Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

09 August 2009

How O'Reilly perfects the back handed compliment

In this weekend's Parade magazine, Bill O'Reilly writes a piece entitled, "What President Obama Can Teach America's Kids." When I saw that, I thought, "Huh?" But then I read it and wow...Can the man write a nice backhanded compliment!

The disruption of the traditional American family is also adversely affecting millions of children. Right now, almost 22 million American kids are living with one parent; more than 80% of those are being raised primarily by Mom. Just 50 years ago, a child living without a father was somewhat of a rarity. Now it’s an epidemic.

Ah...the set up. He's not talking to all American kids, but only those who are being raised by mom alone!

Lesson One: Forgiveness
President Obama was just 2 when his father abandoned him and his mother in Hawaii. Four years later, his mother took her little son to Indonesia after she remarried... So when Barry, as he was called, turned 10, he was sent back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents while his mother stayed abroad. ..He does not harbor bitterness toward his parents. Instead, he accepted his situation and saw it as a challenge. He forgave his folks and embraced a positive outlook.

Egads! Not only was he abandoned by his father, but his mother sent him to live with his grandparents...abandoning him too! Bill neglects the fact that Obama's mom was working on her PhD and if I recall correctly, Obama wanted out of Indonesia as well. Plus the schools were better in Hawaii. It's been awhile since I read "Dreams from my Father." Please correct me if I am misremembering.

Lesson Two: Respect
Even though his mom and dad apparently put their needs ahead of his, he speaks of them in mostly affectionate terms. He finds a way not to demean them

Well isn't that big of the POTUS?! And shame on his parents for putting their needs ahead of their precious child...OMG, I'm going to puke. I'm not going to attempt to figure out Obama's dad's reasons, but again, his mom was working on her PhD. Thus I firmly believe that Obama's mom made the best decision for Obama and herself. It must have pained her to let him leave her, but as my favorite non-custodial parent will tell you, sometimes letting the kid go is the most loving decision.

Lesson three is the pivotal lesson in the essay. The dig isn't as harsh but starts to turn the article into something that is almost worthy of reading to my daughter.

Yes, Barack Obama is *the* poster child for "Don't whine kid, keep on moving!" But also for affirmative action. For loving families. For single mothers who need a few villages to help raise the kids. For so many things. But we don't need to disparage his mother in order to teach kids a lesson. Any child of color knows that we have a disadvantage from the get go. All Obama had to do was win without being a member of a political dynasty family and he was a tale to tell.

And yes, as a working and politically active mother, I find the thinly veiled jabs at his mother as jabs at all of us who "put our needs (work, intellectual stimulation, etc) ahead of (our kids)."

Oh, why oh why did Parade ask or let Bill write this? I assume that this must be one of those "we can be civil, can't we?" moments, but really?

0 comments: