This is a good example of how demoralizing the whole Muhammad cartoon flap has been; now we have to celebrate public examples of gracelessness and emotional excess because they don’t contain death threats. The terrorists aren’t winning!

But Ms. Noonan's admiration goes beyond that. She wants to kiss the hands of African Americans, she says, for forsaking the style of “20th century stoicism” in their mourning. You see, the last 40 years or so have “left an entire nation thinking it was in rather poor taste to cry aloud and sob.” I don’t know what nation, or planet, she has been living on during that time.

This is a country that almost lost its noodle mourning a British princess in 1997, and whose politicians must get in touch with their feminine, emotive side as a prerequisite for running for the highest office in the land. It’s a country that conducts daily emotional exorcisms on afternoon TV. It’s a country in which silence and a firm jaw are very rare sights anymore. It’s a country that is so overly in touch with its emotions that it over-mourns figures like Mrs. King or Rosa Parks, women who deserved tribute but hardly the nearly state-level ceremonies they were given.

How many of our military funerals do all the presidents attend? How many of our fallen troops get day-long tributes? The questions answer themselves.    

Conservatives will most readily note Noonan’s valentine to the Clintons/>/>, and her final words on that subject -- “God I love them” – could become infamous. But there’s so much else to dislike here, the Clinton passages aren't the half of it.

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