It’s Thursday, and in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, that means it’s the designated day for Jazz to pen columns which get everyone angry. So, without further ado, let us turn to a decision by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lower the flags to half staff in honor of the death of singer Whitney Houston.
Fending off fierce criticism for planning to lower flags at state buildings the day of Whitney Houston’s funeral, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the late singer is not a role model but has earned the honor as a cultural icon.
Christie on Wednesday said he’s disturbed people are disparaging Houston’s accomplishments because of her troubles with substance abuse.
“This is a disease that some people struggle with and conquer on a day-to-day basis, and some people succumb to it. And I don’t believe that that should diminish the other contributions they’ve made in their life,” Christie said.
With all due respect to Rush, there’s something wrong going on here. There’s no sense sugar coating this, so let’s get straight to it. Whitney Houston was not unknown to me, though I never saw the movie “The Bodyguard.” She had one heck of a set of pipes. But at the same time, she wasn’t kidnapped and murdered by terrorists. She died under some set of circumstances which the police are not yet even listing as suspicious. She had a troubled marriage and a history of problems with drugs and alcohol. Neither of these things make her any better or worse than the rest of us, though it is still tragic when someone passes at such a young age.
Lowering the flags for her? She was a singer. As the WCHS report notes, after researching previous executive orders, the flags were not lowered for Frank Sinatra. In fact, the first “celebrity” person (as opposed to military or elected leaders) for whom the flags were lowered was Clarence Clemons, and that was done by Christie also. (For the record, I’m a HUGE fan of The Boss and the Big Man, but never heard that he had lowered the flags for Clemons, which I would have objected to as well.)
Lowering the flags for national disasters, etc. is fine. But for this? Whitney Houston was a wealthy woman who achieved fantastic success in the field of opportunity which is America. She was a great singer. She died in a tragic fashion as far too many Americans do. But this is not a national tragedy.
This is getting far too much like the recent decision to name a US Navy warship after Gabby Giffords. I’ve been a huge supporter of her tremendous effort to come back after that horrific attack, but naming a ship after her? We have a massive list of dead Marines who are in line first. I’m just saying we need to keep our priorities in order.