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OPINION | Dying wishes need to be buried  

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HAGÅTÑA — As much as I admire the late great Ruth Bader Ginsberg, I am sorry to say that this last dying wish of hers has got me all kinds of bothered.

First and foremost, the running of the government must serve the people who are living, plain and simple. If it is to sustain the wishes of the dead, then it is not possible for it to be relevant to the needs of those who survive. We can be certain that Thomas Jefferson wanted Monticello to continue growing and cultivating crops forever as though he never died; he probably expressed it in a dying wish to someone. However, this would have required slaves.

Can you imagine arguing against the Emancipation Proclamation with, “But it was our great founder’s dying wish for Monticello to continue as it did when he lived!!!”? Pretty preposterous, no?

Whatever the arguments there are for suspending the selection of the next Supreme Court justice, they cannot include RGB’s wish. To use it is utter hogwash.

But what is valid is to reference the similar delay taken when Barack Obama was leaving office. It is a fine argument to make, in fact, precedent tends to rule most matters. If it was done once and it was okay, then it can be done twice.

It is similarly proper for capitol Democrats to throw as many wrenches in the works and enhance the difficulties of their Republican counterparts to confirm the new nominee. Again, this is totally reasonable. Butting heads is what they do — what they’re supposed to do.

It is also fair game to dredge up the most scandalous behavior in the nominee’s past — or even make it up, everybody knows that’s just how the game is played. All sane individuals, Democrat, Republican or independent, have realized long ago that anyone’s sexual life (unless it's criminal such as pedophilia or rape) is a snooze fest, except for the media and other politicians; yet we endure it’s nauseating parlance as though it really matters when we vote. It doesn’t.

But here’s my real issue: Washington and the Supreme Court are not a tribe unto themselves that can summon the spirits of its elders the way indigenous cultures do. Quite frankly, this appropriation is highly offensive. When Hawaiian people speak of the wishes of their long dead elders, it rings true to their culture and view of the world. The same holds for all native cultures and how they organize eldership and knowledge that passes through generations. Such post-life wishes are contextually correct and accurate.

However, in the capitalist courts of this country, such an appropriation is outrageously out of place. It is cornrows on straight blond hair, blackface on Justin Trudeau, a Native American headdress on Pharrell. Of all times, and in all places, the call to this dying wish is a sickening example of how the unblack and unwhite cultures in this country remain ignored and ignobled.

We are witnessing the smearing of the good name and legacy of a great justice. Her last words, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” will be the first thing we remember of her. Words that were spoken intimately to her granddaughter that was foolishly let loose upon a mad nation. Words mishandled by politicians that have turned a towering and important legacy into an echoing narcissism.

There are three branches of government, each independent of the other. A justice has no say in the processes of the legislature or executive branch. Most especially from the grave.

Death doesn’t need any more exposure. Mourning and contemplation have been replaced by exploitation. Covid-19, guns, bad cops and evil citizens have given us countless reasons to be morbid, but we cannot let the depression be maneuvered by vote-seekers. They can offer us comfort by changing laws and with financial stimuli, but we must ignore all their propaganda about spirituality, and the sin of death. There is no place for preaching in government. It is complete manipulation.

There is much to celebrate and learn from the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is, indeed, a loss to our country that it was cut short during this time of uncertainty. Her life was her legacy. Unless she left money from her estate to finance the selection of her replacement, which would be highly questionable, in the first place, then we all must let her rest in peace and consider only the words of her monumental opinions. These are her words we should take into the future.

Dan Ho, a native of Agat, is a writer and teacher and holds a Ph.D. in indigenous studies. Follow his garden adventures on Instagram @HoandGarden.

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