In Wolfgang Peterson’s 2004 epic movie “Troy,” Priam, the king of Troy, visits Achilles in the Greek camp. Achilles has just killed Priam’s son, Hector. Priam comes to beg for his body. Achilles, impressed by Priam’s courage, reminds him that even if he gives him the body, they’ll still be enemies tomorrow.
Priam’s responds, “You’re still my enemy tonight. But even enemies can show respect.”
Respect for those who disagree with you or who are your political enemies is important. Over the past few days, we see a contrast between those on the right and those on the left when it comes to respecting those who are “enemies.”
David Koch, billionaire businessman from Wichita, KS, who, along with his brother Charles, was active in supporting conservative causes died on August 23, 2019. Koch was unorthodox in his views. He and his organization opposed many Obama administration policies and supported Republicans over Democrats in Congress. Koch, though, was not a fan of President Trump and was more libertarian in his views and often a social liberal.
Charles Koch wrote of his brother just after his passing, “Twenty-seven years ago, David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years to live. David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay. We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result.”
How did the left react to Koch’s death?
Maher is not alone in speaking ill of the deceased. Salon’s Amanda Marcotte tweeted, “I see some celebrating David Koch’s death. I’m not. I wish every major climate change denialist lived to be 200 years old, so they can see the horrors they are unleashing on the rest of us.”
Frederick Joseph, who was on Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work in expanding media representation tweeted, “David Koch is gone. It’s a celebration.”
Will Bunch, national opinion columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, tweeted, “I’m sure David Koch loved his grandkids or whatever, but the reality is that he and his greedy generation in Big Business and politics set the world on fire from Alaska to the Amazon, and now they won’t be around to watch the flames consume the rest of us.”
Jordan Weissmann, a writer for Slate, tweeted, “David Koch was a villain who devoted his wealth to further enriching himself and his fellow plutocrats, while spinning us all toward environmental doom. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, I hope his soul suffers for eternity.”
The list of hateful, vile tweets goes on and on. To his credit, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) scolded the crowd at the Minnesota State Fair saying, “I don’t applaud, you know, the death of somebody. We needn’t do that.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), however, declined to rebut applause as she dug into the Koch brothers and other billionaires funding right-wing groups while speaking at a Seattle town hall the next day.
The vast majority of the left seemed to celebrate David Koch’s death.
Other news hit this week, too. It was announced that 86-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg completed a three-week treatment for pancreatic cancer. In a testament to her remarkable spirit, CNBC reports, “The court said that because of Ginsburg’s treatment, she cancelled her annual trip to Santa Fe, where she typically travels in the summer to appreciate the local opera and art scene. But, it noted, she has ‘otherwise maintained an active schedule.’”
President Donald Trump, with whom Justice Ginsburg rarely if ever agrees, said of her while he was in France, “I’m hoping she’s going to be fine. She’s pulled through a lot. She’s strong, very tough.”
It’s noteworthy that Justice Ginsburg’s closest friend on the Court was Justice Scalia. Eugene Scalia, Justice Scalia’s son, said in a CNN interview about the remarkable friendship of his father and Justice Ginsburg, “Their ability to engage on ideas and yet respect one another’s abilities and maintain a friendship is an instructive lesson. And I think they would both heartily agree that we want to have people on two sides of an issue to explain what the right answer is.”
Wes Walker, editor of Clash Daily, wrote of Justice Ginsburg on August 23, 2019, “We wish her all the best in her recovery, and while we would not object in the least if she decided to retire, we wish her no ill on a personal level.” That’s the way most of us think about this situation.
Kurt Schlichter, in Town Hall on August 26, 2019 echoed Walker’s message about Justice Ginsburg.
“Most of us feel a grudging respect for Ginsburg as a worthy opponent and as one tough cookie. She’s like John McCain with a neck doily; he drove us up the wall too, but as a group we did not wish cancer on him.” He summarizes, “she’s very old and she’s very sick and facing that reality is not the same as high-fiving it.”
I’ll leave it for you to decide what these two news items and their reactions mean. I’ll stand by what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:17, “Show proper respect to everyone.”