Thursday, February 4, 2010

On Matters of Language, Politics and Rham Emanuel

There's a big flap over Rham's comment about the Democrats in Congress when he insulted them by calling them f---ing retards. The current administration prides itself on its intellect and its capacity to think of solutions but the call to remove the word "Retarded" from all the papers of Congress is symbolic at best. Calling the Kennedy's to apologize also struck me as a silly response. He has since sought to make amends by asking that we all draw a black curtain over the word retarded. How about we draw a curtain over the word f---ing? Or over using insults as a substitute for argument?

Now ugly is as ugly says, and Rham certainly meant no respect to those he criticized by his words. But banning words seems largely irrelevant to the true issue; that the Chief of Staff for the President lacks class, tact and a generous heart. If he speaks in private of his allies and his own party in such pejorative terms, imagine what he says about the opposition, any opposition.

Should he lose his job? No.
Do I think he should engage in public self flagellation? Again no and I'm a conservative Republican Catholic mother of a Down syndrome child.
Do I hope he engages in a bit of introspection about his own attitudes towards others in general? Yes.

As the mother of Paul, I don't give too much weight to the idea of no longer saying the medical condition my son actually has. My son has some retardation; it is part of his actual genetic condition. Retardation is I think the reason people fear Down syndrome so much that 90 percent of all diagnosed in utero are aborted. While the range of handicapping is unknown, the reality of that handicapping quality is a given. It is an inescapable fact. I'm not always happy to face this fact, but if I look in his eyes, the fact falls away because it does not matter in the broader context of who my son Paul is.

However I don't think we want a government Republican or Democrat monopolized by the most thinly skinned person in the country.  I don't think we'd like a society where whoever yells "I feel hurt!" gets vindicated and the offender gets marched to the firing lines of public opinion. No.

I think giving full license to that sort of psychological adolescent peevishness will eliminate the capacity not only to communicate and govern but to tolerate being human or being in the presence of other humans.  If we cannot say what we see or mean what we think, if all we can engage in is politically correct edited redacted sanitized for your protection speech, why will we want to speak about anything anywhere at all? It is dulling to the intellect and the heart to live in fear that others will take offense or take over offense.

But since the President reads blogs, I'll offer my 2 cents tax free. Rham, go to the mike. Say the truth. "I was really annoyed with the folks in Congress and I mouthed off. It wasn't my finest hour." and if he wanted to use humor, he could pull a page from Keith Olberman a'la Scott Brown, "I shouldn't have called them what I called them. What I meant to say, was, "They're spineless greedy self absorbed bloated power mad hypocritical preening lost souls who won't do what we want."

Then at least, Rham would be on the same page with all the rest of the American people in his opinion of Congress.

1 comment:

MightyMom said...

funny thing is, not only is it no longer okay to say "retarded", it's also no longer okay to say "normal". As in, sometimes I wish my kids were normal. I've seen people get sooooo upset at that. well, dammit, they're NOT normal. "normal" is what all parents want. and good grief I'm tired of "typically developing" crap. it's too many syllables.

and honestly, sometimes...I really do feel retarded. really I do.

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