Monday 15 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher. IMO

So. I came back from Austria (very nice indeed, thank you for asking) and stayed in London a bit with my mucker Jane. And it does make me laugh that, while I could get on-line easily in the back of beyond, up a mountain in Austria (when I was in a fit state to use it, of course), Jane doesn’t have any wifi so I was pretty much gagged.

But, before I was logged off I went on Twitter (as you do) and checked on a few people I like to RT from time to time and…what?  And old friend I was apparently no longer following? And he not following me? Twitter playing around again?  So I clicked Follow and it told me I’d been blocked.  Blocked?  Nobody has ever blocked me before.  Or maybe they have but I just never realized - in which case – ca ne fait rien. 

And, I freely confess, I felt hurt, very hurt.  I mean, this is someone I’ve known online for a fair few years now, and have supported pretty staunchly IMO.  But that's by the by - what surprised me was that he never seemed the blocking type.  It seemed a petty action to take and he'd not struck me as petty.  

And I puzzled…why?  And I thought back and remembered that our last exchange had been over Margaret bloody Thatcher. I’d tweeted that I was logging off for the night because my timeline was starting to sicken me.  That, while I might hate Thatcher’s policies, I could never feel delight at any human’s death. I could never dance on a grave. It’s not Thatcher per se. I felt the same about Osama bin Laden.  About Saddam Hussein. Would I feel the same about someone who had killed people I know personally and love?  I can’t say for sure but I suspect so.  I just can’t delight in death.  Anyone’s death.  And dancing on the grave of a senile 80-something?  It’s…infantile and petty. IMO.
Should we be spending 50 million on her funeral?  No.  IMO.  Should the BBC play Ding Dong the Witch is Dead?  Yes. IMO.  It’s called freedom of speech.  Should Thatcher be feted?  No.  IMO.

And that’s the thingy.  In MY opinion.  Your opinion could be very different and, hey, that’s fine.  What I don’t get is why people want everyone to think and feel exactly the same way they do.  How bloody boring is that?  I often see opinions I disagree with on social media – but do I race off and block the owners of those opinions?  Nope.  I just think, ah well, horses for courses. And I’ll look at what they’re saying and see if maybe my views are ripe for changing. Sometimes they are, sometimes not.  But the opportunity is there, which would never happen if I only followed people I agreed with 100 percent of the time. 

Then I ask myself – but what if you saw someone cheering at, for example, that poor girl who was raped and then lashed for adultery?  Well, okay, I might unfollow for that.  So, I guess, maybe for some people Thatcher arouses equally strong passions.  Hey, I don’t know.  It’s certainly sad that, even in death, she manages to divide people. And I do just wonder if there would be this depth of feeling if she had been a man. 

But, hey, gender aside, she’s a useful scapegoat. A place to pin feelings people don’t like to admit in themselves. I've written about scapegoating before -  here and here - and I still find it a fascinating topic.  There’s a seething undercurrent in the UK and Thatcher has provided a focus for it. You could argue that it’s actually healthy – that it allows an outpouring of frustration and anger which people feel unable to do in any other way – that it provides a focus for feelings of helplessness. 

What could be transforming would be if people looked at why she arouses quite such intense feelings in themselves?  Not because of what she did but for what she stood for.  What does she mean to you and how many of those qualities might you deny in yourself?  It’s a thought, huh?  But that’s a big ask – and for most people it will just be visceral, an animal instinct.

But still, it’s interesting, no?  

Regarding my erstwhile friend, I feel no ill-will.  The loss of friendship is always sad but some things run their course and then you must just bless them, let them go and move on.  Otherwise they just fester.  And festering – like immoderate sustained hatred - is seriously counter-productive because the only person it harms is you.  IMO.  :-)


Ashen said...

It's now called the Maggie factor. I lost one or two twits, can't recall what I said, something similar in the vein of reflection. Resentment is a sharp arrow in need of a target. The public's gut feeling wa not listened to. Politicians banked on a financial vision that has now gagged them.

During the 1980s, in Somerset, I nearly succeeded saving a patch of oakwood from clear-felling I was vilified, told - if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen - full-on media war. I replied - open your windows for a little fresh air and a wider view.
I had nothing to lose, which is worth a thought. If you have nothing to lose you become a wild card.

Expat mum said...

I almost unfriended someone on FB because of the political statements he was posting. I just didn't want to be friends with someone who had those views; I didn't go ahead with it however because on reflection, it looked childish. I din't see him in real life any more, so what does it really matter?
While I criticise Thatcher for being so divisive when her job should have been to lead one nation, I do wonder sometimes if part of the bitterness against her was because of her gender. I am firmly of the belief that a lot of people in the US who literally hate Obama, do so because they're closet (or not so closet) racists, so perhaps some of Maggie's critics are misogynists.

Beadzoid said...

I think I may have lost a few followers too. Probably came quite close to being unfriended on facebook as well after not commenting but sharing a few Guardian and Independent articles. I did wait a respectful 24 hours though :) and I certainly didn't grave dance on Twitter. I feel the same as you there in a way. I can't delight in someone's death.

BUT... and this is a big but... I can understand how some of those so directly affected by her politics would find some form of release by expressing positive sentiments upon her death (I wrote so in my blog). And respectfully, I don't think it's anything to do with her gender, her policies were at the time extreme and people did lose their livelihoods. Lots of people. Some were even driven to suicide.

And the militirisation of the police: the strike brutality, the waving of money in the miners faces, the cover up of Hillsborough preventing justice for 23 years. I can totally see why so many people will have very little sympathy and I agreed with the Guardian article that said we absolutely should be discussing her political legacy instead of keeping a respectful silence. Rewriting of history after all is a dangerous thing.

But yeah, I'm not cheering at the burial of an old lady today. I simply won't be watching. Others are free to do as they wish.

sarahhillwheeler said...

It's true how emotive the whole Thatcher debate has become. I'm not a Thatcher supporter, but some of the bile spinning around has shocked me.

I know what you mean about not rejoicing in another person's death. I felt quite sickened at the way Gadaffi was killed, not because I supported him, but because there's something slightly sickening about the viseral hatred and cruelty unleashed. An eye for an eye and the whole world's blind.

As for unfriending people, I agree it seems a bit petty. What happened to agreeing to disagree? (Perhaps a bit threatening?)

bright star said...

I agree mostly with you but I can see why people unfriend people . There s=are some views that are to hard to take,for instance Thatcher was friends with Pinochet, apart from her other rantings this tops the lot! all the best Angela

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

This is hard. I didn't watch any of the funeral or read much of the coverage. I wanted to disassociate myself. Yet I did not want to celebrate. To me, celebrating someone's death is a deeply uncomfortable thing. How do I feel about the death of Hitler, or Stalin? The perspective of history makes it easy to say that the world is a better place without them. I don't admire Thatcher and I thought her policies brought much suffering but I cannot celebrate her death, whether or not she equates with Hitler and Stalin, which I doubt.

Anonymous said...

I was blocked for the same reason. At first I was angry and then I thought no I don't feel comfortable with somebody I who celebrates a death. And I helped in soup kitchens in Sheffield during the strike so I did know a little about the impact, but that didn't matter to the person who was happy to use clever little one liners to get a lot of retweets at the expense of a sad old lady and her grieving family.