Sunday, January 14, 2007

Take That!

My goodness, I had no idea that "childless" was such a perjorative term, did you? I always thought it was a simple descriptive adjective, neutral in its connotation, but evidently I'm behind the times. Senator Barbara Boxer, in a hearing featuring Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made the point, which I thought was pretty obvious, that neither of them were in danger of making any great sacrifice for the war in Iraq. Boxer said her own children were too old and her grandchild too young to to be affected and in the same way, Secretary Rice had no "immediate family" who might come to harm there. Her larger point was that elites, like herself and Rice, were divorced from this war in an emotional way. To them, it was a discussion of strategy; it was the families of the troops who really paid the price for the decisions made about Iraq.

Well, you'd have thought Boxer called Condi a slut or a whore or a bitch. Evidently, being labeled childless is now on par with those terms if not even worse. The conservatives came tearing out from behind their rhetorical bunkers to declare the Senator's behavior beyond the pale. They accused her of being "cruel and callous". They said her statement was "repugnant" and that Boxer was "scraping the bottom of the barrel". Huh?

All the usual suspects got into the game. The crocodile tears flowed down the faces of the right-wingers. Bill O'Reilly was outraged by Boxer's vicious attack on Condi's honor. Rush Limbaugh was incensed by Boxer's low blow, her disrespect for the Secretary of State. On the McLaughlin Group, Tony Blankley accused Boxer, not only of being sexist but of being racist because Rice is a "childless Black woman". What does being Black have to do with it? If "childless" is the new slur of the hour, is it self-evidently worse being a childless Black woman than a childless white woman?

Even the Democrats didn't cover themselves with glory. I heard several analysts on the television agreeing that yes, Barbara Boxer had been "insensitive" and should have chosen her remarks "more wisely".

What the hell? We are talking about sending 21,000 more of our troops into Iraq, possibly to die or face terrible physical wounds or, less visible but equally as limiting, mental scars. We are talking about discomfort and fear on the level most of us will never be able to relate to. We are talking about children without parents and parents without children and wives and husbands without spouses and what we are up in arms about is Barbara Boxer's supposed smackdown of Condoleezza Rice in calling her childless? This is what causes Rush and O'Reilly so much distress? Sometimes I think that a significant perecentage of this country has lost its collective mind.