The Lion found a letter to the editor written by a fellow in Virginia who’s just wrong, a letter so wrong that it deserves the first ever Anti-Clawdie Award.
Our man starts off with mild praise for Senator Barack Obama’s recent speech encouraging fathers to get more involved with their children. “Heartening,” said Mr. Virginia.
But that’s not enough for him. He goes on to say:
While this secular progressive society romanticizes the notion of having children outside of marriage (especially in Gloucester), it is a choice that has devastating consequences for children. If Obama wants to earn the support of the mainstream of America, he should work to bring back the taboo that once made it rare for women to have children before getting married.
Hardly. Something like ninety percent of Americans hold spiritual beliefs in one religion or another. Perhaps Mr. Virginia had in mind installing a theocratic government? Perhaps teaching creationist fantasies in the public schools? Perhaps teaching that women are lesser creatures than men and have to walk three steps behind men at all times? Sound about right, Mr. Virginia?
Have you looked at the White House lately, Mr. Virginia? Or the Congress? Republicans who want to drag us back into the Nineteenth Century are calling the shots. Civil liberties, a hallmark of progressivism and the Constitution, are shredded daily by that crowd. Immigration agents of the fascistic Department of Homeland Security routinely arrest and deport American citizens and lie to Congress about it (The Nation, June 23, 2008). Rich people get huge tax breaks, effectively giving them a free ride on the backs of the working class. Republicans in the White House routinely hand over the reins of government agencies to unqualified political hacks, and then proclaim government doesn’t work. Perhaps you remember Katrina and Rita? When the next major hurricane crashes into Virginia, do you want Republican hacks bumbling to your aid, or do you want qualified professionals running the agencies whose job it is to rescue, support, and rebuild your families and communities?
The snide slash at Gloucester teens was uncalled for. It was rude. It was thoughtless. It was ignorant.
And how about those devastating consequences, Mr. Virginia? Exactly what did you have in mind? Naturally we’ll never know, but we can guess that you’re thinking joblessness, homelessness, crime, drugs, prison, yada yada yada, all the cliches that people who make your argument always manage to mention.
Those arguments presume that the unmarried mothers must be social deviants, must be drug addicts, must be ignorant and incompetent, must be lazy, and whatever other myths the wingnuts on the right can think up.
But never, not once, do the wingnuts propose a humane society, one that provides daycare so that mothers can work, that provides healthcare so the children won’t suffer third-world diseases in the midst of America, that provides training and schooling so that disadvantaged mothers can better themselves and make a better life for the children for whom Mr. Virginia has prescribed ‘devastating consequences’. The Lion can feel pretty certain that not one red cent of Mr. Virginia’s tax money would be allowed to support progressive social programs, no sir, not from him, not one red cent, by golly.
He’d rather see children undergo ‘devastating consequences’.
His answer to his problem with perception? A father in every home:
The answer is not government. It is personal responsibility, and a return to the basic understanding that children need a married mother and father in the home to be raised as productive members of society.
Yup. Good old dad. Apparently Mr. Virginia isn’t going to distinguish drunken wife-beating child abusers from decent men struggling to make a living in a failing Republican economy. Or ignorant religious fanatics who rule their families with the iron hand of stupidity, bigotry, intolerance, and hatred. Just as long as there’s a man in the house, married to the woman in the house. Any man’s better than no man, right, Mr. V?
As for the ‘basic understanding’, well, no. There’s the basic mythology of Father Knows Best. Is that where Mr. Virginia gets his understanding of family sociology from? Good luck with that.
The Lion would also note that Mr. Virginia has, with his final ringing phrase about ‘productive members of society’, insulted millions of mothers and children. Mothers who struggled to do the best they could for their kids, despite the heavy odds imposed against them by an atavistic American society and atavists like Mr. Virginia. Children who grew to a crime-free and drug-free adulthood, who got a decent education, who hold jobs and pay their bills and are good, decent men and women.
Yes, Virginia, you just trashed all those people.
And of course you don’t define a couple of things in your statement. ‘Personal responsibility’ for one. But The Lion knows that’s just Republican Conservative code for ‘Screw you, I got mine and I don’t care what your problems are, you’re on your own, dumbass.’ That’s the modern religious Republican take on ‘Love one another’ and ‘Do unto others…’
And then there’s the matter of defining ‘productive members of society’. The Lion is not sure he wants to know what that means to Mr. Virginia, but it does bring to mind mindless drones pushing paper from one cubicle to another, or factory drones taught never to question, never to ask, never to think, but just to do what their Republican factory owners tell them to do. The Lion suspects that Mr. Virginia may well regard hedge fund managers who make hundreds of millions of dollars a year screwing around with other people’s money as the most productive members of society, despite the fact that they don’t create anything useful and contribute pretty much nothing to s0ciety. And of course the ten-dollar-an-hour security guard that ‘protects’ the steel and glass towers these parasites play in isn’t anywhere near as productive, is he?
Be that as it may…
Mr. Virginia might want to review a report from the CDC on birth statistics. One bit of it states:
A key change in marital status patterns has been the large increase in cohabitation among unmarried couples. In 1980-84, 29 percent of out-of-wedlock births were to cohabiting couples; 10 years later this proportion increased to 39 percent. This group accounts for most of the increase in births to unmarried women since the early 1980’s.
Oh, look, Mr. Virginia, there’s daddies in those evil, unmarried homes.
Fewer than 3 in 10 nonmarital births are to teenagers, but the majority of teen births are out-of-wedlock. Ages 20-29 are the peak childbearing years, and women in their twenties account for over half of all nonmarital births. The number of births to unmarried teens was 2 percent lower in 1999 than in 1998.
Wow! How about that? Adults having children. The Lion suspects that Mr. Virginia would condemn with the same vigor a professional woman who can actually afford daycare and health care and other necessities as he does the teens of Gloucester who apparently got bad advice from their sex ed classes. He would have to slam those hard-working professional women, who choose not to have man messing with their lives, in order to be consistent. Can’t be giving women credit, now can we, Mr. Virginia?
So, to Mr. Virginia, a nameless fellow from Virginia, today’s first ever Anti-Clawdie Award. Congratulations, Mr. V, don’t spend it all in one place. Like, fer instance, a homeless shelter, or a community daycare center, or a drug rehab center, or anything like that. No, no, no. That might be taking personal responsibility, real responsibility, for your fellow humans instead of the cheap cop-out kind touted by the Republicans and the Conservatives.
Good luck with all that, Mr. Virginia.
P.S. The Lion lied. There’s no money with the award. There’s not even a plaque with fancy script on it. There’s just this impolite post on the Grumpy Lion blog. That and two bucks will get you a cup of coffee, but not a latte or anything like that.