Let's Sit Quietly Together And Witness Elijah Cummings's Funeral
The funeral for Elijah Cummings will be held today at the church he attended, Baltimore's New Psalmist Baptist Church, starting at 10:00 Eastern. The speakers will include Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and former congressman Kweisi Mfume, whose seat Cummings won in 1996 when Mfume became president of the NAACP. Cummings's widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, will also speak; she's the chair of the Maryland Democratic Party.
Yr Wonkette has the Washington Post's livestream below; you can also view the services at CSPAN starting at 10.
Watch live 10:00 a.m.: Rep. Elijah Cummings to be honored by Obama, Clinton at funeral youtu.be
Cummings, a fighter for civil rights and basic decency, died last Thursday in hospice care in Baltimore, at the age of 68. He hadn't been in Congress for a roll call vote since September, but continued with committee work right up until the end, sending out subpoenas just hours before he passed away.
Elijah Cummings's prominence as an opponent of Donald Trump's racism, inhuman border policies, and abuses of office made him a target for abuse by the "president" and his online troll army. Expect the Usual Suspects to pretend they're shocked and horrified by any statements at the memorial that might be deemed to "politicize" the services for a man who used political office to do good. There's already been some tut-tutting (and some very unseemly celebration) of a pallbearer's passing over Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy while shaking hands with lawmakers at the Capitol yesterday.
For our money, there's no better discussion of the rampant bad faith in condemning "politics" at a politician's memorial than the chapter on the 2002 celebration of Sen. Paul Wellstone's life, in Al Franken's book Lies: And the Lying Liars who Tell Them. (A 2001 recap by Franken can be found here). Minnesotans loved Wellstone, and a couple of speakers at the memorial went beyond remembering his dedication to fighting the good fight, calling on Minnesotans to win the upcoming election "for Paul." Some people in the crowd -- not the entire stadium -- booed Republican Trent Lott. But that was enough for very sensitive folks on the right, like etiquette expert Rush Limbaugh who hadn't actually watched the event, to gripe that the service had been undignified and a great shame, and then to start lying endlessly about how the entire service was a political rally with a "planted" partisan crowd, where those terrible liberals trashed George Bush and America all day.
Update: As it happens, today is the anniversary of the plane crash that killed Wellstone, his wife Shiela, and their daughter Marcia, as well as the two pilots and two of Wellstone's campaign aides.
Today's memorial will be in a church, not a football stadium, but the rightwing Civility Police have become ever more watchful, and we don't doubt for a moment that if any of the speakers so much as mentions anything "political," however obliquely, the sound of pearls being clutched will be deafening. What if Barack Obama mentions his own family, like the narcissist he is? Or if Hillary Clinton talks too sharply about Cummings's basic decency? Surely that would be a slur on the current "president!"
Good lord, what if someone at a funeral for a champion of civil rights mentions race?
Even if nothing objectionable is said, we don't doubt someone will take offense that all the speakers were Democrats.
But look at us, getting "political" at such a somber time. Elijah Cummings was a brilliant man, a passionate believer in the power of politics to do good, and he certainly won't mind if people get a little emotional today, Amen.
Livebloggish comments, to be added when we feel like it:
10:42: Hillary's reference to the biblical Elijah standing up to the "corrupt King Ahab and Queen Jezebel" went over big with this biblically-literate crowd. HILLARY CALLED MELON A JEZEBEL, OMG!!!!!
10:53: Nancy Pelosi has been crying. She noted that it's traditional to leave a seat at the table for the prophet Elijah, and that Elijah Cummings "always made a place at the table" for others. And now we're tearing up a little too.
11:05: Kweisi Mfume says he and Cumings would occasionally call each other on their birthdays, but not every year, to keep it a surprise. Yesterday was Mfume's birthday, "and I didn't get a call from my friend." That was lovely.
11:12: Mfume's affection for his friend is just beautiful. Truly a moving tribute, connecting the history of black America to the achievements of Cummings, and to "the young Elijahs" yet to come.
11:25: Johns Hopkins law prof Larry Gibson's reminiscences of his friend were so sweet. No rhetorical fireworks, just love.
11:45: Cummings's daughter Jennifer is simply making us sniffle constantly. What a fine dad, what a fine daughter.
11:51: Adia Cummings is wonderful, too. "A parent's job is to see their child as God sees them." And that's how we should all see each other. Don't care if it's from a greeting card, don't care that I'm not a believer, that's perfect.
11:55: James Cummings, Elijah's younger brother, reveals the family all called the congressman "Bobby" because an aunt didn't like the name "Elijah." And James goes by his middle name, Al. Could we please get a DVD of their family dinners?
12:04: John Alexander, who was mentored by Cummings and was on his first-term staff, recalls that when he was going through a rough patch, Cummings told him "I won't let you fall." What more can one person say for another? Yeah, more tears, shut up.
12:25: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is giving a passionate speech about her late husband's commitments to fighting for good government and for the planet. Yes, people will say it's essentially an announcement speech for her bid to succeed him in the seat, and we don't see anything wrong with that.
12:33: Bill Clinton recalls having to follow Elijah Cummings at an appearance in 1992, says he's relieved he doesn't have to try to top Barack Obama today. :)
10:35: Clinton recalls the prophet Isaiah saying, "Here am I, lord, send me." And that was always Elijah Cummings: "send me."
10:40: Praising Cummings's dedication to his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution is definitely intended as a comparison to another current figure, yes it is.
12:42: "You can't run a free society if you have to hate everybody you disagree with." Amen.
(Amended to add, "but some people seem determined to make that difficult.)
12:50: The President is speaking. Sometimes people say they're praying for you, but you aren't sure. They may be praying about you. But Elijah Cummings's mother, he could tell.
12:55: "Being a strong man includes being kind. There's nothing weak about compassion. There's nothing weak about being honorable. You're not a sucker to have integrity." Again, that one was pointed, as is the observation that not everyone with "The hon." before their name are actually honorable. But Cummings "was honorable before he ever took office."
12:58: "He reminded us our time is too short not to fight for what is best, for what is true, for what is best about America."
1:00: Oh, how we miss a president who speaks in full sentences. While we search for a video clip of Obama's speech, here's another sample of Maya Rockeymoore Cummings:
1:05: Here we go!
1:10: Bishop Walter Thomas: We often speak of "speaking truth to power." But all too often, power isn't there. Today, he says, the powerful are all here, and let's hope they're listening to Elijah Cummings (I am paraphrasing like crazy here).
1:20: This is some preaching!
1:40: And that was a beautiful farewell for a true exemplar of a human being. It is well with my soul.
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