Rush Limbaugh turned Sandra Fluke into fighter, a popular icon, and a champion of the women's movement.
That's the last thing in the world that he wanted to do.
Sandra Fluke's current celebrity status began when Republican legislators sought to silence her on capitol hill. Fluke believes it is "pretty amazing, frightening and dangerous that they were talking, not only about limiting access to contraception, but in criminalizing certain established medical procedures." Asked why she is demonized by conservatives, she at first deflected the question, saying "I guess that is a question for them... I really wonder how the sight of a young woman standing up and speaking out for health care could have been so threatening." She has since complaisantly accepted the role thrust upon her as an advocate "for women’s health care on things like contraception." Fluke is confident that activism by women and men opposed to attacks on women's privacy will help to "move us back from the precipice".
She is in demand like never before. She frequently addresses non-profit organizations, even when they have no funds to cover her expenses. She was invited to speak at the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals annual meeting in New Orleans on Saturday, September 22, and at Southern Methodist University (SMU) on Sept. 24.
Now, she's intent on retiring some of those elected officials who tried to silence her.
From SMU she's embarked upon the campaign trail, campaigning in Bellingham, Washington on Friday (September 28). Her target there was Snohomish County Councilman John Koster, a Republican known for his opposition to abortion, and for disparaging what he calls "some imaginary war on women." Fluke's next battleground is Florida.
Rush Limbaugh notoriously spent three days assailing Sandra in February/March. Pervasive follow-on attacks from Limbaugh's compatriots on the air and online have been crude, crass, craven. Misanthrope Ann Coulter's typically oafish tweet about the DNC generated a fair amount of notoriety:
Bill Clinton just impregnated Sandra Fluke backstage...— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 6, 2012
Veteran Republican strategist Roger Stone (whose Twitter info is: "Reaganite, Libertarian, Conservative,Political Consultant, man about town, dandy, political analyst. I know a trick or two.. Miami Beach, FL") had his own designs on Sandra:
I wish Ted Kennedy could have dated Sandra Fluke!”” or take her for a drive !— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) September 6, 2012
In the face of such bitter attacks, Fluke is poised, articulate, gracious. She has taken heart from the villification; she says the attacks show "the power that people can have." Sandra remains civil, even maintaining a sense of humor, in the face of many detractors who constantly attempt to torment her on Twitter:
Rather than dwelling on the negative, Sandra celebrates the positive, posting "inspirational messages from women and supportive men across the country" for her supporters.
Some have chronicled the veritable flood of abusive tweets aimed at Sandra Fluke over the past seven months, but that's not my purpose here. Nor will I link to any of the literally hundreds of disgusting photo-shopped Fluke images — the product of a veritable cottage industry of right wing hate — that are pervasive on the web. Sandra has done nothing whatsoever to deserve the continuing onslaught, other than refusing the "marry young and devote life to housekeeping" lifestyle which conservatives seem to demand of young white women.
I remark on these matters to emphasize that Sandra Fluke could use our support. Limbaugh not only set the tone last March, he has displayed a continuing obsession with her on more than two dozen occasions since. His unconscionable attacks spawned the onslaught of countless copycat offenses that continue to the present.
Many of us immediately recognized a challenge last March, and we've stepped up to the plate. None of us waited for Sandra to call for such activism; indeed, I don't know if she would approve. To all of us, ours is simply an appropriate, organic response to hate.
Since that first week of March, literally tens of thousands of us have flooded the many organizations, Facebook groups, and pages dedicated to holding Limbaugh accountable for his hate speech. We're having considerable success. I hope you'll step up to the plate, too — for Sandra, for decency, and for the rights of women everywhere.
You can follow Sandra Fluke on Twitter, here.
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