In ancient Athens, the great lawmaker Solon passed a law banning ‘laceration of the flesh by mourners’, ‘the sacrifice of an ox at the grave’, and other ‘unmanly and effeminate extravagances of sorrow’.
Cockburn has come to appreciate the wisdom of Solon. The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday night caused an instant outpouring of…well, mourning isn’t exactly the right word. It was a hysterical outburst, an explosion of mass delirium: greater exhibitions of neurosis were taken as proof of greater commitment to the cause. So great was the wailing and gnashing of teeth, you would think that Ginsburg’s death has caused all Planned Parenthoods to close, and birth control pills to lose their contraceptive powers.
I haven't stopped crying in 15 min. I wipe those tears every minute but they keep coming back. My mom doesn't speak a word of English, but she has the same values that #RBG portrayed for her entire life. I am lost and feel so empty. Been sitting on the floor just.. balling..
— Irtaza Khalid (@irtazaakhalid) September 19, 2020
I started crying and my kids were like what happened mom?! I tell them a hero died. My son says you mean like Iron Man? I said no like Wonder Woman.
— sima sistani (@SimaSistani) September 19, 2020
There were plenty more. CNN host Reza Azlan skipped past the overwrought lamentation stage to hysterically threatening political violence — a sort promise of blood sacrifice in Ginsburg’s honor.
Over our dead bodies. Literally. https://t.co/rQbvuKakHU
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) September 19, 2020
The Cockburn award for most cringeworthy tweet, however, goes to one San Francisco mother, who tweeted:
Cockburn hopes for the daughter’s sake that mommy made that up.
None of this, of course, is truly about Ginsburg’s own judicial career. Few even among ardent liberals could name a crucial Court decision authored by Ginsburg, and fewer still could explain how her judicial philosophy differed from earlier Court liberals or influenced the ones after her.
Nor is any of the outpouring of emotion about Ginsburg’s own beliefs, which in many ways clashed with the wokeness of the present. While the contemporary left demands the ruthless cancellation and personal destruction of all foes, Ginsburg was close friends with fellow justice Antonin Scalia. She carried a keychain given to her by Strom Thurmond, and once delivered a speech praising the career of Confederate attorney general and slaveowner Judah P. Benjamin. In 2016, Ginsburg ridiculed Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests; a white male who borrowed her words (‘stupid’, ‘dumb’, ‘ridiculous’) today would risk losing his job or worse, a Twitter ban.
In fact, even Ginsburg’s jurisprudence can sound deeply out of step with contemporary liberalism. Ginsburg’s ruling in United States v. Virginia, ordering the admission of women into VMI, may have been a great victory for equality of the sexes at the time, but if uttered today would lead to cancellation by the transgender movement: ‘Inherent differences between men and women, we have come to appreciate, remain cause for celebration,’ Ginsburg wrote.
No, the veneration of the ‘Notorious RBG’, and the potentially violent response to her death, are about two things essentially unrelated to Ginsburg: the American left’s sacralization of abortion, and its millennarian belief in its own political destiny. Ginsburg’s departure is perceived as a threat to the former and a roadblock to the latter. When journalists and Democratic lawmakers warn us that an attempt to replace Ginsburg will bring on a political crisis, just like so many other things in 2020, it will be yet more projection. They will call it a crisis so they have an excuse to create one.