Send To Printer Email to Friend

How Dare They Tell Us How to Mourn?
By Monica Friedlander

For more than a year they've been telling us what we're supposed to think, what we're supposed to feel, what we're allowed to believe in as Americans. And now, while we grieve the loss of one of our best, they have the chutzpah to dictate to us how we're allowed to mourn?!

And to punish us for not doing even that by their rulebook, the holier-than-thou governor of Minnesota is going back on his word and will not appoint a Democrat in Wellstone's stead. That is a slap in the face of Paul Wellstone, his family, Minnesotans, and other good people nationwide still grieving. How dare he and the Republicans take advantage of our grief and berate us for how we choose to express our sorrow?

No, we will not apologize for remembering Paul Wellstone by exhorting his ideals, crying out for justice, and reminding people of the cause for which this man gave his life. This is how Paul Wellstone's family chose to celebrate his life. How dare they stand in judgment? How dare they sit in their ivory towers and tell us that we have no right to invoke the cause championed by the man we mourn?

That, while the unelected Republican president campaigns for Wellstone's opponent at taxpayers' expense in Air Force One. That, while Newt Gingrich not only attacked Walter Mondale before he even decided whether to run, but shamelessly lied about his record and his stands.

They, whose leader has taken the reins of government not by popular vote but by appointment by a partisan Supreme Court, have the nerve to tell us that we're too partisan!

They, who stand to gain from this tragedy, have the nerve tell two grieving sons who lost their parents and sister how to remember their loved ones!

And they, who have called Wellstone unpatriotic for daring to vote his conscience, are striking back at his memory by attacking a memorial service!

Republicans control every branch of government but the Senate. They rule with an iron fist, allowing no dissent, putting our Constitution through the shredder, intimidating people from voting, and starting wars in our name. Don't Democrats have a right, on the occasion of this devastating tragedy, to came together under one roof and remind us that this is not what Paul Wellstone stood for?

Wellstone's friends and family, overcome by grief and emotion, asked but one thing: that we continue his legacy, and that we win one more election for Paul. How many times have Republicans asked people to win one "for the Gipper"? And now, in our hour of grief, we are demonized for asking Democrats to win one for Paul.

Yes, the public memorial service for Paul Wellstone resembled a rally. Few would deny that. Paul Wellstone wouldn't have had it any other way. Maybe emotions ran higher than they do at most memorials. But we are not living normal times and this was not a memorial like all others.

Every person in that crowd hurt desperately, not just for the loss of those they loved, but for having lost their voice in Congress, for having lost someone to stand up for them, for having lost their senator only two years after their vote for president was voided.

There was real pain and anger in that hallâ??despair almost at times. These were real feelings. How dare they put us down for hurting? It was one of our heroes who died. Can't they show Paul Wellstone enough respect to allow his friends, family and supporters to mourn their way?

Tuesday night's event was a time for those who loved and respected Paul Wellstone to come together and be themselves. This was one event that could not be orchestrated or ruined by Republicans. So much so that the family asked that Vice President Cheney stay away. This was not the GOP's event, and no one asked their opinion on how to run it.

The Republicans stand to benefit from Wellstone's death by having this resounding voice for reason and common sense silenced. They didn't wait until Wellstone was in his grave to start attacking his successor. And they have the nerve to tell us there's only ONE proper way to mourn?

They tell us all this was inappropriate. We ask: TO WHOM?

Tens of thousands of people came to pay their respects. None but a handful who never understood what Paul Wellstone was all about found anything disrespectful about the memorial. They had one last chance to recall his ideals and share the stage with the Democratic Party's best, those whom Wellstone most admired: Gore, Kennedy, Clinton, Harkin, Mondale, and others who championed his ideals.

To Ventura, and the Republicans, and the media who stand in ruthless judgment, to them all we now say unequivocally and unapologetically: We will mourn any way we like. In Paul Wellstone's name we will continue to fight his fight. And yes, in his name we will ask voters to elect other people like him, who stand up for the old and the poor and the sick and the disenfranchised. Those who try to deny us our right to mourn sure as hell will not. In Paul Wellstone's name, we will, as his friends asked us, stand up and keep fighting.