Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sticks and Stones

To: mkampp AT yahoo DOT com

Sam Harris: Sexist Pig and Liberal Shill

I've received more than the usual amount of criticism for my
recent opinion piece on Sarah Palin, most of it alleging sexism
and/or an unseemly infatuation with Barack Obama. For those
who care, I'd like to briefly respond:

My alleged sexism: It is true that I used some
hackneyed, gender-slanted language in the piece
("get sassy," "girl-next-door," etc.). This was deliberate.
Clearly, I played this game at my peril. I can say that if
Sarah Palin were a man of similar qualifications,
I would have used equally slanted language to describe
him. I might have called Mr. Palin a "frat-boy" or
a "lumberjack." I would have invoked some silly macho
phrasing like,"Watch Cousin Jim flip Putin the bird."
My concern is not that Mrs. Palin is a woman. My concern
is that she is a totally unqualified and poorly educated
woman who was added to the Republican ticket as a
woman (and Creationist wacko). For what it's worth,
the article was vetted by the two women closest to me
(wife and mother) and by two female editors at the LA Times.
If anything, the editing at the Times made the piece
even more "sexist."

My alleged Obamamania: Many McCain supporters have
written to say that (1) Obama is also unqualified (or even less
qualified than Palin) and (2) I have shown myself to be a
hypocrite by not objecting to Obama's religiosity. Briefly: My
criticism of Palin should not be construed as uncritical
acceptance of Obama. Needless to say, I find Obama's
religious pandering repulsive. The suspicion that he is
pandering, out of obvious necessity, and not quite as
religious as he makes out, is somewhat comforting, however.
But even if Obama were precisely as religious as he appears,
he is not a Creationist, Rapture-Ready blockhead. Palin,
by all appearances, seems to be one. This is a difference
worth noting. Whatever you may think of his politics,
Obama is very intelligent and reasonably well educated.
Palin thinks the universe is 6000 years old. Unfortunately,
I wrote my article before some of the most disturbing signs
of her religious extremism came to light.

So, let me simply declare that I would be overjoyed to
have a qualified woman in the White House. I would,
likewise, be overjoyed to have a qualified African American
in the White House. In fact, I would be overjoyed to have
a qualified WASP man in the White House. I will be
guardedly optimistic to have a very smart
(and somewhat qualified) Barack Obama in the White House.
And I would be frankly terrified to have a religious
bumpkin like Sarah Palin in the White House.
I think you should share this last conviction.
Hence my latest opinion piece.

Best, Sam


Dear Sam,

You are neither a sexist pig nor a liberal shill. I've seen you up against Chris Hitchens and Richard Dawkins; you're nobody's shill.

Sarah Palin is quoted as saying that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by the 'Founding Fathers', complete with the phrase "under God'. If I'm not mistaken, the Pledge was written in 1898 and the 'under God' part was added in the 1950's.

Sarah Palin, when asked about her possible nomination as the Republican candidate for Vice President, said that she couldn't answer until someone told her what the duties of the Vice President are!

Sarah Palin wanted to ban books from her local library. (If I were a person of religious faith, I'd believe that there must be some circle of Hell reserved for those who seek to ban books!)

And, yes, when Barack Obama said "God bless America" during his speech at the DNC, I wanted to puke. But I'm going to vote for him anyway, because I don't think that he will cite scripture as a rationale for policy decisions or claim that God whispers in his ear regarding international relations.

I hesitate to describe myself as a feminist because then I'll be perceived as someone else's definition of the word. But many people who know me would describe me as a feminist. Accepting that designation (for the moment) I can tell you that I found nothing offensive in your article about Sarah Palin. Keep writing, Sam.

- Maggie Carneiro (Hermana)

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