Shakespeare on McGovern’s Memorial, War, Peace, and Speakers’ Lies

Made such a sinner of his memory to credit his own lie “… like one
Who having unto truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie.”
(Tempest, act 1, sc. 2)

George McGovern, presidential candidate in 1972 who valiantly opposed the Vietnam War, (and when doing so was considered “anti-American”),  died this month. Those who followed McGovern’s memorial in Sioux Falls will no doubt have been reminded of his stand against the Vietnam War. Just about all said they had been inspired by his courage in taking the anti-war position he did. The most extraordinary of the eulogists was Vice-President Biden. He too – he said – had been inspired by McGovern’s courage in denouncing the Vietnam War. Which would bring the casual viewer to ask the question, “If that, as you say, was your inspiration to enter politics, where has that inspiration disappeared? How about the wars in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Yemen, East Timor, Serbia, Afghanistan, Philippines, Ivory Coast, Iraq, Liberia, Georgia, Djibouti, Haiti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Libya, Uganda, and now Syria, plus the drum beat against Iran. No one has ever heard one word of yours in disapproval. How about the 1000 military bases scattered throughout the world?”

That the deputy of the leader of the “free world” (as the corporate media does not fail to endlessly repeat) may have the gall to call himself a follower of the McGovern anti-war sentiment, exceeds the limits of disbelief. Or we could apply to the Vice-President Prospero’s words, that Biden has made such a sinner of his memory to credit his own lie(s).

McGovern’s indeed courageous declaration in the Senate is worth reading as a counterweight to the facelessness of those politicians who pretend to be his followers.

“Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.”

Tips for Use. Elegant way to point to a liar. ‘You have made such a sinner of your memory to credit your own lie.’

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In the Play.  Prospero refers to Antonio, his brother, who surreptitiously usurped the dukedom that belonged to Prospero

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