I am a feminist. On most issues, like choice on abortion and equal pay for equal work, I’m likely to agree with the position of the National Organization of Women. At the same time, I am highly skeptical of identity politics. And this is a perfect example of why: the New York chapter of NOW is blasting Ted Kennedy for his “betrayal” of women because he has endorsed Barack Obama for president rather than Hillary Clinton. An excerpt below the fold:
In a sharply critical statement, the New York state chapter of NOW took aim at Kennedy Monday for what it called an “ultimate betrayal,” and suggested the Massachusetts Democrat “can’t or won’t” handle the idea of Clinton becoming President of the United States.
“Sen. Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard,” said the statement. “Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few.”
“And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment!” the statement continues. “He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton.”…
But the NOW state chapter suggested Monday Kennedy’s decision was a larger representation of society’s ongoing disrespect for women’s rights.
“This latest move by Kennedy is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation — to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a president that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”
That is just sad. The only possible implication of this is that if you don’t support Hillary Clinton for president that can only be because you hate women and want to violate their rights. And that, my friends, is absolutely idiotic. It’s every bit as idiotic, and absolutely identical in substance, as someone suggesting that if you don’t support Barack Obama you must hate black people.
But if we’re going to apply such “logic” consistently, doesn’t that mean that those women who are urging a vote for Hillary Clinton must hate black people? If you suggested that, they would no doubt scoff and call you a jerk, but that is the clear logical implication of their position. If your lack of support for Hillary Clinton proves that you just want to keep down everyone who shares ovaries with her, would it not also be true that your lack of support for Barack Obama proves that you just want to keep down everyone who shares an elevated melanin level with him? I mean, if we’re going to play such shallow groupthink games, let’s not go halfway let’s go all the way.
Is this really the message they want to send? After all, if it’s okay to argue that one should vote for a candidate solely because they are female, why is it wrong to argue that one should vote against a candidate solely because she’s female? And where does that leave black women? Are they supposed to vote for their race or their gender? If they vote for their race, does that show that they hate their gender? If they vote for their gender, does that show that they hate their race?
Hey, I’ve got a crazy idea: maybe people should vote for the person they think will do the best job in office no matter what their skin color or gender. I know it sounds nuts but I seem to recall a wise man once calling for us to embrace the notion that we should judge a person by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin (or the number of X chromosomes they have).
This notion that not voting for Hillary Clinton is a “betrayal” of women in general is, to be blunt, utterly moronic. Thankfully, the New York chapter of NOW has some opposition from the national NOW, which had this to say:
Meanwhile, the national chapter of NOW sought to distance itself from the state chapter’s comments, issuing a statement Monday evening that praised Kennedy’s record with respect to women’s rights.
“Though the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee has proudly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, we respect Sen. Kennedy’s endorsement,” NOW President Kim Gandy said. “We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote.”
But here’s what they should have said: “We continue to encourage all Americans to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote for the candidate they believe is best, regardless of their gender or race. We have fought too long and hard for women to be judged on their merits instead of their gender to turn back the clock and demand that gender should trump merit when it suits our short-term purposes.”