Return of the revenge of the daughter of the Welfare Queen

I’ve been following this whole octuplet controversy with mixed feelings. A part of me very much groks the anger being directed at Nadya Suleman. No single person can give 14 children the care and attention they all need; hell, I’m not sure a couple could manage it. If “it takes a village” to raise one child, this woman’s going to need five boroughs, and Yonkers too.

But that didn’t account for the vehemence I’ve been seeing in the media and elsewhere about Suleman. Sure, some of it is clearly rooted in the revelation that the state will be paying for these kids’ care, and the creepy possibility that she may have blown some of that state-provided money on plastic surgery to look like Angelina Jolie. But there’s far worse examples out there of unhealthily large families, narcissistic parents, and exploitation of public resources. Why’s this one got people so riled?

Then I read this analysis of the situation, which I think does a good job of explaining the outrage.

The great storm of public fury that has been kicked up by these octuplets is more than an annoyance at the water cooler. It is a vivid demonstration of the price that our country pays every day for the comforting moral clarity of the “right to life,” a fragile construct that has always been partly about not letting pregnant women “escape responsibility” for their actions. If a mother’s life goes to hell because she can’t afford to raise a child, well, she should have thought of that when she let herself get knocked up. The child becomes a sort of righteous punishment, not a person — and, in similar fashion, those “outraged” by Suleman’s story clearly hope that she (and, inevitably, her children) will have a rough time of it. It is the worship of motherhood, and the hatred of mothers.

This analysis feels intuitively on-track to me. But I think it’s missing two additional layers of meaning.

First, I think this is not just the worship of motherhood, but worship of ideal motherhood — ideal only if it’s within the strictures of traditional marriage and patriarchial religion, and therefore controlled one way or another by men. Uncontrolled (or female-controlled, which is the same thing in some of these people’s eyes) motherhood is never desirable. Most media outlets are reporting that the father of Suleman’s children has been caught by surprise by this, and is “a bit overwhelmed”. I think the anti-abortion movement will hold up Suleman not as a heroine, but as a cautionary tale: men, control your womenfolk, or they’ll have babies as they see fit, and see what happens then?

Second, it didn’t escape my notice, when I saw clips of her on TV, that Suleman is a bit on the brown side. And I could be wrong about this, but her name seems like a derivation of a common Arabic name, Suleiman — common enough that I, a garden-variety American with about as much knowledge of Arabic culture as I have of nuclear physics, recognized it as such. I could be totally spinning in the wind here; she might be Swedish for all I know. But I can’t help wondering how much of the rage I’m seeing — not merely outrage, but murderous incandescent fury — is because the Welfare Queen specter has been raised in Americans’ minds, perhaps conflated in some weird-ass way with The Arab Threat and maybe even The Brown Conspiracy To Outbreed White People? (Suleman’s fertility doctor appears to be Indian, see. We’re all in on it!)

You remember the Welfare Queen, don’t you? Ronald Reagan created her to get elected 20 years ago, as columnist Paul Krugman notes:

As Thomas and Mary Edsall put it in their classic 1991 book, “Chain Reaction: The impact of race, rights and taxes on American politics,” “Reagan paralleled Nixon’s success in constructing a politics and a strategy of governing that attacked policies targeted toward blacks and other minorities without reference to race — a conservative politics that had the effect of polarizing the electorate along racial lines.”

Thus, Reagan repeatedly told the bogus story of the Cadillac-driving welfare queen — a gross exaggeration of a minor case of welfare fraud. He never mentioned the woman’s race, but he didn’t have to.

So even though the vast majority of welfare recipients in the US are rural whites forced into poverty by the destruction of America’s industrial economy, the association of welfare with greedy, lazy, urban brown women has become indelible in the American subconscious. And even though the pendulum seems to have swung back since Reagan’s time, and we’re now in a vaguely liberal phase, my suspicion is that this linkage still exists, hair-triggered in our national zeitgeist, ready to fire at the first sign of dusky skin and fertile ovaries. That Suleman may be of Arab ethnicity — the zeitgeist’s latest boogeywoman — just compounds the issue. Now instead of black wombs destroying America for selfish gain, we’ve got Arab wombs destroying America in order to imitate and replace white women. It’s like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers without the giant beanpods.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Suleman’s case trotted out again in about 18 months, when the Republicans start campaigning for the midterm elections. After all, if Reagan’s Cadillac-driving mystery woman could be so effective, how much more effective the collagen-injecting octuplet mom, who at least has a name?

Tales From A Survivor

Chris Brown tried to choke Rihanna. That was while he was threatening to kill her. And the stans are out in force claiming that she deserved it/provoked him/he didn’t do it on purpose. I would say I don’t know WTF is wrong with people, but I see this shit a lot. From men who want to justify it and from women who think it could never happen to them. Here’s the thing, abusers never seem like they’re violent to people on the outside, and in the beginning of the relationship they are the *perfect* partner. I mean it, they are absolutely the best partner their victim has ever had. They have all the romantic touches down, they’re a great listener (the best you’ll ever meet), and before long they have insinuated themselves into every single aspect of their victim’s life. As soon as they can’t imagine life without this person, they’re in deep shit.

Why? That’s when the abuse starts. And it’s not overt or even necessarily something that anyone would recognize as problematic. Because it’s just words, little subtle digs at their self-image that come from this wonderful person who knows them so well and loves them so much. And so they listen, and they lose a little of themselves. It’s that slow chipping away that’s important. Because without it? The first blow will be the last one. And the abuser can’t have that, so they lay the groundwork. But sometimes that chipping away doesn’t work, or at least not fast enough for the abuser. Maybe they’ve been pushed too far too fast, maybe at their base they’re not broken enough, maybe they are just plain contrary, or maybe they get fed up early in the cycle. Who knows? But when things don’t go according to plan the abuser flips their shit. Annihilation time if they can manage it.

And the fucked up part? They’re not necessarily consciously aware of what they’re doing to the victim. So they can tell themselves that they’re not a bad person, and they’ve never been this way with anyone else, that it’ll never happen again and a half dozen other things that add up to not having to face the reality that they’re hurting someone very badly. Because in their own heads they love their victim. Even when they want to control them and crush them. They love them so much that they can’t let the relationship end, or risk their SO meeting someone else, or whatever else is the trigger of the moment. And people will swear that something big must have happened to provoke them, but the reality is that they’re a ticking time bomb. All day. Every day. Whether it is a burnt dinner, a tone of voice, or being successful, there is nothing the victims could have, should have, would have done to defuse that bomb.

And people will say “Why didn’t she just leave?” like that would fix something. Know when most victims die? When they try to get out. And the craziest part is that people will still swear they should have tried harder, left earlier, done something other than whatever they did. Because victim-blaming is the most comfortable emotional reaction for a lot of folks. Here’s the thing, for a whole host of reasons there’s no way to spot an abuser at a glance, and even if you do figure it out fairly early in the relationship, there’s no guarantee that the fuse on that bomb isn’t so short that you’re already in danger. Does that mean no one should date? No. But it does mean that people should stop blaming the victim and start blaming the abuser. Want to get them help? Great. But don’t serve it with a side of justification for the abuser’s actions, or disdain for the victim. Domestic violence crosses every line regardless of money, race, or religion and we need to start treating it like the sickness it is instead of hiding from it. Yes I got out of my marriage, but it was hard and required me to do some things that I’m not proud of even though they saved my life. Luckily I had friends that truly supported me, and now I hope Rihanna (and every other victim) has friends that will stand by them until they can call themselves a survivor and get on with life.

Ignorant Parents In Danger Of Raising Ignorant Children

So here’s the story as I understand it.  Every year at this elementary school they celebrate Thanksgiving by having the kids dress up as pilgrims and “indians”.  Parents, mainly those of Native descent, have begun to object to this for several reasons.  1. It’s a completely inaccurate portrayal of what went on when the pilgrims got here.  (I am also kind of sick of the way we lie to kids about history, only to have to reteach it later.  Columbus discovered America, anyone?  Lincoln fought the war to free the slaves?  But I digress.) 2. The “indian” outfits are stupid and based on racist stereotypes, anyway.  All they were asking is that they have the Thanksgiving stuff without the ignorant dress up time.  The school board agreed and said that the feast should happen without costumes.

And then.

Well, most of you who read this blog can guess what happened.

Condit Elementary School parent Michelle Raheja said she was not prepared for the backlash she got from helping to write an e-mail to a kindergarten teacher at the elementary school.

She and her daughter have been harassed as a result, she said Wednesday.

“It was a private message to one kindergarten teacher,” Raheja said. “She did not ask me if she could circulate it to others or circulate it to the principal. I don’t think she was ill-intentioned.”

On Tuesday, numerous parents and their children dressed in American Indian and Pilgrim costumes to protest a Claremont Unified School District decision to have a Thanksgiving feast without the costumes that have been traditional for decades.

Another group of protesters, many younger and of American Indian descent, carried signs that said “Racism,” “No Thanks No Giving,” “Respect” and “Don’t Celebrate Genocide.”

Raheja said she and about 15 to 20 parents in the school helped write the private e-mail message about their concerns with the dress in the Thanksgiving feast to a Condit elementary teacher. She said the e-mail was redistributed without her knowledge.

At the Tuesday feast, Raheja said her 5-year-old daughter was harassed. A parent dressed up as an American Indian, Raheja said, “did a war dance around my daughter.” The parent then told her daughter and others to “go to hell,” she said.

Let’s pause here a moment.  A war dance.  A WAR DANCE, PEOPLE.

What the fuck kind of ass do you have to be to tell a 5 year old to go to hell?  The same kind of ass who would do a “war dance” around one.

I don’t advocate violence, but if I had seen that, I would have just hauled off and hit that person.

Continuing…

On Wednesday, she said she had received more than 250 “hateful and intimidating” e-mails.

“They go from being anxious about political correctness to calling me (an epithet). They don’t know my daughter’s name, but they’ve said hateful and disgusting things about my daughter.” (Classy! –abw)

At Tuesday’s feast, Raheja said she was told “if I had any issue with the school, I need to leave the school, and my daughter would not be welcomed.”

Raheja said, “We love Condit. We love the staff. Overall, we’ve had a very good experience. But the anger and hatred has been unbearable.”

If you have an opinion on this matter, I suggest you express it to the Condit staff and administrators yourself.  Website is here, complete with contact information.  I personally think it’s a little messed up for them to have even allowed parents to act in despicable ways around kids at their school or to distribute that email in the first place.

Google News on the subject here.  Beware clueless people being quoted and yammering on about how horrible political correctness is because it keeps their children from parading around in “headdresses”.  Idiots.

Some Truths That Perhaps Have Not Sunk In Yet

Black people in California =/= All Black People

10% of population =/= 100% of the problem

~30% of Black Californians Who Voted NO on Prop 8 =/= People you can spit on, blame, rage at, and dismiss, then turn around and expect to support you. Not that they would support a ban on gay marriage and other gay rights issues (because, if you’ve forgotten, many of that 30% are LGBTQ), but I wouldn’t count on their money, or their time, or the effort it takes to knock on doors, talk to people, and other grassroots activism. No matter how much I believed in a cause, even if it affects me personally, I would have a hard time being active for a group that actively despises me, devalues me, and blames me for their own problems.

The Black Community =/= Monolithic Groupmind

Black People =/= The Reason Prop 8 Passed

Are we clear now?

(thanks to Jenn for the inspiration)

American Terrorists — Will They Be Sent to Guantanamo? Probably Not, If They’e White

September 15th was the 45 year anniversarry of the 16th Street Church Bombing.  Some background, for those who don’t know.  In 1963, a group of white men who were members of the KKK planted bombs in a black church on a Sunday morning.  When the bomb went off it destroyed a good portion of the church, blew out the windows of nearby buildings, and instantly killed four young girls.  I guess those uppity negros learned their lesson, right?

4 Girls Killed at 16th Street Baptist

4 Girls Killed at 16th Street Baptist

It took decades for all of the men involved in the bombing to be arrested, tried, and convicted.  Even though they bragged about it to friends and family.  Even though the FBI had evidence that they did it.  Why did it take so long?  Not just because it was the South in the 60s, which was bad enough, but because dear old J Edgar Hoover saw fit to withold that evidence from prosecutors.

Just so you understand what I’m saying: in 1963 officers of our government purposefully withheld evidence that these men were guilty of killing four young girls and injuring at least 22 others because the government officials in question were dirty, racist bastards.  It wasn’t until 1978 that the first of the murdering psychopaths was put in jail, and it wasn’t until 2002 when two others finally had their asses handed to them.  The forth one died before he could be convicted.

1978

2002

This is how long families had to wait for justice.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West — the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail — were distributed by mail in Ohio, a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers.

A Kos diarist posted about it, and the local Dayton media reported on it, but a cursory Google News search shows that hardly anyone is reporting on this.

Someone, or a group of someones, attacked children in a house of worship.  Could have, and probably intended to kill children and adults in a house of worship.

What the fuck is wrong with this goddamned country.

And no, I do not care if at some time or in some place a Muslim individual has also killed or harmed children or people in a house of worship.  That does not fucking excuse this behavior.  It is not ever, EVER okay to respond to ideological differences of opinion or faith by ATTEMPTING TO KILL PEOPLE.

Attacking children in a house of worship is on a short list of things that make you so worthless that shit starts to look like a good candidate for president.

And how many years do you think it will take for these families to see justice for this?  How many more years do we have of it being all right to attack Muslims or people we think might be Muslims the way it was completely okay to attack black people in 1963?  Which government officials will claim the glorious honor of being the ones to hush up evidence, or turn a blind eye, or just not give a shit hard enough in the victims’ general direction?

People who might be Muslim, or Arab, or look kinda Muslim or Arab or brown or strange have been sent to Guantanamo for being on the wrong side of the street on a Tuesday.  If we ever deign to catch these worthless bastards, will our government prosecute them as terorists?  Or will they decline to even label it a hate crime?

People (usually white people) often wonder why I’m not patriotic.  This. Is. Why.

16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing

16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing

Louisiana State Senator Worries That There Will Soon Be Too Many Black People, Film At 11

I don’t even know if I have the stomach to do full commentary on this shit.  So here are the highlights.

Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied.

“We’re on a train headed to the future and there’s a bridge out, ” LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. “And nobody wants to talk about it.”

LaBruzzo said he worries that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government. He said he is gathering statistics now.

Right.  He’s totally worried about there being enough tax dollars.  That’s all.  Really.

“What I’m really studying is any and all possibilities that we can reduce the number of people that are going from generational welfare to generational welfare, ” he said.

He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men.

Oh I am so glad that we’re being very feminist about this!

LaBruzzo described the tube-tying incentive as a brainstorming exercise that has yet to take form as a bill for the Legislature to consider. He said it already has drawn critics who argue the idea is racist, sexist, unethical and immoral. He said more white people are on welfare than black people, so his proposal is not targeting race.

And anti-racist!  He just hates poor people, that’s all.

LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty, such as education reforms and programs informing people about family planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem. He said he is simply looking for new ways to address it.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, he’s a racist, ‘ ” LaBruzzo said. “The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions.”

LaBruzzo said he opposes abortion and paying people to have abortions. He described a sterilization program as providing poor people with better opportunities to avoid welfare, because they would have fewer children to feed and clothe.

He acknowledged his idea might be a difficult sell politically.

NO SHIT.

Also: children are the cause of welfare, not poor economic situations, lack of opportunities, lack of funding for education (that never works, anyway!), or a culture that is constantly at war against those who don’t live like the assholes on Friends.  No, none of that is to blame!

Officers in Sean Bell shooting acquitted

I don’t want to detract from the Seal Press debate, but I guess we’ll just have lots of things to discuss this weekend. Just saw this: the officers who shot Sean Bell and his friends more than 50 times have been acquitted. Continue reading

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