by Jon Winsor
Earlier we wrote about Sarah Palin’s populist revision of Paul Revere’s ride, and about historians who were troubled by the tea party’s creative history writing. Here’s another one: Michelle Bachmann claims that “the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery.” How could this be when four of the first five presidents owned slaves?
John Quincy Adams is not too credible a founding father, considering he was only eight years old in 1776. But that didn’t stop a Bachmann supporter from backdating J. Q. Adams’ credentials as a founder on Wikipedia, or radio host Mark Levin from taking up her cause. (Somehow, for Levin, while Washington owned over 200 slaves, he “worked tirelessly to end slavery?”)
By Jon Winsor
I’m a bit late on this, but honestly, when I wrote this post I hadn’t heard about Sarah Palin’s US history gaffe last Friday:
Later, apparently, Palin’s supporters took to Wikipedia and Conservapedia, where I understand Paul Revere is getting a makeover.
If you haven’t already heard, Sarah Palin is the current cover girl of Newsweek. Fair enough–she has a new book out. But the magazine chose to use a photo originally taken for an August 2009 article in Runners World about health and fitness. Runner’s World claims the picture was provided to Newsweek without Runners World’s “knowledge or permission” by the photographer’s stock agency. There has already been a good deal of commentary, some glee, and even speculation it was intended to rally conservative support for 2012. But for once, I agree with the former governor. Her statement on mirrors my reaction:
The choice of photo for the cover of this week’s Newsweek is unfortunate. When it comes to Sarah Palin, this “news” magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant. The Runner’s World magazine one-page profile for which this photo was taken was all about health and fitness — a subject to which I am devoted and which is critically important to this nation. The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention — even if out of context.
I am extremely disappointed in Newsweek for pulling a fraternity-prank-like stunt. Yes, I strongly disagree with Palin’s political views about almost everything, but that does not make their decision acceptable. Choosing an out-of-context image is not only dubious, but a manipulative move, unworthy of the magazine. Misrepresentation may indeed sell well, but it comes at the cost of integrity.
In the broader context, I am sick of this sexist nonsense. How are we to encourage more women to consider a career in politics when the media casts every female as a ‘pin-up’ or ‘bitch’ with no middle ground? As I’ve written in the past, while candidates should never be chosen based on a number of X chromosomes, it would benefit everyone if women became more involved in the decision-making process given we represent about 50% of the population. The way Clinton and Palin were treated in 2008 made Washington seem like a boys club. I often wondered how many girls might be completely turned off to politics by watching the unrelenting onslaught of ogling, sexy photo-shopping, and worse that ensued from across the aisle. And so, with many miles to go toward achieving an equal voice in America and around the world, Newsweek’s latest faux pas sets us back.
CNN asks ‘Is Feminism Obselete?‘ and Mary Matalin goes so far to suggest:
‘No conservative woman would choose to call herself a feminist as it’s described by liberals today.’
The story begins with David Letterman’s apology to Sarah Palin after a tasteless joke at her daughter’s expense. She accepted, but some conservatives took notice that many ‘feminists‘ didn’t stand beside her in the scuffle. In terms of Palin, I’ve said this before:
[Her] politics are not ‘pro-woman’ simply because she is female..a candidate’s gender should bear no role in his or her ability to take on the responsibilities of president. But our VP-in-waiting must be prepared on day one. In global decision-making, we don’t get a do-over. Sarah Palin’s positions on critical policies seem based on values that many throughout this diverse country do not share and she lacks the experience–especially in foreign relations–to lead…The message I advocate at The Intersection and elsewhere is that men and women should be considered equally for many roles, never that anyone should be afforded preference based on number of X chromosomes. Let our leaders be chosen, not by the composite of their gender, but by their readiness to preside over our great nation.
The CNN piece goes on to explore what feminism means and how it has changed since the movement began. Carol Costello asks who embodies feminism today and considers how ideals have changed. But must modern feminism be dictated by political ideology?
It’s complicated. On the surface, Merrium-Webster defines ‘feminism‘ as:
1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
Quite obviously, women polarized at liberal and conservative extremes do unquestionably hold very different interpretations of women’s rights. However, I sincerely hope that feminism does not become indistinguishable from the left because I fear it would be cast off as radicalism which would undermine the movement. We have so many miles to go toward achieving an equal voice in America and around the world. I may not agree with Ann Coulter or Laura Ingraham, but there are women across the aisle doing tremendously positive work that every ‘real‘ feminist ought to celebrate regardless of affiliation. We must rise above petty partisanship if we are to get anywhere.
No CNN, feminism is most definitely not obsolete.