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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2008

Thatcher at Hillsdale

ONE needn't be a conservative to admire the tenacity, fervor, and strength of character of Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. Virtually everyone would agree that she was a politician who - say what you will about her views - stood for something.

That's why we were taken somewhat aback that the new bronze statue of Mrs. Thatcher on the Hillsdale College campus portrays her sitting down.

No matter; it's a well-deserved honor, the third in a set of sculptures that make up the college's evolving Liberty Walk, which personifies Hillsdale's conservative values.

Great Britain's first female prime minister (1979-90) is in company with likenesses of George Washington and Sir Winston Churchill that already were in place. She's to be joined at some point by such stalwarts of freedom as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass.

Mrs. Thatcher, now 82 and enjoying a life peerage that entitles her to sit in Britain's House of Lords as Baroness Thatcher, actually spoke at least once at Hillsdale College, one of this nation's best-known bastions of conservative thinking.

Placement of the statue, dedicated during the college's recent spring commencement ceremonies, reminds us in this election year how Mrs. Thatcher's distinguished career stands in sharp contrast to the poll-driven, focus-group-tested "identity politics" being employed so intensely in our own presidential campaign.

Yes, Mrs. Thatcher was a woman who flourished in a global political arena traditionally dominated by men. But her gender was far less important to her success than her beliefs.

Compare that to the complaints often aired by supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who contend they deserve a chance to elect her president of the United States, not so much because of her views on various issues but simply because she would be the first woman to hold the office.

We don't believe it is sexist to expect a person aspiring to the nation's top public post to be judged on the content of her ideas rather than her gender. The statue will come later if, as in the case of Margaret Thatcher, one proves to be warranted.



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