De mortuis nil nisi bonum

Jeane Kirkpatrick apparently died in her sleep last night. She was 80.

I yelled at her once. Not that she likely heard me, mind you, as she was at the time being yelled at by a lot of people. But I did yell at her.

Twas way back in the early eighties, when she was the US ambassador to the United Nations. She had come to the University of Minnesota to give a speech, which speech at the Northrup Auditorium was booed and jeered and heckled by many dozens of the students and guests present. I myself sat politely and just quietly listened and observed, until she began taking questions. Someone asked if we, meaning the United States and its citizens, bore some responsibility for the killings and atrocities and torture being carried out by the government of El Salvador, and by its proxies and death squads, since we supported the junta so heavily.

Ambassador Kilpatrick, with venomous condescention, explained, that by the same logic, the Americans who protested the Vietnam War now bore the responsibility for the behavior of the government in Hanoi. Oh, I was so mad. I stood up and just shouted obscenities at her.

Later, since it was the first Wednesday of the month, and around noon, we held our usual die-in1 on the steps of the auditorium. A news photographer snapped a picture of us, which photo ended up on the front page of the Minnesota Daily the next morning. You can see me beatifically propped on the steps in the background. I still have a copy. Found it recently when cleaning out the filing cabinet.


1 A die-in was like a sit-in, except that instead of sitting, you’d like fall down and pretend to be dead for five minutes. This we did on the first Wednesday of every month, when the civil defense sirens would go off. Maybe it wasn’t noon when they tested them. Maybe it was one. Or maybe noon. Doesn’t matter. The point was to protest the idea that maybe sirens and fallout shelters weren’t a particular wise policy vis-à-vis nuclear war. Maybe preventing nuclear war was the way to go.

One thought on “De mortuis nil nisi bonum

  1. You go, Ed. Exercise that freedom of speech, and let ’em have it. Like the neo-cons with which we are currently afflicted in this country, she seemed to be someone who disdained opinions that differed with hers.

Comments are closed.