Chris Christie comes under fire for lowering flags to honor Whitney Houston
posted at 11:23 am on February 16, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
The official cause of singing icon Whitney Houston’s death last Saturday is yet to be determined, but the performer’s sendoff has already been marred by controversy. First came reports of acrimony between Houston’s family and former husband Bobby Brown, who was declared persona non grata and barred from attending his ex’s funeral in Newark. This was followed by word that Brown was cozying up to their daughter, who is the sole heir to the singer’s estimated $20 million estate.
The latest news story related to Houston’s passing transcends celebrity gossip and has touched a nerve among some people. It centers on a decision by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lower American flags throughout the state to half staff to honor the late singer. Houston, we’ve got a problem.
The Courier-Post, a newspaper based in Cherry Hill, quotes tweets on the topic from several Garden State residents. One is from a retired Marine, who writes, “Why is NJ lowering our American Flag to honor Whitney Houston? Are they all mad???” Another reads, “Our flag is to be used to honor true American heroes, the ones you just disrespected.”
Some of the comments are more pointed, referring to Houston as a “druggie” or as having “od’d,” both allusions to preliminary findings that revealed traces of sedatives in her system.
A statement by Christie, a former board member of Daytop Village, reveals that for him the decision to lower flags is also about drug addiction:
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.
I’m not saying that Whitney Houston is a role model. She’s not a role model in that respect, in every aspect of her life. But what she is is a cultural icon in the history of this state. I’m disturbed by people who believe … because of her history of substance abuse, that somehow she’s forfeited the good things that she did in her life. I just reject that on a human level.
The article points out in closing that Christie has grouped Houston with Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, and Bruce Springsteen in “the pantheon of great New Jersey musical talents,” adding as a footnote that when Sinatra died in 1998, flags were not lowered by then-Gov. Christie Whitman.
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