First off, I commend the NYT writers for writing a story about the brave, dedicated men who cremated Liberia’s Ebola corpses, and how they are unjustly treated as a sort of “untouchable” outcast group.
But they include one very stupid paragraph.
Instead of reminding people of the many churches and religions around the world which forbid cremation (except sometimes in emergencies), and the stigma which cremation still holds in the US when not done for the right reasons, they come up with this:
To understand how cremation is viewed by Liberians, one must first consider that this is a country with a national holiday — Decoration Day — meant solely for people to go and clean the graves of their loved ones. Every year on Decoration Day, Liberians troop to cemeteries and burial plots across the country with brooms, bleach, soap and water.
Yeah, just like that national holiday Americans have, where we also go to visit, decorate, and clean the graves of our loved ones. You know, Memorial Day. The one that used to be called Decoration Day. The one that Liberians got from black American immigrants who moved there.
Wakes can go on for days. People with little or no money to spare will beg and borrow to lay their dead in coffins made of black mahogany wood. They will build marble tombstones, and buy entire plots of land just to bury those they love. Many Liberians believe that if the dead are not properly buried, they will come back to haunt the living.
And all this is different from US funerary customs? How? Okay, we can’t usually get mahogany, but it sure used to be popular for funerals here; and we have marble tombstones and funeral plots, and plenty of us hold wakes that don’t last just one day. Also, many Americans believe in ghosts.
So… seriously, NY Times editors? What the heck were you thinking?