Speaking Ill of the Dead: On Margaret Thatcher

The conventions of polite society dictate that we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. But the truth of the matter is that Margaret Thatcher was a first class bitch. The “Iron Lady,” as she is, or now, was, often referred to, suggests that her no-nonsense, tough demeanor and often-callous exterior provided Britain with a formidable prime minister. Thatcher had been ailing for some time and was 87 years old when she died of a stroke.

Margaret Thatcher was elected as a conservative to become the first, and so far, only woman Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979. She served as Prime Minister for 11 years, finally agreeing to resign office in 1990. Along with Ronald Reagan, she is viewed as a cold war hero who helped bring about the fall of communism and the Soviet Union in 1989. She was a fearless champion of free economic markets and “democracy” all over the world. In 1982 she put a stop to Argentina’s claim and invasion of the Falkland Islands, thus bringing about the fall of Argentinean President Leopoldo Galtieri. Galtieri’s fall also ushered in a more modern democracy to Argentina thanks to Maggie’s efforts.

Perhaps most disturbing about her reign is her unwavering support for that mass murderer Chile Augusto Pinochet. On that other September 11th, this one in 1973, General Pinochet violently took control away from Marxist Salvador Allende, with the support of the United States. Thousands of Chileans were “disappeared” during Chile’s dirty war—again with U. S. support. Many years later, when Pinochet found himself under house arrest in England, Maggie flew to his defense and even went so far as to visit the tyrant.

I know that by speaking ill of Baroness Thatcher I may be opening myself up to criticism from feminists all over the world. Questions like, “why are strong women referred to as bitches while men are praised for their strength” really have no place here. The simple facts are that Thatcher condemned thousands of people in and outside Great Britain to extreme poverty and a lack of basic human dignity in favor of less government involvement in their lives. Ask the people of Northern Ireland what she did for them. Ask the poor and the underrepresented of England what she did for them? What Thatcher was good at was making the rich richer. She was a model politician, but she was not a model human being.

Like Ronald Reagan, with whom she enjoyed a particularly close relationship, she felt that murder and brutality constituted the lesser of two evils in comparison with communism. Both leaders sold their souls for a free and open market, which we know, is not really all that free and open. I wonder if Maggie knew that Ronnie was slowly losing his mind during his reign? Their close bond was an unwavering fear of the spread of communism and a belief that government should not take an active role in the lives of people. Thatcher successfully began a wide-sweeping privatization project that would send unemployment in Britain to record numbers in the early 1980s. Scores of social programs would fold, leaving millions of Britons literally out in the cold.

This week sees the long-awaited funeral of one of the cold war’s most notorious leaders. Christopher Hitchens frequently said that he dreamt of the day when he could write the obituaries of those politicians and public figures that profited from criminal behavior. I’m not sure I would go so far as to call Thatcher a criminal, but she did walk a thin line for the sake of a free market. All over Britain I have seen pictures of people holding signs that state: “Ding-Ding the Witch is Dead.” Last week the song, originally from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, reached number 2 on the UK charts.

Indeed, the witch is dead but is her legacy dead as well?

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