Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Giving mothers a bad name

Oh dear, what a lot of mother talk at the Democratic National Convention! Only last month in the UK Andrea Leadsom was vilified for suggesting in an interview that being a mother gives a woman more of an interest in the future of a society. This was understood as a dig against her fellow contender (now Prime Minister) Theresa May, and widely condemned. Mrs May has no children because she and her husband couldn't have any so of course, in context, Leadsom's comment was tactless. But her point has validity. Just think of childless Angela Merkel who unilaterally decided to trash Europe by welcoming all comers from the rest of the world (citing 'Syrian refugees'), and was then called Mama Merkel by some of those who took uo her offer. Or think of the hideous speech by Stefanie von Berg (November 2015), where von Berg delights in predicting a German minority in German cities. And by the way, in the video clip of that speech, the three politicians looking on behind von Berg, with apparent approval, are also women.This is not to say they're all childless, I have no idea if they are. But if they do have children, how do they square nurturing the next generation with the gleeful destruction of their cultural and social inheritance? On the other hand, Leadsom's comment was inaccurate in so far as someone like Mrs Thatcher was concerned. Did Mrs Thatcher make any fuss about being a mother? I don't remember that she did, although that was a while ago and I wasn't living in the UK at the time. One could argue she made no fuss because she wasn't interested in being a mother, compared to being a career woman and politician. Or that as a career woman and politician, Mrs Thatcher had no business making a fuss about being a mother. Male politicians don't make a fuss about being fathers, and that's how it should be. They're meant to get on with the work at hand. But now, hey presto! It is perfectly ok, at least in America, to make no end of fuss about being a mother on the biggest political stage in a Presidential election cycle. Michelle Obama went on and on about being a mother during her DNC speech, to press and social media adulation. She was referring to her own role as a mother as well as to Hillary Clinton's, the person she was speaking for and endorsing. According to Mrs Obama, a key point that voters should consider is how Hillary 'raised' her daughter Chelsea 'to perfection', as if she'd been a prize heifer, or perhaps a sponge cake (except that we know Hillary DOES NOT BAKE, as she shared with the world in 1992: "I suppose could have stayed at home and baked cookies and had teas" - which is not at all an ignorant comment about 'stay at home' wives, and not sexist either). But really, Michelle? So Chelsea didn't also have an adoring father? She didn't have circumstances and advantanges that were uniquely privileged, just like the Obama girls have had? Mrs Obama also spoke about America being 'great' because her daughters could now look to a future where they too could become President one day, i.e. if people elect Hillary, a woman, now that her black (mixed race) husband, has also broken through to the highest office in the land. Well, I don't know. For some of us it's enough to want our children to grow up in a society that doesn't seek to invade their privacy and destroy their innocence at every turn, at ever younger ages, for example with state propaganda about fluidity of gender and anything-goes sexual practices. Or to hope that they won't be stabbed in their beds (Israel), or attacked with a machete (Germany), or chased down by a truck (France), or beheaded in the street (England), or targeted and killed for being gay, or a soldier, or a police officer (USA). At the DNC, Alicia Keys also garbled something about Hillary, motherhood, sacredness or some such, etc.etc. And then, of course, there was the group of women called the 'Mothers of the Movement'  - the 'movement' in question being Black Lives Matter, which at street level is basically a racist terrorist organisation, but never mind. These mothers were there to make the emotional point that death is very sad - sorry, that their apparently fatherless sons had died in confrontations with the police or, in the case of a daughter, by suicide while in police custody. The call of 'black lives matter' was chanted during their speeches and there was not a dry eye in the house, because these were mothers, sainted mothers all, of sainted children (who bore different surnames to them) and, most of all, they were black mothers. So adored were they for being mothers and black, that the audienced cheered every time they mentioned God and God's goodness. None of that jeering at God that had happened on the previous day. No, no. Black mamas are sacred, which is not at all race-biased, and they can be as religious as they want, not just in private but in the most public of spheres. Seriously, what would have been the reaction in the press and elsewhere if a group of fathers had been invited on stage at the Republican National Convention to show solidarity with and eulogise the police officers murdered because of Black Lives Matter agitation? And what if those fathers had made a point of praising God's goodness and calling out 'Hallelujah'? We know from the media treatment of Pat Smith, who accurately laid the blame for her son's Benghazi death at Hillary's (bedroom) door, that not all mothers are given a free pass. And that's fine, to the extent that mothers are not ipso facto saints. Mothers are people too, full of faults, doubts, failings, mistakes, not to mention, in some cases, stupidity, incoherence, incompetence or downright evil. What's not fine is to condemn some mothers for legitimately caring about their own children's fate or that of future generations in general, while sanctifying other mothers for no other reason than that they have children. It's even less fine to assume that being a mother makes Hillary Clinton potentially a better person and a better politician than anybody else. It's not Leadsom's mention of a mother's concerns that gives mothers a bad name, it's using the mere fact of motherhood as an unquestioned form of praise.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Brexit and "Hamilton"

"Hamilton" is the musical about the fight for American Independence. It swept the Tony awards and continues to pack in adoring audiences with no sign of letting up. It is loved for dramatising a country's fight against faceless rule from afar. It's about 'freedom', even though the fighters were mostly descendants of the original British settlers. The battle was fought and won by white men with guns but it's ok to worship this fight because the cast of the play is multi-racial and mixed gender, and the music and choreography are based on rap and street dance. So it's cool, and even more importantly, it makes audiences feel good about a reality which, transposed today, they would find unacceptably non-PC. Brexit is a fair, ballot-won, democratic vote by universal suffrage, to end faceless rule from afar - not that far geographically, but very far in terms of philosophy and cultural affinity. So, naturally, there are currently thousands of people marching in London and York to protest against this travesty, this farce of a referendum voted for by the great unwashed, the troglodytes of our times. What's the bet that most of the marchers would be, or are, avid fans of "Hamilton" or at least would heartily approve of it?