Let Us Now Praise Cold, Dead Hands
I didn’t know Charlton Heston personally, so I’m not specifically glad that he’s dead, though it’s fair to say I’m not specifically sad, either.
But the news of his death on April 5th—and the encomiums to this homophobic, right-wing gun nut, which have followed their tried, true (barely), and all-too-predictable hagiographic course—are just the spur for a bit of posthumous venom.
After all, when Reagan croaked in 2004, there wasn’t nearly enough acknowledgement of his single-minded devotion to the unmaking of virtually every positive political and public-policy gain that the America of the Miltown-and-forgetfulness-50s had managed to initiate during the twenty-five years before he became president. And his biography on Wikipedia still isn’t marked with the AntiChrist® logo that it so richly deserves.
Because I look at it this way: When Fidel Castro dies, as he’s bound to do before much longer, the US press (along with the vox populi, vox dementis of the internet) is going to be full of slobber-flecked stories in which he’s described as a tyrant and a rat bastard, with gratuitous comparisons to Stalin and Hitler pretty much the carte du jour.
But Heston’s decades-long contributions to the proliferation of Friendly Fascism in America are relegated to a paragraph at the end of his obituaries (including, for God’s sake, the one in the New York Times), in which he’s given a great, big, democratic atta-boy for “speaking up” in favor of the “causes he believed in.”
If that’s what he stood for, Chuck ought to be cheering for me from the right hand of God.
Assuming that’s where you go after you’ve been responsible (does it really matter if we say “directly” or “indirectly”?) for the deaths of tens of thousands of people who wouldn’t be dead if you hadn’t helped make it possible to own an SOF Combat Assault Rifle with Grendel 6.5 armor-piercing bullets (strictly for hunting, of course) or—let’s talk about the much more common case—if you and your hordes of lobbyist-demons hadn’t derailed every reasonable attempt to make it slightly more difficult to lay one’s hands on a pistol, Saturday Night Special, or other “cute little gun” (like the one Nancy Reagan famously boasted of keeping in her bedroom).
Charlton Heston, a man who, even in his twenties, looked as though he’d fallen into a tannery vat as a child and been left there for quite a while before anyone noticed, was a despot and a totalitarian who somehow managed to disguise his raving as “democracy” (much more bang for your buck than parting the Red Sea, as far as miracles go).
He worked to keep those fucking queers out of the military and to protect impressionable minds from hearing bad words (otherwise known as censorship), managing all the while not to strangle on the irony of supporting gun ownership as a “protected liberty” while considering the making of a rap record with nasty lyrics to be an example of the “culture wars” that were “storming our values and assaulting our freedoms.” (Saying you’d like to shoot a cop = EVIL. Owning a gun so you could shoot a cop if you wanted to = GOOD. I so confuse….)
When people like Heston stand on their bully pulpits and start throwing around words like “our,” the only comfort comes in being absolutely certain he doesn’t mean you.