September 27, 2001
6:58 AM   Subscribe

Sen. John McCain’s eulogy for Mark Bingham, one of the passengers who apparently caused Flight 93 to crash in a field in Pennsylvania. Whether or not you support him politically, McCain is a good man. (via Kausfiles)
posted by luser (24 comments total)
Damn, I wish McCain was my President and Bingham was Vice President.
posted by Dagobert at 7:31 AM on September 27, 2001

It's an even more powerful eulogy to me when I realize that Mark Bingham was one of his openly gay supporters, and that McCain knows that.
posted by mdeatherage at 7:33 AM on September 27, 2001

I am was not a big John McCain fan, but that was touching. I will certainly look at him differently now. Thanks for posting.
posted by Oxydude at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2001

John McCain has always been a classy guy, with a great amount of plain old guts.
posted by bjgeiger at 7:44 AM on September 27, 2001

While Giuliani's supporters work to try to modify the laws in New York so that he can stay in office, I say we start looking into the possibility of moving McCain into the White House as soon as possible. (No, not really, but wouldn't it be great if we could?)
posted by barkingmoose at 7:54 AM on September 27, 2001

I have to remember to keep more Kleenex at my desk. Thanks for a great link, luser.
posted by donnagirl at 7:55 AM on September 27, 2001

I personally know the senator. He has actually helped me in my life.. he is a very very damn good man. I actually worked on his campaign for the presidency.
posted by crackheadmatt at 8:06 AM on September 27, 2001

I admire his eulogy, I honor Mark Bingham, I think McCain is an honest and admirable character. I remain somewhat saddened by his refusal to examine his repeated use of the term "Gook". As a public leader, he should know that regardless of his personal views, that word is in my mind is essentially an asian equivalent to "Nigger", "Faggot" or any other inflamatory hate language. I understand that he went through bad experiences in the war, but I do think he should examine how his use of the term weakens the country which he serves otherwise with such distinction.
posted by mikojava at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2001

Did you go by 'crackheadmatt' when you helped him on his campaign?
posted by Hexaemeron at 8:56 AM on September 27, 2001

The eulogy is a complete travesty without mentioning that Bingham was gay and had a boyfriend. In the grand tradition of don't-ask-or-tell, McCain dances around the truth. If Bingham had been a breeder with a girlfriend, the girlfriend would be right up there in the lede.
posted by joeclark at 9:07 AM on September 27, 2001

My understanding was that McCain uses the word "gooks" only in reference to the people who held him captive; i.e., the guards and prison wardens who brutually tortued him in the many years he was a prisoner of war. His use doesn't include any other Vietnamese.

While it may not be the best course of action, I'm not about to question McCain's use of the terminology when it applies to those people. McCain gets a free pass on that one.
posted by NoMoreLSAT at 9:08 AM on September 27, 2001

For special fun, read the Free Republic thread, where the libertarians and the conservatives tangle it up, using the mature level of debate we have all come to expect from that site. "Hey ... how'd you find this on a GAY website???" (Log Cabin Republicans) "Uh ... my wife does research for AFA! Honest, I wasn't looking for pictures of logs OR cabins!"
posted by dhartung at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2001

I would hardly call the eulogy a travesty because there was not mention of Bingham's homosexuality. I didn't know he was gay until I read this thread, and the fact that he was doesn't make him any more/less a hero.
posted by auzten at 10:16 AM on September 27, 2001

auzten: the way I see, it joeclark was pointing out that if Bingham was a straight man with a girlfriend, McCain probably would have asked the public to support her in this time of grief (or something like that). However, since he was a gay man, his partner (and his partner's grief) is staying invisible....

However, I completely agree that, in such situations, one's sexuality doesn't make one more/less of a hero...
posted by lumiere at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2001

Why is everyone assuming that Bingham *had* a partner anyway?

I'm not saying he did but it seems rather silly that everyone assumes that because one is gay, one is in a relationship.

And if he did have a relationship, then I retract everything.
posted by Dagobert at 1:11 PM on September 27, 2001

I've seen references to Mark's *former* partner (it was a six year relationship), who has been referenced in various news reports, including this one on the memorial service (where he spoke). I hadn't seen anything about a current boyfriend or lover.
posted by bjennings at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2001

Also, every report about Bingham I've read has mentioned that his last call was to his mother. I haven't seen anything to suggest that he called anyone else. I know that, were I in a similar situation, I'd call my significant other before anyone else in the world.
posted by bjennings at 1:40 PM on September 27, 2001

This is an actual question, not an attempt to be snarky. Why does everything have to be about a person's sexual preference? This man died performing a heroic act. Does it matter if he preferred women or men? Is it necessary to use his eulogy as a vehicle to push an agenda? Would he want to be remembered as a gay hero, as opposed to just a hero?

I'm not suggesting that his sexuality be swept under the rug entirely; and as others have pointed out, the fact that Mr. Bingham was gay was addressed in other places. I'm just suggesting that the fact that this man was gay has little or no bearing on his heroism, and as such maybe has no place in a speech eulogizing that heroism. He didn't do what he did because he was gay, or in spite of being gay. He just did it. Why isn't that enough?
posted by jennaratrix at 2:14 PM on September 27, 2001

It isn't enough, Jennaratrix, because gay men have historically been silenced over and over again in the media. Bingham was a 6'5" rugby player who probably died a hero. The fact that he was gay as well could well shatter some stereotypes that some people have about gay men. What's wrong with that?

I can't tell you how many stories about flight 93 that I've read that have mentioned the other male passenger's wives and families, while neglecting to mention that Mark was gay. They all mention that he played rugby, but not the fact that he played IN A GAY LEAGUE. (I didn't even know that there were gay rugby leagues.) Maybe that's not important to you, but it is important to me. It's a detail that adds depth to the portrait that they're painting of him.

Not mentioning the fact that he's gay feels, to this gay man anyway, like an act of cowardice. Like the reporter (or eulogist) is somehow ashamed of it, and wants to sweep it under the rug.
posted by bjennings at 2:40 PM on September 27, 2001

bjennings, thanks for the answer; I'm going to take your word for it, because I'm a straight woman. But I do wonder what Mark Bingham would have preferred. Maybe he would have wanted his sexuality to be stressed; maybe he wouldn't. In either case, I think calling the eulogy a "travesty" is too strong. Also, I'm willing to bet that the text of the eulogy was approved by Mr. Bingham's family; if that's the case, a choice not to mention his sexuality would have been made by people who we could argue have the right (if anyone alive does) to make that decision.
posted by jennaratrix at 2:59 PM on September 27, 2001

Well, I know that Mark was out and proud. In the past few weeks, I've seen plenty of impromptu reflections and memories from people in the San Francisco "gay community" who knew and cared about Mark. People who knew him from gay bars, not to mention the gay rugby league. I don't think he was hiding anything.

I'm not trying to make Mark Bingham into some gay martyr. I just think his sexuality seems to have been an important part of how he lived his life, and it seems dishonest to me to remove it from discussions of his death.

As to the eulogy, I think 'travesty' may be too strong a word as well. Still, I seriously doubt that the family had prior approval of what Senator McCain said. And, as the SF Chronicle story that I linked to makes clear, the memorial service itself included Bingham's former partner in addition to other friends. They weren't trying to silence anyone. If there's fault to be found in McCain's speech, it rests with him.
posted by bjennings at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2001

bjennings: If everyone at the memorial service knew about Bingham's homosexuality, and talked about it, and it was known to reporters there - as it almost certainly, 99.975% certainly, was - then what's the big freakin' deal?
posted by raysmj at 6:44 PM on September 27, 2001

Raysmj: I think the context of everyone there knowing Bingham was gay makes McCain's presence a good thing. I doubt that someone like Falwell (to pick an obvious example) would have gone to a similar function.

What bugs me is that there is a general (not universal) blackout about Bingham's sexuality. Part of the problem is that McCain didn't address it in his eulogy. Part of the problem is programs like Dateline doing stories on flight 93 and omitting discussion of Bingham.

You say it's not a big freakin' deal. As a gay man, I say it's a big deal. I'd hate for media coverage of my life (god forbid) to somehow omit one big part of who I am. I'll say it again: Mark Bingham seems to have been out and proud in his life, and it's a shame to see that swept under the rug during discussions of his death.
posted by bjennings at 11:19 PM on September 27, 2001

bjennings, I'm with you here. I saw Dateline a few days ago where there was a whole feature about one of the guys on flight 93 and the phone calls he'd made, but no mention of Bingham. It seems like shows like that only want to bring up homosexuality when that itself is the issue ("should gays be parents" and all that). They can't bring themselves to simply mention someone's gay partner in the very same way that they'd mention a wife or husband. There isn't a compete blackout on Bingham's sexuality going on - it's certainly out there on the 'net and in newspapers at least. But I've never seen it mentioned on "mainstream" TV.
posted by dnash at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2001

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