Jobs vs. Shuttlesworth

One blogger wonders about our priorities in the wake of the death of a prominent figure:

Fred L. Shuttlesworth, a pioneer and central leader in the United States Civil-Rights Movement died at the age of 89.

His legacy, which included risking his life, being imprisoned, inspiring the work of others who received more credit — such as Martin Luther King, Jr., was remembered with nearly no fanfare, little Internet and media coverage, and only the most nominal of acknowledgements in the press. It was thanks to the reminder of Prof. Ed McCormack of the Washington Theological Union that the significance of Rev. Shuttlesworth’s death really struck a chord. Even I had been swept away with the hype of Jobs’s death — mostly becoming upset with the disturbingly disproportionate attention it received vis-á-vis other world issues — and, although I had been aware of Shuttlesworth’s death, had nearly as quickly forgotten about it as I had heard of it.

Instead of paying the appropriate respect that a man like Shuttlesworth deserves, we — as a society — chose to turn the death of a white male billionaire into a spectacle. I’m not entirely sure what the source of the catharsis is in the metonymic treatment of the Jobs’s death; for what does he represent? Does he represent the young men, the children, the middle-aged citizens of the world who struggle to stay alive this day because of cancer or other terminal illnesses? Does he represent the justice and courage that Rev. Shuttlesworth’s legacy presents to a generation that ignores his passing from this life to the next?  I don’t think so. If it were the case, I think I might feel differently about the bizarre behavior that has been exhibited today in what I can only describe as idolatry-turned-normative: the flowers and candles at Apple stores, the reverenced cadence of a Jobs invocation, the treatment of Apple products as second-class relics of a saint who bestowed his blessings on the life of the consumer.

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