Reason Why Republicans Just Don’t Get It #423
Republican presidential frontrunner Michelle Bachmann and fellow lagging candidate Rick Santorum both recently signed a highly controversial document in support of family values. The document – “The Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family” from Family Leader, a conservative group in Iowa, contained some pretty hot button topics; urging the candidates to reject same-sex marriage, pornography, and Sharia law. But the item generating the most controversy was a claim attempting to somehow link slavery to modern day family values. To wit, the document claimed that “…a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”
In their attempt the whitewash the damage already done, a spokesman from the group issued the following statement:
After careful deliberation and wise insight and input from valued colleagues we deeply respect, we agree that the statement referencing children born into slavery can be misconstrued, and such misconstruction can detract from the core message of the Marriage Vow: that ALL of us must work to strengthen and support families and marriages between one woman and one man. We sincerely apologize for any negative feelings this has caused, and have removed the language from the vow.
First, the comparisons between slavery and today are simply ludicrous with no real account of history. While it’s true that over the past few decades – especially since the Civil Rights movements – there has been a noted disintegration of the black family and abortion wasn’t exactly popularized during slavery, these people from Family Leader are clearly absent of one of the true atrocities of slavery. How many families were broken up as slaves were sold off like cattle? How much mating was forced on blacks to produce more able-bodied slaves? How many family lineages were destroyed after slave owners raped and impregnated enslaved women? If conservatives nt to focus on the voluntary disintegration of the family (if there ever was such a thing), using slavery for political points is preposterous.
It’s silliness like this that will all, but assure that Blacks as a whole will never support the Republican agenda. Even as black people generally hold many of the same morally (if not socially) conservative views as Republicans, they also recognize the consistent practice of conservatives to casually and insensitively make observations that completely ignore history. Even now when conservatives offer scathing analyses of black pathologies in the modern day, they fail to do so with proper social context. In short, they love to point out the problem areas, but never take into account the social factors in play that precipitate certain behaviors. Look no further than the recent trends of ahistoricism we’ve seen from neocons and Tea Party activists who have made deities of the Founding Fathers, while conveniently ignoring the legacy of slavery by which many of them benefitted.
Secondly, I can’t say enough about how annoying it is to watch conservatives sing the same off-key song about the sanctity of marriage and family; resting their case by rallying against wedlock and single parenthood found in the so-called “black community.” They love to spout off damning statistics which vilify blacks who have children born out of wedlock but will sit quiet when whites do the same thing. Uh, anybody ever watch MTV’s hit reality show Teen Mom? Lest my point be completely lost, can we not forget about one, Bristol Palin, who stands proof-positive that being a pregnant, unwed white girl is formula for success? Between her book, a TV show, and serious cash for being a “motivational speaker”, we have some evidence (albeit, outlying evidence) that single motherhood is not viewed in the same light for everyone. *As a side note: it’s odd to me that conservatives will decry having babies out of wedlock while ALSO trying to dictate reproduction rights.*
Third, what’s the deal with this vow nonsense anyway? Republicans (and yes, Democrats too) have a history of breaking promises, especially as it relates to marriage. So exactly what kind of legitimacy should we expect out of this? Candor dictating, I’m sick to death of hearing white conservatives acting as if they are somehow the exemplars of morality when – in reality – they are the complete antithesis. We have seen countless examples (and this is just in recent years) of “family values” conservatives involved in all sorts of kinky stuff. So it stands to reason that signing cheesy pledges will not stop anyone, including people vying for the White House, from engaging in the very same practices they claim to abhor.
Finally, backtracking on a statement doesn’t remove the sentiment behind it…at least, as the case may be, in politics. Most of us can make a claim or comment that is factually incorrect or unknowingly insensitive. And when brought to our attention, we simply say “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please accept my apology.” But in this instance, one has to wonder if Family Leader and conservatives of that ilk truly sincerely remorseful or if they believe what they are saying and are just offering a damage-control apology. I don’t know much about Family Leader, I’ll be the first to admit. But following the history of conservative politics, I’d bet they have little for which they are truly apologetic. I’m pretty confident statements like this and sentiments like theirs will continually find there way into headlines…immediately following some tepid apology. Let’s face it: that’s just how they roll.
Like anything, though, I suppose there is a silver lining here. At least in the preamble, they pointed out how “disastrous” slavery was. Baby steps, right?