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The Wrong Way to Remember Michael Jackson

By Alexandra Petri

Has anyone actually read H.R. 600?

On its face, the resolution commemorating Michael Jackson that Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is attacking might not seem like such a bad idea -- a more permanent way than, say, a moment of silence, to recognize the King of Pop’s impact on our culture and national consciousness.

But H.R. 600 is not the way to do that. Its sponsor, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) completely misses the point of Jackson’s significance if she thinks that Congress should honor him as “a global humanitarian” before recognizing him as an entertainer. Yes, she calls him, “an accomplished contributor to the worlds of arts and entertainment,” and later lists off some of his hit songs. But she lumps that in with his work on “scientific advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and global food security.” I’m sure when most people remember Michael Jackson, they think of him as “that guy who contributed so much to global food security.”

This misplaced emphasis dominates the whole resolution. After a scant six entries describing his musical career -- “Whereas Michael Jackson was labeled `The King of Pop', Jackson's music is internationally recognized and critically acclaimed” -- the entire rest of the resolution is taken up with such significant milestones as:

Whereas, on April 9, 1984, David Smithee, a 14-year-old boy suffering from cystic fibroses, was invited to Michael's home, in response to a dying request to meet Michael. David passed away 7 weeks later...

Whereas, on July 25, 1992, at his concert in Dublin, Ireland, Michael announced that he will give 400,000 pounds of the tour earnings to various charities...

Whereas, on September 13, 1987, Michael supported a campaign against racism...

Whereas, on February 28, 1986, after having had a heart-transplant, 14-year-old Donna Ashlock from California received a call from Michael Jackson...

Whereas on April 1988, Michael Jackson ensured that free tickets to three concerts in Atlanta, Georgia, were specifically set aside for the Make a Wish Foundation...


And, most importantly: “Whereas in December 1991, Michael's office MJJ Productions donated more than 200 turkey dinners to needy families in Los Angeles.”

No one is denying Jackson’s substantial record of charity. He was in the Millennium Edition Guinness Book of World Records as, “the Pop Star who supports the most charity organizations.” (That’s a “Whereas” as well, in case you were worried they missed something.)

But the Michael Jackson who has brought millions together in mourning over the past week and a half was not the Michael Jackson who apparently airlifted 60,000 flu vaccines to Tblisi. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was right when she suggested that this measure might raise unpleasant questions, since it essentially amounts to a litany of times Michael touched the lives of children. That’s why H.R. 600, though clearly well-intentioned, is so wrong. If Congress recognizes Michael Jackson for anything, it should be for what really made him matter: his music.

By Alexandra Petri  | July 10, 2009; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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Comments

"since it essentially amounts to a litany of times Michael touched the lives of children."

Um....I think you meant the litany of times Michael touched children.

Can we stop honoring this pervert?

Posted by: redstripe11 | July 10, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"WRONG WAY TO TO REMEMBER MICHAEL JACKSON"

Has anyone actually read H.R 600?

Alexandra Petri, the question is: "HAVE YOU READ H.R. 600?"

The only "COMPETENT", you did was provide a link to H.R 600, which I took the liberty to print a copy to thoroughly read, not cherry pick like you did for this article.

Talk about "MISINFORMING" your readers, you shouldn't be allow to sign your "CHECK", much longer write a "NEWSPAPER COLUMN".

While you dropped a few items, you "NEGLECTED", to mention some very important "DEEDS", that the Late Micheal Jackson performed during his life. Such as:

April 14, 1984: Single handedly "EQUIPPING" a 19-Bed UNIT at "MOUNT SINAI NEW YORK MEDICAL CENTER". This center is now a critical part of the T.J.Martell Foundation for "LEUKEMIA AND CANCER RESEARCH".

December 13, 1984, donated 41.5 MILLION, TO Brotman Memorial Hospital, where he was treated after being burned during the Pepsi Commercial. The Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children.

Feb. 1, 1988: The proceeds for the song "Man in the Mirror" went directly and exclusively to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp for children who suffer from Cancer.

July 25,1992: Jackson donated "400,000 pounds" ($600,000 USD), to various charities in Dublin, Ireland, at his concert.

2004: The African Ambassador's Spouses Association honored him for his "WORLD WIDE HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS". his contributions of more than $50 million dollars to various charities, including many organizations that "FEED THE HUNGRY IN AFRICA".

This was but a few items you "INTENTIONALLY NEGLECTED MENTION".

At least the title of your "COLUMN" was right. "THE WRONG WAY TO REMEMBER MICHAEL JACKSON."



Posted by: austininc4 | July 10, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

hey austininc4,

you forgot, "1993, paid $20 million to boy he sexually molested multiple times" and "2005, pulled an OJ by beating the rap at trial (filled w/more bizzare behavior including showing up to court late, drugged and, oh yeah, in his pajamas) after molesting another boy"....oh yeah, and of course "led an unbelievably bizzare and weird life, much of it spent in a drug induced haze, highlighted by self mutilization thru numerous plastic surgeries and trying like hell not to look like an african american"....that this certified weirdo and pervert is admired by anyone is emblematic of the misplaced values so prevalent in this country!

Posted by: amsalty | July 11, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Hey Amsalty,


"BITE ME"......YOU MAGGOT

Posted by: austininc4 | July 11, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

It is bad enough that the news services have gone tabloid. We don't need tabloid legislation. Every one of the 4000 soldiers that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan sacrificed far more than Jackson.

News reports should have been a 60 second report and that would cover it.

The entertainment divisions, not news divisions, should have covered his memorial.

Posted by: timothy2me | July 11, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

As Reverend Al said, there was nothing strange about Michael Jackson. He was a normal as Howard Hughes.

Posted by: amazd | July 11, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The right way to remember him is as a terribly confused and conflicted person who could put on a good show.

Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa were great humanitarians.

Why? Because they devoted their adult lives and lived in squalor serving the poor and forgotten of the world.

Buying a few items to dole out or calling a heart patient doesn't even come close.

It can be said that Michael did what a lot of rich people do to assuage their feelings.

I saw the video of the police walk through of Neverland and Micheal died in a 100K a month condo. Those are not the habits of a great humanitarian.

Michael spent far more on himself and in the pursuit of his baser proclivities.

Great entertainer - sure. Sold more records than anyone else - you bet.

Great humanitarian - not a chance.

Barbara Lee, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Joe Jackson and all of the rest of the image spinners should just lay off.

But they won't because, just as in the case of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley, there is far more money to be made from a Dead Micheal than they could ever have reaped from a live one.

After all, he can't spend anymore money on kitschy crap for his house and he certainly can't touch anymore boys in that "special way".

Posted by: krankyman | July 11, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The way to remember him is to not do drugs; have a system of check and balances medically and not give his kids to anyone that is in it for the money like Joe Jackson and Mommy from hell who sold them in the first place. Let Janet and brothers care for them along with Grandma who is seeming sane.

Posted by: Scar1 | July 11, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Jackson's bill betrays either a bias against entertainers or a mistaken notion that Congress, being a public service body, can only honor public service. Ms. Petri's right: Michael was a peerless entertainer and that's how he deserves to be commemorated.

Posted by: jhbyer | July 11, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

[[And, most importantly: “Whereas in December 1991, Michael's office MJJ Productions donated more than 200 turkey dinners to needy families in Los Angeles.”]]
+++++++
I am not belittling any humanitarian contribution Michael Jackson had made during his lifetime, but the turkey dinner thing kinda galled me. There is a woman in my area (Reno, Nv and surrounding) named Evelyn Mount who, since 1978, has worked tirelessly to provided Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to the less fortunate. Good times or bad, she (in her eighties, now) is out there all year long getting ready for the holiday dinners. Many people are humanitarians that go unnoticed. Or if they are noticed, they don't get proclamations or resolutions n their name. With all due respect, Rep. Lee, it is too soon to push a gushing tribute through Congress.

Posted by: creatia52 | July 11, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Sheila Jackson-Lee's official web site makes no mention of House Resolution 600. That should tell you something!

Posted by: Frazil | July 11, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Jackson was an abused child who by most evidence either abused children or came so close to doing so that he had to pay out $25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the child's parents. President Obama noted this in his rather off-hand notice of Jackson's death by mentioning his troubled life.

Michael Jackson did indeed do a great deal of humanitarian work, and his music did indeed entertain millions, though artistically his performances and music nose-dived for me after "Off the Wall", the only good disco album ever created. "Thriller" was pointless if catchy, which was beneath someone of his talents - from then on, he was out of touch with reality both in the music and in life from all you could see and hear.

Should Congress salute the music and his philanthropy? Yes. The resolution is clumsy but most of them are.

Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin will be better remembered in time as artists, and Jackson was not the greatest entertainer of his time, he was a commercial phenomena. Like Elvis - yes Elvis - in time his superiors - in Elvis' case Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and the real creators of the blues - will outshine him. But I will give Jackson this - when he was ten, he was the greatest pop singer of any age working anywhere, and the greatest child star since Judy Garland. Had he stayed focused on feeling instead of image he wouldn't have sold as much, but he would have been a greater artist.

Posted by: jonthes | July 11, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Until we find peaceful solutions for our own country how do you expect to find them for another country. We need to resore our democracy at home and make it work here before we try to bring a democracy abroad. Michael Jackson touched so many lives home and abroad because he had a true spirit of love with no bounds and no strings attached to his agenda other than love and the entire world grasped it. You have to start with the man in the mirror to make a change, a positive change that will spill over into that which we wants to change for the best. Even President Obama have embraced a positive and loving change that has proven effective for all providing we grasp the reality of love on one accord to positively change our ways that we may be able to make manifest that which is good for all. We need to responsively adhere to standards to uplift our country in our efforts to help another. The United States of America would be a lot better off if we would move forward in all ways possible to demonstrate in our ability that we can be the better of that which we would want any other country to be. Then maybe the world at large will grasp that which we need grasp ourselves-the truth, love and peace.

Posted by: Nisey01 | July 12, 2009 4:01 AM | Report abuse

Someone have to introduce you to the medicine/drug, preferably a doctor in Michael’s case because he didn’t score these drugs off the streets. It goes to show you how low one will go for the love of money to not help but hurt someone for their own gain. Kind of controversial, the entire ordeal. God be with them all.

Farewell Michael Jackson
(Love You Into Eternity)

A spirit of love
Blessed from our Lord above
Embraced by strong arms
Michael endured it all
With the Lord at his side
Walking close as his guide

The world so evil ran its course
But Michael sang love with his voice
None other have I seen
None other will there ever be
A person of Michael status
For he was the first and last at it

As Michael take wings to fly up on high
To greet the Lord beyond that big sky
We earthlings will miss him so much
His love, his music and all he offered,
Including his ever gentle touch
Michael was truly a gift from the Most High
Whom was bless to us all for a little while

Memories are what we must now share
Michael?s fine and now he?s in the best care
Through all his ups and downs he may have faced
The Lord kept him to endure the race
Now his end his finally come
So will our end-in this race we must run.

C. Artis
Virginia

Posted by: Nisey01 | July 12, 2009 4:05 AM | Report abuse

Michael Jackson was better than any politician in his ability to unite millions worldwide with a common purpose in love and peace. His attributes to this world as a great humanitarian for all people bought myself and millions to realize that love conquers all and the truth shall set you free. Michael or no one will never get what he deserves in this world because this world is so full of hatred and man hate to see anyone as gifted and bless as Michael was because of their envy and demeaning attributes within them ownselves. I think Michael knew that, that's probably why his music displayed nothing but universal love for all because this sickened world in which we lives needs help and needs to turn from their evil ways that their land may be healed , I am speaking to myself also...for none are perfect...but Michael was the closest ever to perfection that a lot of us may witness in this lifetime. Why store our treasures here on earth, Michael did a well job and he left a grand gift for all to enjoy despite all the controversy, for man was and is beneath him for he is now above it all as have he always been.

Farewell Michael Jackson
(Love You Into Eternity)

A spirit of love
Blessed from our Lord above
Embraced by strong arms
Michael endured it all
With the Lord at his side
Walking close as his guide

The world so evil ran its course
But Michael sang love with his voice
None other have I seen
None other will there ever be
A person of Michael status
For he was the first and last at it

As Michael take wings to fly up on high
To greet the Lord beyond that big sky
We earthlings will miss him so much
His love, his music and all he offered,
Including his ever gentle touch
Michael was truly a gift from the Most High
Whom was bless to us all for a little while

Memories are what we must now share
Michael?s fine and now he?s in the best care
Through all his ups and downs he may have faced
The Lord kept him to endure the race
Now his end his finally come
So will our end-in this race we must run.

C. Artis
Virginia

Posted by: Nisey01 | July 12, 2009 4:37 AM | Report abuse

Please let M.J. rest in peace!! Fans all around the world including us love M.J..Only that fact alone proves we believe in him and from our heart he is always a great man...he is only "GUILTY OF LOVE"....The fact that he loves his children no matter if they were his biological or not,his mother and the charity donation for the children of the world through his will speaks up his personality.He deserves to be mourn the great way as great humanitarian feature.

Posted by: speech1 | July 12, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"Can we stop honoring this pervert?"

You should leave America since you don't believe in its justice system. You should also punch yourself in the face for being a useless fool.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | July 13, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

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