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Stateside: The Mum is dead, long live the Mum

Stateside with Rosalea

The Mum is dead, long live the Mum

Here's a cartoon I'd like to see: the Queen Mum is leaning down out of her cloud in heaven, grabbing two young whippersnappers by the ears and banging their daft heads together. "Ariel! Yasser! If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times..." After all, she is old enough to be their mum, and it was during her husband's reign - at midnight on May 14, 1948 - that the British Mandate for Palestine ended and the State of Israel was proclaimed.

I was surprised at how much coverage the TV channels here are giving her death - until I remembered that she is a product of the United States. If her brother-in-law had not abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, Elizabeth would have remained in the background, not the forefront of royal life. It's as a privileged old lady in a pastel dress with a matching lightweight coat and hat, and defiantly tobacco-stained teeth, that she will be remembered by people of my generation. I hope the witty lyrics of Loudon Wainwright III's song 'Heaven' prove to be true: "That's right, smoking's allowed; it's what makes all those clouds."

Stroking, too, has caused a few clouds, at least for the Catholic Church. This morning's 'Meet The Press' devoted most of the programme to a roundtable of various churchmen - including a former US ambassador to the Vatican, and a Church lawyer who had warned 17 years ago of the extent of the abuse problem but had been stymied in his efforts to get it addressed before it became a billion-dollar problem. This has been a great weekend for fundamentalist Christians, what with people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths seemingly unable to get along and the Catholic Church heading towards financial meltdown and a schism over whether celibacy is its "crown jewel". Which Catholic star is about to rise on the US political horizon and must be shot down, I ask myself. Or is the sought-after prize simply the conversion of the voting congregation (particularly the immigrants from Catholic countries) to fundamentalist values?

The other two Sunday morning talking heads programmes pretty much stuck with the Grumpy Old Fools crisis. The most interesting coverage of that, however, was on Friday, when the local CBS station invited an Israeli diplomat onto its evening news set and got an almost apoplectic reply when they asked him why the Saudi peace plan shouldn't be implemented. The peace plan should have got an Oscar for best non-peace plan, the diplomat said, incredulous that anyone had been taken in by it. The same news station had conducted a poll on Friday that showed 53 percent of the people surveyed locally supported neither side.

"All we are saying is give peace a chance", would seem to be the message that poll conveys. As was the hand of the distraught Palestinian mother whose teenage daughter felt compelled to be a suicide bomber. Just briefly, in news footage that was shown only once, you saw Mum collapse into the arms of her friends, her hand raised in the peace sign.

The Mum is dead, long live the Mum.

Lea Barker
California
Easter Sunday,
March 31, 2002


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