Political Corpses as Propaganda Props

political corpses
The flag-draped casket of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is carried to a hearse from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Washington, for a departure to the Washington National Cathedral for a memorial service. McCain died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The week-long deification of the late John McCain was quite the deep-state performance:  Three “state funerals”(in Phoenix, D.C., and Annapolis) accompanied by the constant clucking of the “mainstream” media about how the epitome of a deep-state insider — son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals, mass murderer of Vietnamese peasants, “Keating Five” criminal conspirator, friend of “the right kind” of Middle East terrorists, lifelong government employee whose senate office was ground zero for defense industry lobbyists for the past several decades — is somehow an anti-establishment “maverick.” The televised sobbing of the very appropriately named Senator Jeff Flake was rich, as were proposals to name a government building after McCain and the seemingly endless feigned sorrow in the voices of  television talking heads.

Deep state propagandists and their media apologists apparently believe that a dead politician can be worth his weight in gold if a big enough spectacle of lies and superstitions can be concocted after the “great man’s” demise and used in support of the current regime. As Murray Rothbard argued in an essay entitled “The Nature of the State,” “it is precisely the function of the State’s ideological minions and allies to explain to the public that the Emperor does indeed have a fine set of clothes . . .  The age-old success of the ideologists of the State is perhaps the most gigantic hoax in the history of mankind.”

As with so many other statist stunts and superstitions, it all started with Lincoln.  As Larry Tagg wrote in his book, , during his lifetime Lincoln was by far the most hated and despised of all U.S. presidents but became a “sudden saint” in death. On page 461 of his book Tagg quotes a May 1865 editorial in the New York Times about how “No living man was ever charged with political crimes of such multiplicity and such enormity as Abraham Lincoln.”  The Times was referring to the words of Northern opinion makers.  “He has been denounced,” wrote the Times, as “a perjurer, a usurper, a tyrant, a subverter of the Constitution, a destroyer of the liberties of his country, a reckless desperado, a heartless trifler over the last agonies of an expiring nation.”

Immediately after he was assassinated, writes Tagg, the Republican Party, aided by the bloodthirsty, neo-Puritanical New England clergy, went to work tuning Lincoln into something quite the opposite of what he really was.   Radical Republican Senator James W. Grimes, who had previously denounced Lincoln as “a disgrace,” predicted that “Mr. Lincoln is to be hereafter regarded as a saint.  Even the “Radical Republicans,” who were Lincoln’s fiercest political enemies, “saw that his death was a propaganda windfall” for the Republican Party, writes Tagg.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton got the ball rolling by shoving aside Mrs. Lincoln and having the War Department take charge of the funeral, making “the martyr’s corpse a traveling exhibit of Southern wickedness.”  He did so by arranging for the corpse to travel by slow train some 1,600 miles to be on display for all the cities and towns of the North to see.  Strict orders were given to undertakers to not touch up the corpse.  As the New York Herald explained:  “The eye and upper part of the cheeks are still discolored by the effects of the cruel shot which caused his death.  It was proposed to remove the discoloration from his face by chemical processes, but the Secretary of War insisted that it . . . . should be allowed to remain” as is.

The New York preacher Henry Ward Beecher had attacked and ridiculed Lincoln for four long years, but was quickly on board with the Republican Party’s deification stunt, announcing that Lincoln was in reality “a simple, truthful, noble soul, our faithful and sainted Lincoln.”  Republican Party thugs did everything they could to respond to any dissent with brutality.  When a man in Chicago was overheard saying “Lincoln had it coming” he was gunned down in the lobby of a hotel in front of dozens of witnesses, none of whom objected and there was no arrest.  Hundreds were imprisoned for being overheard approving of Lincoln’s death.  The editor of a Maryland newspaper was murdered by a mob after publishing an editorial criticism of Lincoln a few days after his assassination.

In the South, ministers were ordered to give mandatory sermons and newspapers forced to express sympathy for the man who had just micromanaged the death of hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens and bombed many of their cities and towns into smoldering ruins.  Many Southern journals had new editors installed by the Republican Party to assure that Southerners would hear only about the new, reinvented Lincoln.

Republican Party newspapers compared Lincoln to Moses, saying he led his people to a promised land.  Some even compared the atheistic Lincoln to Christ himself, reminding readers that he died on Good Friday.  Harpers Weekly even ran an image of an angel ascending to the sky from an open tomb.  The angel had Lincoln’s ugly, pock-marked head attached to its winged body.

Despite all the over-the-top worshipping of odious John McCain, it is unlikely that any modern-day publication is zany enough to compare McCain to Christ.  Mother Teresa, maybe, or perhaps one of the apostles, but not God Himself.


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