The Gerald Ford Deference Ritual
By Paul Street at Jan 02, 2007
Back to the National-Kiss-the-Ring-of-Power Death Ritual for Gerald Ford. There's so much to find offensive in the ongoing memorial, which culminated (thankfully) in the Ford funeral today. There's the revolting praise heaped again and again – in “liberal” newspaper editorials and by the Worst President Ever today – on Ford's arrogant decision to grant an advance, all-inclusive pardon to the monumental, many-sided war criminal Richard Nixon. We are being told over and over again (by dominant media) that Ford's pardon was a "wise decision" that “healed a nation.”
Never mind that the pardon was vastly unpopular with the American people at the time. The populace found the pardon deeply offensive. The people never forgave Ford for granting Nixon royal exemption from the laws of the land.
Could the not-so hidden dominant media message behind all the Ford as Great Healer and Unassuming Savior of the Nation coverage and commentary be any more obvious? The thought-coordinator class is using Ford's death to signal to We the officially irrelevant People the dysfunctional silliness of our widely held desire to see the Cheney-Bush White House held accountable for its colossal crimes against democracy and humanity – crimes that were and are deeply enabled and encouraged by ruling media elites.
Yesterday we were expected to sit silently and respectfully on our couches and watch the Public Broadcasting System's Nightly News mystifiers respectfully broadcast and respectfully comment on Darth Cheney's sickening Ford oration in the Capitol. The most Evil (and powerful)Vice President Ever likened the openly mediocre Ford to Abraham Lincoln, the nation's actual Greatest President Ever.
We have the mandatory ignoring of Ford's criminal attacks on Cambodia (the forgotten and scurrilous little Mayaguez affair). We have the even more necessary official forgetting/deletion of the bloody green light Ford and his inherited Dr. Strangelove (Henry Kissinger) gave to Indonesia's nearly genocidal invasion of East Timor and of the support the Ford White House proffered to military fascism in Chile.
We have corporate media's incessant, addictive banging on the odious Greatest Generation (Ford was a veteran in the “good war”) Drum, meant to deafen us to the terrible crimes against justice, peace, democracy, and livable ecology that were committed under the supervision of the endlessly self-flattering and earth-befouling WWII generation.
Yes, let us pray yet again to the Great Elders who brought us the interstate highway system and the Crucifixion of Southeast Asia. When is Thomas Brokaw going to climb into a mass grave with the heroes who brought us Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Operation Phoenix...who brought us to within a Soviet submarine commander's decision of nuclear annihilation in the fall of 1962?
Then there's the media spin masters' repeated broadcast of statements from some of our more pathetic and Uncle-Tom-like citizens, who dutifully tell local and national television, newspaper, and radio reporters that they signed a Gerald Ford Condolence Book or traveled to Washington to “show respect for the office.”
“Respect for the office?” With all due respect, what the Hell is that? What is this, feudalism? What about showing some respect for yourself and for the concept of a democracy? Democracy – the purported purpose and ideal of the U.S. – isn't about power worship. Office-holders aren't supposed to get respect because they hold offices – at least they aren't supposed to in a democracy.
Ford didn't earn the respect of the people when he held the nation's highest office through appointment by one of the most corrupt and abusive office-holders of all time. He pardoned a disgraced power abuser and then went on to commit his own significant crimes. And now we're supposed to get all teary-eyed and bow our heads because of... ”respect for the office” Because of our deep and heartfelt respect for Authority as such. Because of our Cringing Deference to Power per se.
Sorry. Not interested.
The thing that offends me most is the way we are expected to cry our ruling-class's dead white males a deferential river of tears while the current blood-soaked war criminals in power produce an ever-expanding new crop of unjustly slaughtered victims within and beyond Iraq. Gerald Ford was rewarded with 92 years on this wonderful earth. On PBS today, I saw the quickly forgotten names and faces of a large number of mostly working-class Americans who didn't get to live past age 22 because of an illegal, racist, and imperialist oil war that was ordered from above, by super-privileged chicken hawk members of the same dominant class that wants us to spend days and days reflecting on the humble greatness of the President who okayed the crucifixion of East Timor and who Let Tricky Dick Run Free. Forget it.
The most offensive thing of all is the differential value we are expected to place on people's lives in accord with their position in the nation's rigid structures of inequality.