Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Photo: Todd Akin's official 109th Congress photo, from his Wikipedia page.
[This entry is the second half of the most recent one, below, posted a few days ago. Look below, or click here.]
So, a few things:
According to his Wikipedia page, Akin graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a very good and prestigious school. Bush graduated from Yale, but whatever. Awhile after that, he worked for IBM selling supercomputers, which doesn't sound like something a dummy can do, either. Then he got a Masters of Divinity Degree from Covenant Theological Seminary, in 1984. He entered the political arena by running unopposed for a seat. He then won some close races, but then he won by large margins--until this year. It jumps out at me that he voted against public funding support for school nurses and school breakfasts and lunches. In a 2008 speech on the House floor, Akin called abortion providers "terrorists" and alleged that it was "common practice" for abortion providers to perform abortions on women who were not actually pregnant.
So what are we to make of this? An intelligent guy--or a college-educated one, which Bush proved isn't the same thing--saying the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard (and with my job, that's saying something) about a controversial topic, during his own campaign, with a conclusion that this man clearly seriously believed, based on no facts at all (and one wonders who those "doctors" were), probably gleaned from something he'd heard someone say once...and yet the most bothersome things to me in all this is his mention of the phrase "legitimate rape," and the fact that he thinks abortionists are performing abortions on women who are not pregnant.
First, then, is the uncomfortable feeling that this man has a pretty good idea of what he thinks "legitimate" and, therefore, "illegitimate" rapes are. He never elaborated, but it must be that he thinks a large proportion of rape victims are simply lying about the rape. Or, maybe more disturbingly, he subscribes to the notion of blaming the victim, that perhaps some rape victims wear skirts that are too short, or that they are promiscuous, and are therefore rape victims after the fact. Who knows? But he clearly, in his own mind, is making a distinction here, in whatever land he lives in, and he's not giving the rest of us the bridge to get there.
Or is he?
Maybe this is Conservative Republicanland, where men are very fearful of women, and therefore hold a certain resentment towards them. This reminds me a bit of the illogical thoughts and fears people had about African-Americans, and it's really not too far of a stretch to say that such men held both women and African-Americans in disdain back in the day. Do they still, in different ways?
Are their women thought of as such foreign animals as African-Americans were? Remember when every black man was thought to be raging for white men's white women? When black men were prone liars, and prone to violence? When they were all so simple-minded?
How about Jews? Remember when they were thought to be able to bewitch people? That they killed Christ? That they ruled all the monetary establishments in the world? That they controlled the world's banks? That they were money-driven liars and chisellers? (I know a couple of Jewish people who can't balance their own checkbooks.)
Now we have women who somehow have the power to stop the biological process after being raped. (Notice that the rapists themselves are ignored in such conversations. They would be, of course, men.) We have women who will, apparently, create "illegitimate" rape stories, perhaps after realizing they didn't want to have sex with that man after all. Maybe they're thought to be drunken, promiscuous louts who don't want to be thought of that way? Maybe they're thought to be dressed for it, flirting for it, and therefore asking for it? We have women who will, for some reason, consent to an abortion without ever being pregnant to begin with.
This is foreign animal thinking here. This man clearly thinks that women don't have anything in common with men, or with him specifically. He can't think of them as human, and still think and speak of them like this. After all, one does not get asked a question about rape, and about abortion laws that do not blink at rape or incest, and then suddenly spit out this bad boy of a statement. In fact, people who know this guy can't possibly be surprised by his answer here. One cannot be a reasonably intelligent, intellectually steadfast, verbally proficient person--and then suddenly spout out this bad boy. (One cannot imagine Lincoln, Obama or even Clinton saying this.) He's had to have said tons of things like this before--such as the wild animal abortionists performing abortions on women who are not pregnant statement above. I don't know what in the world he's thinking, but I'll bet that he thinks he knows what he's thinking.
And I'll bet he's not the only one thinking it. How can he be? Even Mitt Romney thought he was talking to an entire room of supporters (without the one traitor) when he let loose his 47% bad boy. He clearly thought he was preaching to the choir there--and, for the most part, he was. I have a feeling Akin thought the same, that he was speaking to a closed room of supporters rather than to an open mike and a camera. His real crime to his party wasn't in what he said--it's that, like Romney, he was being too honest. Really saying what he felt. And feeling that he had a large audience who'd agree with him. Why would he think he had an agreeing audience unless it was, at least moderately, the case? Go back up to the politically-confused Mr. Broun, the congressman who thought he had a captive, agreeing audience that would cheer him (as many of them did) when he said that the Bible controlled his every political decision. You don't think he thinks he's preaching to the choir there?
Romney really felt that 47% of the country--ironically in his mind, all of them Obama voters--were leeches of the government, couch potatoes and pot smokers and baby producers who don't try to find work, all of them lazy. How many white men does he see in that picture? I think, when he envisions that 47%, that they're all minorities, and women, and teens (or black teen women). And so I also think Akin envisions women in this way. They're rape victims. They're promiscuous women who lie about being raped. They're such loathsome creatures that they would allow an abortion without even being pregnant. But, as disdainfully as he views them, they're somehow so powerful that they can shut down the entire creation process (quite like God, in fact) if they want to, after they've been raped. This is the same man who inserted unwanted legislation into a bill that lawmakers were trying to pass to publicly support school nurses [i.e.--women]. After Akin insisted that the bill contain a provision that such nurses could not speak of, or provide, birth control to the students, none of the Missouri lawmakers wanted to pass it.
This last bit deserves recognition. Nurses (women) can't speak of condoms, or provide information about other birth control. Women cannot have abortions under any circumstance, including rape and incest. In other words, they also cannot provide their own birth control. I'll repeat that: birth control. Simply stated, he does not want women to control birth. More important than rape, or incest, or their own health is the fact that he does not want them to control birth. In short, he does not want them to be God. That is, apparently, for he, and other men, to do. It's all about who has the power to control birth. I smell fear there, and perhaps a bit of a Freudian issue. (I would love to interview his wife and/or mother.)
Overall, then, I think he thought he was speaking to the choir, and was astonished to find that he wasn't. (Read his Wikipedia page to learn of quite a few instances in which he thought he was verbally holding forth, only to apologize and backtrack after he realized he was being hissed at. And these are just times, mentioned here, in a large public forum. I wonder what he has said to his wife or daughters over dinner over the years.) Do I think there's large contingent of southern and midwestern white Christian conservative males who still fear women, and minorities, and homosexuals, and anyone who's not a white Christian conservative male?
Yes. Yes, I do. We've seen nine of them lately, old white men yahoos who are (or, rather, after Tuesday, were) shockingly in positions of power to put forth this rather violently hateful agenda. (And shame on the people who voted them in and gave them that power. Akin has been in power for over ten years.) And since the Old Testament largely feared the same groups of people, and was vehemently against them, (For example, when Adam is rebuked about eating the fruit, God chastises him first for listening to the woman, and only secondly for disobeying Him and eating the fruit. As Satan and the snake are still seen as tempters, so too, apparently, are women still seen as the temptresses, and therefore something to be feared and loathed.) then the two have become as one.
How stringent is this mental framework in that segment of the population? Well, I'll ask you: When someone asks you for your opinion about abortion, do you immediately speak of women who've lied about rape? Do you think of how women can shut down the entire process of giving birth? If you're fixated on males controlling birth, and not the dastardly abortionists or women (notice how he sort of grouped those together in that other quoted comment) then, yes, I guess you do. And he wasn't the only one lately, including almost-Vice-President Paul Ryan, and seven others. Nine men, all of them (former) important politicians, senators, congressmen and policymakers, all of them with a misunderstanding of the Separation of Church and State, all of them who will, as Mr. Broun did, flat out admit that the Bible controls their every political decision, all of whom think that the Bible "teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society." If the Bible--mostly the Old Testament--is viciously and violently against women, homosexuals, immigrants and minorities (those who were not of the same Jewish tribe as was the author of a particular passage that spoke against these things), then why wouldn't these guys be? And, therefore, why wouldn't they pass legislation that controls the rights of these groups of people, these Others, who they loathe and fear? (Which is why the Separation of Church and State is so important.)
I'll cover one of those eight other denizens of disinformation next:
As written by Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times: The delicate issue of pregnancies resulting from rape rattled another campaign for the Senate when Indiana's Republican Senate nominee, Richard Mourdock, said a life conceived by rape "is something that God intended to happen."