And, once I learned that many of these pro-lifers engage in the deluded practice of throwing baby showers (yes, baby showers) for these misguided and unfortunate young women, I was convinced more than ever that pro-lifers are part of the problem, and their cause is not the place to look for solutions. Does it take much acumen to figure out that you get more of what you encourage and reward?
The views recently expressed by Wendell Jackson on his blog, Black Men for McCain, over the selection of Sarah Palin for Republican Vice President, reflect perfectly the consternation of so many parents who thought they could, at least, trust the political party, which for years set itself opposite the "permissive" Democrats to be sensible in its choice of its major candidates. Jackson writes, "This is a strange time to be a Republican. Is teen pregnancy now just a sign of An American Family? What the hell is going on here?"
Indeed, what is going on here? Black and Hispanic parents, raising children in the midst of social chaos, striving to inculcate values better than those of their hopelessly disordered neighborhoods, will now contend with yet one more notoriously public pregnant child celebrity. One more occasion to explain why their daughters should fight off the temptation to replicate yet another celebrity's imprudence.
Here are parents of every race, class and background valiantly trying to offset an intrusive media's corrosive impact in the lives of their children, as they cope with a public school system that reinforces the media's socially destructive messages. As though in partnership with these negative forces, along come the pro-lifers, who validate youthful sexually promiscuous behavior, by celebrating its inevitable outcome and consequences. They have not only helped to normalize illegitimate childbirth, but have raised it to the status of saintliness. Instead of a Scarlet Letter, Hester gets a heads up and encouragement to repeat her folly.
And now we're confronted with a major politician expressing no regrets for the mistake made by her underage daughter, but actually celebrating it as a "beautiful" event. Why should not Palin's two younger daughters crave the attention and spotlight now being lavished on the older one, and look forward to repeating her example – along with the many girls around the country who are awed by the spectacle of an unwed pregnant teenager being feted at a prominent political convention?
Jason Whitlock, the outspoken sports columnist, who ruffles many feathers with his critiques of aspects of black culture, tirelessly writes about the plague of illegitimacy and the glorification of men who abandon their children to the mercies of single mothers. Because of what have become ingrained cultural norms, Whitlock says that blacks "behave as if 'No' is not part of our vocabulary." Well, "No" gets even harder to articulate in a society where there are rewards to girls for saying "Yes," and still greater rewards if that "Yes" results in a baby.
Just as the prominence of Barack Obama is encouraging more and more media portrayals of interracial intimacy, the Palin phenomenon is sure to guarantee an ongoing proliferation of stories about happy, heroic unwed mothers. The multiplier effect will be running at high gear.
A hit with pro-lifers, the "Single Mom" is also the media's glorified heroine, and there are already countless depictions of her on television and in films. According to these stories, the single woman or teenage girl who winds up pregnant, no matter what her social straits, opts to give birth, and never considers availing herself of the alternative choice. After all, an abortion would end the story line, and lose the opportunity to hype the special wonders of single motherhood. These are the fantasies off which adolescents feed.
This fabricated Single Mom usually gets that great job, finds an affordable place to live, has enough money to pay for the keepers of her child, and even wins the attention of a handsome, responsible man. This wonderful guy, of course, considers it hunky-dory that she chose to create offspring from a previous liaison, an illicit one at that. These are among the pretty, sentimental stories and messages offered to young girls, like the real life high school girls in Denver, where that city's school system is struggling with demands for longer maternity leave and for more on-site child care centers.
According to the Denver Post, one of the districts already has a high school for pregnant teens and "new moms" with a maternity leave policy, so that girls can be allowed to "bond with their newborns," before returning to school. School administrators are trying to cope with the extended absences from course work, while insuring that these girls' education can continue. Some students are lobbying for longer maternity leave. The Post quotes a 5-month pregnant 18-year-old, "After you have the baby, your body needs time to heal." Does she know this from experience, because this is not her first illegitimate birth?
The Post reports that Denver has one of the highest teen-pregnancy rates in the state. Of every 1,000 girls age 15 to 17, about 54 of them are expected to become pregnant. There is a special high school for pregnant teenagers, and it has a waiting list.
If the Republicans had known about these conditions in the Denver public schools earlier, perhaps they are the ones who should have held their convention in that city, and the implacable pro-lifers among them could have enjoyed touring some of the day care facilities established for the children of children, while listening to the maudlin stories of these stoic, young Moms.
Here in New York City, in 2006, over 8,000 girls gave birth to illegitimate children. The figure is increasing among Hispanic girls, especially, as the birthrate grew to 59 per 1,000 girls. Among blacks, it is 40 per 1,000. These are stats only for public school students, not the population at large.
"Role models are very important," says radio guru Dr. Laura Schlessinger, referencing the public emergence of Sarah Palin. "Children and young adults look to those who are visible and successful as a road map of what is acceptable behavior and emulate those actions over the morals and values their parents and churches have taught and tried to reinforce." I had wondered how the pro-life Schlessinger, a stalwart champion of responsible parenting and a scold to those who would be enablers of illegitimacy, would come down on the Palin nomination. Would she engage in the current verbal contortions now in progress among so many of the formerly dedicated "family values" folk? Of course, by the time this is published, Schlessinger might well have joined her Republican comrades in the grand rationalizations that now fill the airwaves.
Phyllis Schlafly, the erstwhile, long-time teacher of family standards has just about deserted her former positions, and is now reciting some of the most insipid banalities, in order to justify her abandonment of principle. She has been quoted calling Palin a "breath of fresh air," and gushes over the fact that Palin "has revitalized the grass roots of the Republican party across the board." That, apparently, is what counts.
One of the best Internet discussions on the probable future impact on the conservative cause due to the selection of Sarah Palin was held at Lawrence Auster's View From the Right. I am not in agreement with Auster on foreign policy, especially as regards the Middle East. But what's there not to like about a man who stands foursquare for the preservation of what's left of Western culture? Where do you find a white man these days who professes the desire to see his own race prevail in their own lands, instead of taking delight as Western countries are overrun with immigrant invasions? On this subject, we're in agreement. And we're on the same page in regard to those who purposely, or inadvertently, promote or condone illegitimate pregnancy.
The pro-life Auster asks the question of the day: "Was it right to have this unmarried, pregnant 17-year-old girl at the Republican convention holding hands with her boyfriend on national and global television, thus normalizing an out-of-wedlock sexual relationship and pregnancy at the highest level of our national life?"
Republicans, says Auster, have put conservatives in a position where no negative judgment can be expressed about out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Not only have they done this, they offer up congratulations to the expectant Mom. "Since when," he asks, "is it good news that a 17-year-old high school student will be caring for her new born," while still in school?
And why are the circumstances presented to the public by Palin considered acceptable? Auster contends, "Because Bristol's baby is not being aborted. The non-abortion turns the unmarried pregnancy and the upcoming teen-age marriage into a blessed event! ... This is the way these Christian conservatives are responding – because of the moral reductionism that effectively eliminates all moral evils except for the evil of abortion. ... McCain has put the conservative base in a position where it has to bend itself out of shape to maintain its support for the Republican ticket."
Adela G. writes to Auster:
This woman, mother of an infant with special needs and an unwed pregnant teen, chose to step into the national spotlight. Surely in between all that huntin' and fishin' and givin' birth, she paused to reflect that the national attention focused on her family might result in criticism directed toward the choices she and they have made. Or maybe not. Maybe she thought being relentlessly perky would carry the day. She could be right. I wouldn't trust her judgment about anything else, though. And I certainly don't trust the judgment of any of her admirers.
Carol Iannone wrote:
Starting with the Giuliani candidacy, Republicans have made a spectacle of themselves defending one inappropriate thing after another, and it's really demoralizing. It makes it seem as if all they care about is naked power. Maybe they should just say that and stop disappointing people who were foolish enough to think they really stood for principles.
Well, some of us, long ago, ceased associating principle with the Republican party.
Iannone speculates further: "How would conservatives be talking if Palin were a Democrat? I don't believe they would
be winking away the teen pregnancy issue and even presenting it as a good. ... I don't think they would be defending her relatively slim record with bared teeth. I think they would be saying the opposite of all this. I believe they would be spinning as negatives what they are now calling positives."
You can be sure that's exactly what they would be doing.
Laura W. offers an amusing take on the presence of Levi Johnston, the teenage father-to-be, at the Republican convention: "Can you imagine what was going on in his mind last night? I can't read into the thoughts of an 18-year-old hockey player. But, let me try to guess, indulging if I may his special gift for words. Might he have been thinking this: 'Adults! They're such f-----g fools!'"
At one time, conservatives appeared to understand the basis for the escalation of social pathologies – from sex being hyped even to the youngest children, to open-ended welfare policies that increase payments to single women and girls who produce multiple illegitimate babies, to the eradication of important taboos that guarded against the proliferation of dysfunctional behavior. What were once aberrances have become norms, thanks primarily to social policies contrived by liberal ideologues.
And it is the poor who have been hit the hardest. Myron Magnet's brilliant book that describes the impact of the counterculture on the poor is still one of the best analyses of what happened to those who could ill afford to have society's old, bourgeois moral standards pulled out from under them. In The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass, he writes:
Poverty turned pathological because the new culture that the Haves invented – their remade system of beliefs, norms, and institutions – permitted, even celebrated, behavior that when poor people practice it, will imprison them inextricably in poverty. It's hard to persuade ghetto 15-year-olds not to get pregnant, for instance, when the entire culture, from rock music to upscale perfume commercials to highbrow books, is intoxicated with the joy of what before AIDS was called "recreational" sex.
And it will be harder to persuade those 15-year-olds not to get pregnant when they observe the celebratory treatment given to the wayward daughter of the holder of the second highest office in the land. Oh, wait. She would be considered "wayward," only if she made the choice to abort.
On his Fount of Truth website, Doug Newman speculates that if Bristol Palin were a black girl in the ghetto, "Republican media jabberers" would write her off, as they have countless times in the past, as "a product of 75 years of liberalism." In this case, however, we are commanded to "just sit down and shut up," and voice no queries about anyone's "personal life."
Another stunning feature of the Palin affair is the mounting evidence that so-called conservative women are nothing more than closet feminists – of the worst kind. Except for clinging to their tenacious "pro-life" advocacy, these women appear to have internalized the most leftwing feminist precepts that make their beliefs indistinguishable from those of the president of NOW or the editors of Ms. magazine. If there is any question that feminist dogma rules their constellation, consider these remarks from the mouths of the so-called defenders of the conservative way of life.
In the City Journal, Heather MacDonald describes how Republicans are now heavy into playing the identity-politics game. Of course, the game isn't really a new one for them, says MacDonald, "But now they've gone all the way and introduced irrelevant chromosome considerations into the presidential race." Gone forever is the right to criticize Democrats for playing the race and gender cards. MacDonald derides Sarah Palin's "hackneyed feminist bromides," such as her effusive praise of Hillary Clinton for leaving "18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America."
Since when do conservatives promote the idea that a mother of five children, three of them under 14, should concern herself with breaking ceilings? How can there be any analogy between Palin and Hillary, the mother of an adult child, with nothing but time on her hands? Hasn't the Religious Right always stressed the importance of full-time motherhood, especially for a woman in Palin's circumstances? It is clear, says MacDonald, that the "diversity epidemic" has spread in the Republican political machinery.
These Palin defenders are now invoking standards invented by the left, which true conservatives reject. By hurling the politically correct charge of "sexist" at opponents, they imply that they are in full agreement with the feminist notion of what Carol Iannone calls "the absolute sameness of the sexes." Is this a conservative concept? How could the word "sexist" be part of a conservative's vocabulary?
Without blinking, these transformed conservative, Oprah-fied women are vehemently protesting any questions raised about Palin's judgment – just like good feminists. "You wouldn't ask that question, if she were a man!" they shriek. Well, of course not. Real conservatives would have no such questions about Todd Palin accepting the VP nomination, because of their belief in the distinctive roles played by both sexes when children are involved, especially five of them. Remember? This belief held as recently as, oh, say, three weeks ago – until Sarah Palin came on the scene.
MacDonald writes, "There are, alas, many women who are pathetic enough to put gender above politics, for whom a candidate’s stand on substantive issues matters less than her reproductive plumbing. But just because such voters are out there doesn’t mean that the GOP can cater to them without permanently compromising its principles. ... It's a sad day when Republicans decide to match the Democratic predilection for chromosomal consciousness, since there will be no turning back."
The blogger at DC Hero believes that the leftwing women supporters of Hillary Clinton will come around to Palin. And here's why: "We’re talking about women here. Women are illogical and vindictive. They’re not going to look at her voting record, her NRA membership, or anything like that. Women will vote for her because she’s a woman and they’re mad at Barack for edging out a victory. End of story."
And here's another reason why large numbers of women, who once appeared to be wed to an alternative set of politics, will come around. When defending against the intimations of Palin's possibly irresponsible parenting in regard to her pregnant daughter, a woman delegate at the Republican convention explained that "life happens."
Think of all those single, as well as married mothers out there whose families have undergone a similar plight. Such women are pleased to see the adulation heaped upon this "imperfect mother," with whom they identify. They won't have her judged, as they don't wish to be judged, because, well, life happens. The Palin reality show offers a validation for their imperfect lives that a candidate like Mitt Romney could never deliver.
And don't underestimate the impact on these women of the sight of Palin's manly looking partner. How many of them dream of such a faithful, handsome, hands-on husband and father? Lucky Sarah has it all!
Super Republican Rush Limbaugh likes to claim that conservatism is based on rational thinking, it appeals to the logical mind, whereas liberalism is nothing but emotionalism, it's all about "feelings." How can anyone ever again make such a claim, after listening to the emotionally charged, and even hysterical defenses of Sarah Palin? This is emotionalism writ large.
Pro-lifers apparently use the "conservative" label only as a convenience, which also explains their affiliation with the Republican party. It's a marriage of convenience. Hardly any more conservative in their outlook on most issues than their liberal counterparts, pro-lifers have overtaken the party, in order to have a base from which they can effectively promulgate their intransigent stance against abortion. And this is the only item on their cultural agenda. In this symbiotic dance, the Republican party, in turn, goes along with the game, in the expectation that this vast bloc of voters will insure their continued hold on power.
See Red-State Feminism: Beware of underestimating Palinsanity, by Kay Hymowitz, also on the City-Journal site.
To read the views of two pro-life traditionalist ministers, see also - The Religious Right: "Heralds of truth" as political lackeys -- here
Related I&V Posts:
Palin fills in those cracks in the ceiling
Pro-lifers bring underclass mores into the mainstream
We didn't know this?