I was driving past the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles this morning, which remains closed due on orders of the local government. The New Beverly is a revival house, owned by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, and, with no movies on offer, its marquee now features a tribute to the recently deceased actor, Chadwick Boseman, who played, most famously, the Marvel comic book hero Black Panther, in the eponymous 2018 movie. The marquee reads “Rest in Power,” a trendy twist on the familiar Rest in Peace wish for the recently departed.
You see that phrase more and more among the trendiscencti: “Rest in Power.” The Paramount Network titled a series about Trayvon Martin, the black teenager killed by a security guard in 2012, “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story.” In July, the radical left-wing rag The Jacobin titled an essay about the recently deceased politician, “Rest in Power, John Lewis.” It says something, it seems to me, about the state of our culture.
“Rest in Peace” comes from the Latin “Requiescat in pace,” which has been found on Christian tombstones dating to the time of the Roman Empire. It reflects the hope that upon death, the Christian will find peace in the next life. It also reflects the Christian belief in life as toil and struggle, and that peace is best found in the afterlife.
“Rest in Power” twists this, wishing not for peace but for power. What a revealing twist this is, and reflects an adoration of power over peace. When the culture used to speak of power, it was often in reference to Lord Acton’s observation that “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Power was something to regard skeptically, and those with totalitarian power were abhorred.
But the Left – home of such totalitarians as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Castro – worships power above all else. And now that love of power is taking hold in the U.S.
It’s not clear to me how much power the atheistic Left thinks the dead can wield. Hopefully, their dead, like all the rest, have found peace, in which case, no power is needed.
And I’ll just add: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rest in peace, not power.