Commentary: It’s Time to Tell the Truth About Thatcher

People in the streets are keeping it real. 

Posted: 04/09/2013 11:17 AM EDT
Margaret Thatcher

If you want to know the truth about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy as Prime Minister of Britain, skip the long and glowing elegies being published and packaged by traditional media outlets and take a look in the streets.

British citizens have forced the world to get real about Margaret Thatcher in the midst of all of the “respectful” tributes about her contributions to the world and bringing a once marginalized conversation about certain communities’ “feelings” about Thatcher to the forefront of discussion — where it should have been in the first place.

Those “feelings” are where the real legacy lies. A leader’s human rights record should be at the forefront of all retrospectives — not pushed to a side conversation about how marginalized communities “felt” about the leader.

Unfortunately, Thatcher failed. Most notable in her infractions against Black folk were her support of South Africa’s racist apartheid regime, (she famously once called Nelson Mandela a “terrorist”) and her legacy among Black people in her native Britain was so negative, that her death inspired posters saying "Rejoice — Thatcher is dead,” and “good riddance.” Black British disdain of Thatcher stems from her immigration reforms that shut out migrants from Africa and the Caribbean and how she allowed London’s police to run rampant with racist reforms like stop and search and other tactics that victimized hoards of Black people.

But beyond Black and white, many Britons remember Thatcher as a cold-hearted leader that did nothing for the common man and left the country in ruin.

Former mayor of London Ken Livingston said, "The trouble is that almost everything that’s wrong with Britain today is her legacy … she created today’s housing crisis, she created the banking crisis, and she created the benefits crisis.”

And if that assessment isn’t enough to shake your belief in the hype surrounding Margaret Thatcher, perhaps this will:

In Brixton, atop the marquis at the Ritzy theater Monday, demonstrators climbed up and re-arranged the letters of the movie titles to read, "Margaret Thatchers dead LOL."

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(Photo: Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images)

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