Saturday, December 9, 2006

An American Pregnancy

Until earlier this week, I had absolutely no reason whatsoever to be concerned with the welfare of Mary Cheney. I like Lesbians. All things being equal, I would rather sit next to a Lesbian stranger on a long train journey than a non-Lesbian stranger, because I’ve had such good experience with lesbians in the past. But I no longer relate to all gays and lesbians as automatic brothers and sisters, having discovered a whole bunch of folks with whom I have absolutely nothing in common beyond sexual identity. No complaint there. It is an indicator of how far we’ve come since the early days when gays had to stick together to be safe, that I can make that statement.

I don’t feel a strong connection with Mary Cheney, I’m trying to say. And Mary Cheney registers as “daughter of Dick and Lynn Cheney” well before she registers in my mind as lesbian. It’s not her fault she was born to Satan, of course, but I have to tell you her being lesbian was hardly enough to make up for helping her war criminal dad get reelected to the job of telling W how to run the world. For that, I might still cheerfully assign her a spiked seat in hell, if I ever get to decide who sits where. And add a couple extra spikes for working for Adolph Coors, to boot.

And yet, that bit of personal animus has kind of faded since I heard that she and her partner, Heather Poe, were making their marriage public. Considering all those right wingers that must come to sup at the Cheney table, this must have taken some courage, don’t you think?

Then, last Thursday, when I read she was pregnant I couldn’t help myself. I smiled. And what was that feeling leaking out of a dark and usually unused corner of my non-Republican heart? Affection?

Go, girls. More power to you.

As for you, Mr. C, for telling the world you were looking forward to your sixth grandchild, it would appear that just maybe you’re not actually Satan. Maybe I’ll have to downgrade you to Darth Vader. No that’s too far. Goebbels. He apparently loved dogs and his children quite sincerely.

Never mind. You’re not what is important here. This little baby coming into the world is.

Man, what this kid is going to have to grow up with. Two Lesbian moms and a world community of gay and lesbian parents begging for recognition on the one hand, and a grandfather, on the other hand, whose success as war profiteer depends on humoring the bastards demonizing his much loved daughter.

Now, if you are following the American Culture Wars, that is interesting.

What this kid won’t have to face is the prospect of sleeping under a bridge. Living in the inner city. Choosing between joining a gang to stay alive or getting stabbed on the way home from school. This little tyke will be reading as soon as his/her little eyes will focus, riding horses if the spirit calls, rubbing elbows with movers and shakers and, like most well born and wanted children in America, learning the many ways that life can be good.

There will be some limitations, of course. Thanks to Grandpa Cheney’s supporters, her non-womb parent will not be permitted to give her permission for a school field trip, and will not be able, legally, to have access to her in the hospital, God forbid she should want and need to. Virginia, where they live, will not permit Mama Heather, her birthmother’s partner of fifteen years, to adopt her, thanks to those folks with Family Values who took pains to pass a law just this year to that effect. Mary and Heather could fix all that, of course, by moving to the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain or Canada. Or Massachusetts. But they both have jobs they like, so I suppose that’s out.

The so-called traditional family folk, like Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, are beating the drums quite predictably on the dangers of having babies without daddies, once again entirely missing the point that being born to a caring, responsible and self-aware single parent is infinitely better for a kid than being born to a mother/father combo who raise you in fear and resentment. Being born to two caring parents makes life a whole lot richer yet, but it’s the network of real and chosen family that makes all the difference, and not an even distribution of sex organs and supposed gender roles.

Ms. Crouse’s stunning lack of understanding is not new, and the ideologically fixated will always be with us. But mercy, Lord, could these folks please pick up a newspaper now and then? Or rent that marvelous DVD called All Aboard Rosie’s Family Cruise, maybe? Check in with the American Psychological Association? I suppose that’s like asking the folks convinced of dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden to study up on carbon dating.

Which brings us to the good news. The fact this is happening in the Cheney household is keeping the toxic religion folk on a leash while the rest of us get a closer look at a gay household in transition and at the battle it has to fight for recognition.

Carrie Gordon Earll, spokesperson for Focus on the Family blathers on as predicted about what a bad lady Ms. Cheney is for not manning herself up before conceiving a child. But that only leads Jeff Lutes, Executive Director of Soulforce, an organization formed to fight “the misuse of religion to sanction the condemnation and rejection of any of God’s children,” to issue the following statement: "We wish Mary Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, a future full of love and joy. We find it unconscionable that Focus on the Family has exploited their good news in order to once again ignore or distort the social science research on same-sex parent families."

Well said, Jeff.

Happy parenting, Mary and Heather.

December 9, 2006

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Letter to Robert Fisk

Mr. Robert Fisk
The Independent

Dear Mr. Fisk:

In reading your December 2 review in The Independent of Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française, I was struck by your suggestion that the French government was at work in Vienna recently censoring the fact that over 11,000 Jewish children were handed over to the Nazis for extermination under Pétain’s administration.

You don’t provide your sources, but I managed to locate both what I take to be the Vienna Jewish Film Festival’s blurb on the film La Mémoire des Enfants and the French Embassy’s shorter version with the reference to the number of children removed.

“But imagine Mr Draschen's rage,” you write,

"…when he discovered that the French embassy in Vienna, which hosted the film's premiere, deleted the following sentence from its programme: "11,400 Jewish children from France were handed over to the Nazis by the French authorities and murdered at Auschwitz."

"Why, in God's name, was this act of censorship permitted? President Jacques Chirac recognised in 1995 that the French state was responsible for the deportation of the Jews, but somehow the Quai d'Orsay seems to have missed out on this. Certainly the staff of the French Institute in Vienna didn't get the message. Should they be sent a complimentary copy of Némirovsky's agonisingly tragic novel? Or just an invitation to the next mass for the late Marshal Philippe Pétain of France?"

I won’t quibble that there are many in France, and no doubt in the French government, who are slow to fess up to the shameful behavior of many in France under the Vichy regime, and no doubt anti-semitism is alive and well in France.

But it seems to me if you’re going to document those claims, you need to be careful to do it accurately. And get Draschan’s name right, as well.

Where is your evidence here that the editing in the embassy piece was anything more than limiting publicity to information about the film event itself? Or that this is a decision by a single member of the clerical staff and not the Quai d’Orsay? After all, if the embassy is pointing people toward the film and the film festival, does this suggest they are in the business of covering up French history?

If my sources below are not in fact the sources to which you refer, I stand corrected. If they are, you’re not giving the French an even break. You’re too good at what you do to make irresponsible potshots like this.

With best wishes from a devoted reader,

Alan McCornick
Berkeley, California, USA

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