Words and things, mostly words.
Last night, news broke that long-serving US Senator John McCain had died. The senator had been receiving treatment for a brain tumour, but ultimately opted to cease treatment and let the disease run its course. In light of his passing, this has triggered the dubious urge to immediately lionise the man — in spite of the very mixed bag that is his legacy.
Generally, it’s considered in poor taste to mock the dead. However, I am of the opinion that if the subject is a public figure, one whose life was spent doing incalculable harm to the public, that the deceased is deserving of no such decorum. In his life, John McCain exemplified the duality of politics: the ability to give rousing speeches in service to morality and the better angels of our nature, and then turn around and auction off native lands to fossil fuel companies, deprive citizens of healthcare, push for the Iraq War and otherwise act like a reprehensible, arch-conservative warmonger.
I’m sure John McCain’s family is stricken with grief right now. I’m sorry their patriarch was such a reprehensible human being, I’m sure the vast fortune he leaves behind will console them just fine. Feel as you wish, the dead don’t complain about their treatment; the reactions to criticism of McCain’s public service record tell a lot about those complaining of indecency and vulgarity while overlooking what the man actually did. I think the world is a better place with him gone and was greatly harmed by his time spent on it.
I’m sure it was indescribably awful being held as a prisoner of war. That said, it doesn’t negate what the man did after. We are the sum total of what we do in life, not our most difficult achievement. He made token motions against his own party at times, but only because he felt personally aggrieved — by both George W. Bush and Donald Trump. He also did little more than offer token lip service to humanity, and almost always voted in line with his party and against the American populace.
The best anyone can say is that he once corrected a woman who accused Obama of being “an Arab.” McCain countered that, “no, actually he’s a decent man with a family” — like that’s somehow mutually exclusive with being “an Arab.” Fuck him, I’m glad he’s gone.