To Be Remembered

There are various reasons to be remembered in death, as there are reasons to be remembered in life. Two deaths made me think of this: Jimmy Savile and George McGovern. Now I am not saying these two have anything in common, but I have a point I will get to down random path.

I actually have no real notion of who Jimmy Savile was (before all of the recent revelations), he had a silly haircut and I could probably recognise him every other time I saw his picture, other than that I probably half knew he had a tv program and little else. He was by all accounts a popular and well loved chap. In death, he is now reviled.

Being a bit of a politics geek, I am more familiar with George McGovern, for two things in particular: being instrumental in the development of the World Food Programme, and for his disastrous showing in the 1972 presidential campaign. He is half-remembered for the former, and fondly remembered by Republicans for the latter. Though, he did rewrite the election rules for the Democratic party too, in 1970, but that’s a bit esoteric.

I write of the contrast between these two simply for having read The Economist‘s excellent obituary (though, they are always excellent) on McGovern, and realised that he is generally only remembered for his 1972 campaign. Savile, in his obituary in The Telegraph from last year, is referred to as “an odd chap”, but was at the time remembered fondly. Obviously lots of people must be wishing how they could rewrite those, but alas, time is unfortunately linear.

Had the revelations of Savile’s rampant abuse come out before his death, it would be all he would be remembered for, which in light of his crimes, is not a bad thing. I feel sorry for McGovern though. If it weren’t for that campaign, he would  be thought of as a man who was  “devoted to easing the hunger of the poor… [and] advising Americans on what they should eat: less fat and sugar, more vegetables. And, with that, the thought that they should also give up war, [and] hunger for justice”.

On that note, read up about McGovern. He was a generally interesting guy, and should be remembered for far more than he is. Besides, his election campaign was based on the ideas of “swingeing cuts in the defence budget, an end to the war in Vietnam, an amnesty for draft-evaders, universal health care, a guaranteed job for every American and an income above the poverty line for every American household”. Which makes you, well at least certainly me, wonder what it is Americans have against the ideas of common decency; something we will be exploring on this very website in the next day or two. So come back soon.

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  1. […] first,The Challenge and The Will, is on a topic I raised recently on the legacy of George McGovern, but did not have a chance to expand on, in the context of that […]



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