“Actress Heather Graham wants women to empower themselves by pole dancing.” I read these words in a filler article in the U-T last Saturday morning (5/31/09). Whatever life lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in irony. Consider the past week’s news.
“LORD KNOWS WHAT WE WOULD GET THEN” The news has delivered up some fascinating responses to President Obama’s proposed appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The Three Little Repiglicans- Newt, Rush and G. Gordon Liddy- have injected a not unexpected but nevertheless noxious cloud of hydrogen sulfide gas into the air waves. By their accounts, amplified by those of the right wing base, Sotomayor is a terrifying prospect. Her racism is obvious. She is a member of La Raza, which we all know is the Latino version of the KKK. Her reverse racism intent is obvious in her much quoted statement, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
The quality ofwhich our president described as desirable in a candidate is of course liberal code for stacking the cards against Real Americans, i.e white people, by giving African Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans all the judicial breaks. On top of all that, she’s mediocre. Do you really think she could have gotten into Princeton graduating summa cum laude and then Yale Law School without Affirmative Action raising her above those hard working white male students?
Racism. Mediocrity. These pale when you consider the fact that this Hispanic chick lady menstruates! G. Gordon Liddy provides us with insight into “The Curse.” “Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.”
Racism. Mediocrity. Menstruation. White men- you don’t stand a chance. Grab your cojones, as they say in illegal alien, and head for the hills. It’s all over because- Surprise!- bets are that the Republicans in Congress will go along with the appointment despite the threat of a filibuster. Gentlemen, you are about to be sold down the river by your own brethren. This shows yet again that the Republican Party is suffering from multiple personality disorder with the repiglicans rampant yet also a clear liability for the Republican members of Congress in the upcoming mid-term elections.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE DOMESTIC TERRORISM? The irony regarding a woman’s path to empowerment did not stop with Sonia Sotomayor. Last Sunday it took a decidedly dark turn when Dr. George Tiller was murdered while he was in his church. Dr. Tiller provided abortions, including late term abortions, as well as other women’s reproductive health services in clinics in Wichita, Kansas. Scott Roeder, with multiple links to vandalism to the clinics, is the alleged murder. There is evidence that he did not act alone- the name and phone number of an Operation Rescue member was found in his car.
Although the most extreme anti-choice groups have opposed virtually every aspect of women’s reproductive choices including contraception, it has been late abortions which have received the most attention from these groups. The public discourse on this topic which they have largely shaped belies the complex and underlying realities about this legally protected procedure.
“Late abortion is not a failure of contraception. It’s for medical reasons,” Eleanor Smeal, the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, who has worked to defend abortion providers like Tiller against harassment and violence since the mid-1980s, told me this week. “We’ve made pregnancy a fairy tale where there are no fetal complications, there’s no cancer, no terrible abuse of girls, no cases where to make a girl go all the way through a pregnancy is to destroy her. These are the realities of the story. That’s what Dr. Tiller worked with — the realities.”
Dr. George Tiller, whose motto was “Trust women,” was buried on June 6. On Friday, the Justice Department announced it had opened an investigation to determine whether the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances act, known as FACE, was violated. FACE was passed in 1994 by then president Bill Clinton as a response to violence against abortion doctors and women’s clinics. The Bush administration did little by comparison to prosecute violators of the act.
Many of us feel that the violence and intimidation of some, but certainly not all, of these right wing groups meets the criteria as domestic terrorism. We are encouraged that President Obama has not only spoken out against the murder of Dr. Tiller, he is taking FACE seriously and has recently “convened a meeting of the National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers, an interagency law enforcement working group that includes attorneys from the Civil Rights Division and the Criminal Division, and law enforcement officials from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This task force was established more than a decade ago to commit resources to the reduction of threats and violence against health care providers on a national level.”
The tenor of the debate surrounding the appointment of a Latino woman to the Supreme Court, and the relentless threats against women’s reproductive freedom which culminated in last week’s murder of a doctor who performed abortions and provided women’s health services have made me re-read those lines in the U-T again—“Actress Heather Graham wants women to empower themselves by to learning to pole dance.” Ms. Graham continues with “As a woman, it’s inspiring because any woman can feel sexy and you’re cheering each other on…” Right.
This is dedicated to the OBrag’s own Patty Jones, who became a grandmother on June 6. Best wishes to three generations of women- Patty, Wendy and baby Madison.