Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Congratulations to the Palin women

Needless to say, I have no particular fondness for Sarah Palin's political views, and I don't expect to be voting Republican this fall. At this stage it would be monstrously irresponsible of the United States President not to recognize the reality of global climate change, and it would be dangerous of us to have a President who has as much faith as McCain or Palin in American military adventurism abroad.

Nevertheless, I do have a lot of respect for Ms. Palin as a person and as a woman, and I would expect us all to feel the same way, regardless of our politics. We should be reasonable enough to recognize the good in our political opponents, and there is a lot of good in Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin's life story in some important ways embodies the good and true aspects of feminism. Women should not be forced to choose between having a career and having a family- and in fact, Ms. Palin hasn't had to choose. One could almost say that Ms. Palin is a truer model of feminism than Hillary Clinton. She didn't ride her husband's coat-tails to public office, she was able to have five children to Hillary's one (most American women do not want to have five kids, but they also want to have more than one), and she even takes part in traditionally 'masculine' sports like moose hunting. Ms. Clinton, for all her achievements, did apparently have to sacrifice the good of a second child- Ms. Palin hasn't, and so she provides living proof that a woman can achieve high public office, not playing second fiddle to anyone, and not giving up her hope to have a family.

Ms. Palin's personal choices with respect to children also deserve our respect and admiration. She could easily have chosen to 'get rid of' her last child, Trig, who has Down's syndrome. Over 90% of Americans make that choice. It's the wrong choice of course, as abortion is almost always the wrong choice: life should tell us that the easy choice is seldom the right one. Ms. Palin made the right choice, and the hard one: the same choice the parents of a good friend of mine made when they had their last child.

Let me make this clear, I'm not just affirming her freedom to make that decision. That's a meaningless and silly form of affirmation. I am saying that she made the right choice, and that any other choice would have been the wrong one, even if it's the one that most Americans would have made. Ms. Palin was tested in the fires where temptation burns away at our souls, and she emerged with her sense of right and wrong unscathed. We are all tested at various critical points in our lives, and we should hope that we can respond with the courage and charity of Ms. Palin.

Likewise, we ought to lend our support and admiration for her daughter Bristol, who has made the right decision- and again, the hard one- to keep her baby. A great many young Americans in her position would have 'gotten rid of it'. For the sake of their freedom, or their careers, or their education, or simply because they didn't want a baby. Bristol Palin again realized that the easy choice is seldom the right one, and she chose to keep her child. No doubt she will endure some hardship and pain for it, although being the Governor's daughter she will have money and a support system, resources that too many young women in America lack. But again, she deserves our applause for choosing life, in the face of a culture that tells her to choose her own happiness.

We should, finally, extend our admiration and respect to young Mr. Johnston, who has made the right decision by offering to marry Ms. Palin. It seems to me that that's simply the decent thing to do, if you get a woman pregnant, to offer to marry her. It's really too sad that too many men in America have forgotten this elementary moral precept.

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