It's been nagging me for days: Charles Krauthammer, on Fox News, claims to be perplexed as to why feminists hate Sarah Palin, and offers his own explanation: "[It's] her decision at her age with four other children to have a down syndrome child," he declares. "They look at her as sort of a back room — a backwater hick, who, for religious reasons, went ahead and had a child that they would never have. . . . it’s a self-loathing on the part of these feminists, knowing that what she did is virtuous and a generous act that they would have never have undertaken. And her having undertaken it is an affront to them, a silent rebuke."
I understand his confusion. The conservative wing of the Republican Party has increasingly shown itself to be without principles, so how could anyone take a principled stand against anything, especially something so benign as this fine woman from Alaska?
But I submit there's a better, Occam's razor-like interpretation of feminists' rejection of Palin ("hatred," I believe, is too strong a word). And it has nothing to do with the children.
Here, then, is my feminist manifesto on the rejection of Sarah Palin as a symbol of women's progress. Please feel free to improve upon it.
As feminists, we reject Sarah Palin because we understand that feminism is not just about women, but about civil rights, equality and justice. About a humane, fair and generous view of the world; about tolerance for people of different faiths and different politics; about the plain recognition that skin color has for too long dictated wealth and well-being and respect in this country, and that the long chain of racism must stop with us.
We therefore do not seek to divide people along lines drawn by education or class, race or gender, geography or neighborhood.
We reject Sarah Palin because of her careless words on the campaign trail -- including, but not limited to accusing her opponent of "palling around with terrorists." These are words that, while doing nothing to improve her ticket’s chances, have stirred up a simmering rage that could dangerously explode in the way George Wallace’s hate-mongering did in this country 45 years ago. Her running mate may reject that characterization, as stated by Representative John Lewis of Georgia, but that does not make the characterization any less accurate.
We reject Sarah Palin because we work hard in the jobs that we have -- CEO or office manager, forewoman or shop steward or journalist or janitor -- and we do not take our duties lightly. We expect that a woman who accepts an opportunity to be elected to the high office of Vice President would at least read its job description, as inscribed in the constitution of her country.
We can recite many Supreme Court decisions we abhor, dating back to the ones that sanctioned slavery and segregation.
We believe a woman’s body is her private territory, over which she alone has jurisdiction.
We believe that the surest way to reduce the abortion rate is to foster a society in which single women and working-class families have the means to bring a child in the world, with the faith that their child will have access to excellent health care and a superior education. We understand that support for special needs children and their families involves more than emotional rhetoric. It might even entail some spreading of the wealth. This is true reproductive choice: The right not just to terminate an unexpected pregnancy but to continue with one in the face of financial difficulty and limited familial support.
We reject Sarah Palin because she has made a mockery of the office of the Vice President of the United States by claiming she has foreign policy experience when she does not. Statements such as "when Putin rears his head, where does he go?" are at least embarrassing, and at worst dangerous.
We believe that war is a horrifying last resort in international conflict, and would not taunt world leaders we might one day soon need as allies. We believe in diplomacy. We believe in fostering a broad understanding of foreign cultures, so that we might be better able to work with other countries toward peace.
We reject Sarah Palin because as feminists, we understand that we are guardians and stewards of our planet. It is beyond dispute that our over-reliance on fossil fuels to fuel our cars and light our homes has already begun to alter the delicate balance of our earth’s climate and chemistry. Chants of "drill, baby, drill," then are unconscionably irresponsible. Palin must know that U.S. Energy Information Administration analysis shows that offshore drilling for oil would make no dent in the gas prices before 2030, and yet she continues to arouse her crowds with promises of solving their problems with more oil.
We reject Sarah Palin because in a time when we desperately need truth, she lies; in a time when we desperately need compassion, she is cruel, in a time when we desperately need unity, she divides.
As feminists, we heartily support Sarah Palin's decision to be a mother at every turn. We admire her support for her teenage daughter as she works through the difficult emotions brought on by an unexpected pregnancy. We would do everything we could as a society to help her bring up her disabled child in a humane society that honors all difference.
But Sarah Palin does not have the wisdom or the experience for the job she seeks. For the sake of feminists the world over – for the sake of this nation and the international community so deeply affected by its decisions – Sarah Palin and John McCain must not be elected to lead this country.
Cross-posted at my blog, Little Green Animals.