Quote of the Day: A Good Death

 

“During these last months the King walked with death as if death were a companion, an acquaintance whom he recognized and did not fear. In the end death came as a friend, and after a happy day of sunshine and sport, and after “good night” to those who loved him best, he fell asleep as every man or woman who strives to fear God and nothing else in the world may hope to do.” — Winston Churchill, February 7, 1952, on the death of King George VI

I think many people hope that this sort of death awaits them, but I doubt it’s an entirely true account of the King’s experience. It’s lovely rhetoric that honors and elevates a respected man and emphasizes his fearlessness.

In contrast, Trump made a point of denigrating Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by saying: “The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.” Although the New York Times can’t seem to understand the rhetorical purpose of Trump’s comments, it seems clear that Trump is appealing to a human ideal of what constitutes a good death and describing Baghdadi’s as the opposite. I’m certainly not saying that Trump is Churchillian in his rhetorical ability, but I do think he understands the power of language to shape our perceptions and “the debate.”

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  1. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Lilly, I love that quote.  Has there ever been a politician who was a better writer than Churchill?  I don’t think so.  In World War II, Churchill showed the power of words in his various speeches in Parliament.  His “Finest Hour“ speech is, in my mind, the best political speech ever written.

    When Trump described the ignominious end of Baghdadi, I think he was speaking not for us, but mainly to the ears of ISIS members, where a heroic death in battle, just the opposite of Baghdadi’s death, is a thing to be admired, a story to be passed down to children to inspire them.  Nothing inspiring about Baghdadi’s death, only cowardice and shame.

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  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Thank you , both. I had not thought much about these aspects of Trump’s announcement.

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  3. Lilly Blanch Coolidge
    Lilly Blanch
    @LillyB

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Lilly, I love that quote. Has there ever been a politician who was a better writer than Churchill? I don’t think so. In World War II, Churchill showed the power of words in his various speeches in Parliament. His “Finest Hour“ speech is, in my mind, the best political speech ever written.

    When Trump described the ignominious end of Baghdadi, I think he was speaking not for us, but mainly to the ears of ISIS members, where a heroic death in battle, just the opposite of Baghdadi’s death, is a thing to be admired, a story to be passed down to children to inspire them. Nothing inspiring about Baghdadi’s death, only cowardice and shame.

    Before Baghdadi’s death, I wanted to post this quote in relation to my own mother’s passing. She was not fearless, especially having over 2 years to contemplate the inevitable. She didn’t like going very many places alone in life, and she really hated the idea of leaving all of us behind. But ultimately, she did fall asleep as King George VI after a day spent with her family by her side. Her desire to keep on living even as her body completely failed her was such a strong rebuke to those who advocate for assisted suicide. The fact of Baghdadi taking his own life and the lives of his children is a major factor that makes the method of his death worthy of condemnation.

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