Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More on The Marriage Vow

First, I didn't talk at all yesterday about the statement of motivations in The Marriage Vow that preceded its fourteen provisions, which included two claims that have since been removed:

  • Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President.
  • LBJ’s 1965 War on Poverty was triggered in part by the famous “Moynihan Report” finding that the black out-of-wedlock birthrate had hit 26%; today, the white rate exceeds that, the overall rate is 41%, and over 70% of African-American babies are born to single parent. 

Professor of Religion Althea Butler wrote a scatching commentary on this at Religion Dispatches:

Um, Hell-to-the-yeah slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families. White slave owners broke apart families to sell, raped black women, and often confiscated the babies from these forced unions. Somehow, conservatives like Bob Vander Plaats forget to mention that. They are too busy buying into the fake history of the forefathers from WallBuilders
The statement that a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household is a boldfaced, ignorant lie, designed to tug at conservative white heartstrings and sucker in some African-American Christian conservatives. To wit, let me quote Frederick Douglass from his autobiography: “The practice of separating mothers from their children and hiring them out at long distances too great to admit of the meeting, save at long intervals, was a market feature of the cruelty and barbarity of the slave system... It had no interest in recognizing or preserving any of the ties that bind families together or to their homes” 
I am really getting sick and tired of the conservative meme about saving marriage, and placing the shaky foundation of their argument on African-American single parent birth and wedlock rates. Conservatives idolize the founding fathers, yet they conveniently forget the legacy of slavery and its atrocities many of the founders acquiesced to. While conservatives tick off statistics about African-American babies born out of wedlock, Teen Mom is the MTV show where teenage white girls can get their cash on by being pregnant and beating up their boyfriends on TV. Bristol Palin is proof that being a pregnant, unwed white girl is enough for a memoir at 20 called Not Afraid of Life. Put this together with all the reproductive rights rollbacks on abortion and the like, and the schizophrenic hysteria of the right doesn’t hold up. 
When it comes to vows, pledges, and the like, the last thing I want to hear it from is a white male conservative authoring some sappy pledge for candidates to sign. After reading the report on John Ensign and Mark Sandford hitting the Appalachian Trail, and the RNC using funds at a sex-themed voyeur nightclub, moralizing, asinine pledges aren’t going to stop anyone, including the candidates, from having sex and watching lots of porn. Add in the ahistoricism of the right, and it’s laughable that any pledge from this hypocritical bunch could hold water.

I don't think I have anything to add to that.

Also, today Salon published an interview with The Family Leader founder Bob Vander Plaats, who authored The Marriage Vow, including apparently the worst photo of him they could find. I'm really not a fan of that, even when the person in question is someone I despise. Some background on TFL generally Vander Plaats specifically:

The Family Leader was formed after the 2010 elections as a coalition of Iowa social conservative advocacy groups, with Bob Vander Plaats as its executive director and public face. Vander Plaats had become the best known conservative culture warrior in Iowa that year after receiving a respectable 41 percent of the vote in the GOP gubernatorial primary; his campaign focused on reversing a 2009 decision by the state supreme court allowing same-sex marriage. 
After losing in the primary, the fiercely anti-gay Vander Plaats led the successful campaign to oust three supreme court justices who had voted for the same-sex marriage decision. Now at the helm of the Family Leader, he has brought in presidential hopefuls for a speech series and is openly cultivating an image as Iowa kingmaker.

When asked whether TFL's support hinges on the matter of whether or not a candidate would sign the Vow, Vander Plaats replied:
What we've said is that a primary candidate for the office of president will not get our support if they can't sign this pledge. If they can't sign the pledge, we're going to ask them questions like, "Where's the issue you have with the pledge?" Because we want to have a discussion and a debate. And if for any reason they point out something we're just wrong on, then we'd admit it and say "OK, we're wrong on that." But we don't see that.
Are you surprised? I'm not surprised.

Regarding the plank concerning Sharia Islam:

There's one section in the pledge that says the candidate has to reject -- the phrase used is "Sharia Islam" -- can you describe what you mean by that phrase and what you want the candidates to reject in that? 
Well, Sharia Islam -- and I'm not an expert on Sharia Islam -- but I think just in the brief knowledge [I have] of Sharia Islam, one you can have multiple wives, and two is you can have temporary wives, and three is I think it disrespects women as a whole. And so we see Sharia Islam as being an issue. 
Only a "brief knowledge," yet apparently it is such a threat that it must be specifically mentioned in a statement on protecting marriage that presidential candidates are being asked to sign. Got it. Are we supposed to assume that the candidates know more about Sharia than Vander Plaats does?

Regarding pornography:

Another part of the vow that's gotten attention was the clause about promising to protect women and children from a long list of evils. Some of those things were obviously crimes -- human trafficking was one -- but there was also pornography. What would you say to people who don't see pornography as a threat to women? And secondly, do you think only women need to be protected from pornography or should men be, too? 
Well I think if you read in that, there's also the word "coercion" -- "coerced." I don't have the vow in front of me right now, but I think if you read that it's going to talk about coercion as it relates to abortion, prostitution, pornography. What we're trying to do is have a high standard for women and for children, as well as for marriages and for family. 
Some people were saying that the pledge was somehow calling for a ban on pornography, is that what it was intended to do? 
No, not at all. I think if the Family Leader could have its way, we'd probably say we'd like to have a ban on pornography. But that's not the vow. The vow was [about] forcing women into pornography.
Really? Let me remind you, Mr. Vander Plaats, of what the vow you authored actually says on that:

Humane protection of women . . .from all forms of pornography. . . and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.
Sure sounds to me like you're defining pornography as a form of coercion, or at least "stolen innocence" (whatever that means), from which women need to be "protected." Suddenly consent matters!  Just not enough to make it clear in the document presidential candidates are being expected to sign, apparently.

1 comment:

  1. Not to mention that even referring to slave quarters as "households" is ludicrous.


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