One of the mainstays of the liberal philosophy is the concept of equality for all humans from all walks of life.
That is a starting point that most of us can agree upon, as long as you further define it as meaning equality "under the law," rather than an assumption that all humans really are equal in intelligence, abilities and energy.
So far that makes me a liberal.
The concept further dictates that we should all have equal opportunities to aspire to whatever segment of the American dream most appeals to us, and that people shouldn't be denied employment, promotion, wages, raises and other benefits based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity and myriad other defining factors.
Still with you on that one.
But then we have to put these concepts into practice. Here is where it all comes unravelled and the practice of the liberal philosophy goes off on a tangent. The concept in practice dictates that it isn't enough to merely legislate that everyone should have equal opportunities under the law to succeed or fail, or muddle along at the pace their own abilities dictate.
In the liberal mindset all kinds of special requirements have to be included in the law to restrain some segments of society while others are given special treatment. This is called 'leveling the playing field' when in reality it amounts to hobbling the majority so others can 'catch up.'
This in practice assumes that anyone who by gender, religion, race or other defining factor can be considered a minority is simultaneously less able than the 'majority,' and thus not only deserving of special incentives but in fact requiring special incentives to give them true "equality." I see this as subliminal elitism and racism rather than inclusive.
The feminism movement, which enjoyed a renewed popularity in liberal circles during the 60s, was supposed to be one of the support pillars of this mindset. There is no question that women have historically been relegated to second-class citizenry or less, and there is no question that there still is a long way for females of all races and ethnic backgrounds to go to achieve true equality.
Unfortunately, in the 60s this often was defined as sexual rather than economic equality, and burning bras took on more significance than promotion to CEO. Nonetheless, many women worked to improve their lot in life, their choices, and the laws preventing discrimination based on gender.
But even though many women did work for true equality, the most visible spokeswomen for feminism had a limited definition of what it meant to support 'their' movement. Only some women were deemed to be suitable for support by the feminist community, primarily those who espoused a far left socialist mindset, if not outright communism.
Women who chose to follow more traditional wife and mother roles were not included in the new sororities, and were looked down upon as lacking intelligence and backbone. If they enjoyed being a mother, they were something less than desirable. If they enjoyed being married they similarly were ostracized.
Having children wasn't totally cast aside as a tenet of femininity, so long as career came before marriage and motherhood, and the children were raised by state-sponsored day care and public schools.
Only those who totally cast aside the old in favor of the new were allowed admittance. All others were relegated, in the eyes of the new feminist sororities, to a status far less than the second-class citizens they had been originally.
We saw examples of this attitude during the Clinton administration when numerous women who made claims of abuse against the former president received virtually no support from their 'sisters,' and in many cases were disparaged by the very segment of the community that should have been supportive. They weren't the 'right' kind of women, and they didn't even wear approved hairdos.
Evidence surfaced this week that not much has changed in liberal land since the last days of the Clinton administration.
A glaring and truly unfortunate example reared its ugly head this past Sunday when National Public Radio and Fox News commentator Juan Williams made a demeaning, disparaging comment about Jeri Thompson, wife of former senator, actor and assumed presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
Williams is a regular panelist on FNS and during in an up-to-that-point tongue-in-cheek discussion on the viability of having a debate between the spouses of presidential candidates, particularly Democrats Elizabeth Edwards and Bill Clinton, Williams opined that such a debate should include Ms. Thompson whom he then labelled as "the trophy wife."
For the record, Ms. Thompson is an attractive woman, who at 40 is 24 years younger than her husband. By all accounts, she also is a highly effective political strategist with a grasp of communications methodology that has been described as brilliant. This was showcased recently when she arranged an immensely popular Internet video appearance by her husband to rebut the latest lunacy from left-wing nut case Michael Moore.
But based on comments by Williams and far too many others on the liberal left, you would think that Mrs. Thompson is little more than eye candy, rather than a valuable and respected member of his campaign team. God forbid the woman should become the First Lady and have good looks in addition to a keen intellect.
I have been watching the Thompson non-candidacy closely for some months now and what I have seen is an uncanny knack for garnering publicity, and thus support, while many of the declared candidates are beating themselves right out of the running. People close to the non-campaign say that Mrs. Thompson is deeply involved in setting its direction and priorities.
In the last several weeks there have been a number of hits on Thompson, questioning his strength of character, his leadership skills, his intelligence, and the viability of his campaign. All this tells me that both the extreme left and the extreme right fear his candidacy, and that just makes me want to know more about him.
I am fed up with extremist commentators telling me who I should be voting for and who I should be rejecting. The sudden attacks on Thompson from the ultra-conservative right, with a simultaneous attack on his wife from the ultra-left's Juan Williams just shows that he has more to offer than extremists from either side.
So far the attacks on Thompson have been of the ho-hum variety. He was too involved against Nixon in the Watergate scandal, he wasn't involved enough, he got a job for his son, he fired a campaign staffer who clashed with his wife, who also happens to be too pretty! I have no idea how he will survive these attacks on his integrity!
I don't often agree with Juan Williams' point of view, although I do have a healthy respect for his efforts to boost America's black middle class through personal initiative rather than welfare handouts. But his remark on Sunday is demeaning to all women, including his wife and daughter, not just Jeri Thompson.
National Public Radio is represented by two of the four panelists on Fox News Sunday each week, the other being Mara Liasson, so the left side of the aisle gets more than its fair share of the input. But this is the second time in recent weeks that disparaging comments have come from that duo in the form of incisive opinion.
Just after the ill-fated immigration bill went down in flames, Liasson opined on FNS that it was a result of anti-Mexican racism. Although she was sternly countered by Brit Hume who noted that he had heard the word illegal many times, but not racist commentary, the damage was done. Her biased point of view toward those of us who are not racist and yet have strong reservations about the contents of that bill resounded loud and clear.
I realize that NPR is only partially funded by the taxpayers, but even so, I expect some semblance of balance from its commentators. Liasson's 'racist' remark smacks of the 'your momma' comeback that we used in school when someone insulted us and we were struggling for a response. Apparently Liasson has nothing left with which to debate the immigration issue other than labelling those who disagree with her as racists.
Meanwhile, Williams fears a Fred Thompson candidacy so he resorts to the basest and most demeaning commentary he can find about the man's wife, that she is an object, a dalliance, a mere 'trophy.'
I don't for a minute believe that our political process is suddenly going to become mannerly and based on respectful disagreements about the best way to reach the same objective. Our country didn't start out that way, it hasn't been that way for more than 200 years and it isn't likely to go through a sudden transformation any time soon.
Nonetheless, Americans of all cultures and backgrounds have been working to eliminate racism and sexism and have been making great strides on many fronts. While it is obvious that there is much work to be done, NPR commentators are the last people who should be name calling and backbiting using race and gender as a springboard. For that matter, we shouldn't encounter those comments and tactics on Fox News Sunday either.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007