Today is our last day of vacation, and Bill and I really should be heading into Copenhagen to get some last photos. BUT FIRST… I feel compelled to vent my spleen about something I read in the New York Times the other day.
Extraordinarily gifted women’s gymnast Simone Biles has decided to train for her third Olympic Games. Plenty of people commenting on the news article about Ms. Biles were very supportive of her efforts, even though she’s considered “old” for the sport, and even though she withdrew from some events during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in 2021. Simone Biles was, if you recall, suffering from “the twisties”, which made competing even more dangerous than it usually is. She opted out of competing to protect her own health and wellbeing, which I think is her right.
But there were quite a few other comments, mostly from MALES, about how Simone Biles let America down in the last Summer Olympics. It always amazes me what these people think they have the right to comment on. I highly doubt most of the MALES commenting on women’s gymnastics even watch the sport. And a lot of them who do watch it probably just like looking at tiny women in revealing leotards doing death defying stunts.
It’s true that Simone Biles withdrew from several events and took up a spot that another athlete could have filled. But another American ultimately won the Olympic gold medal in the All Around competition, anyway. When I pointed that out, some guy posted that the women’s gymnastics team didn’t get the team gold medal. My reply to that is, “So what?” It’s a fucking medal. It’s not worth someone’s life or health.
Aren’t the Olympics supposed to be about “friendly” sports competitions among the world’s nations? Aren’t we supposed to be practicing good sportsmanship? Why is it so important to win medals? The medal isn’t worth someone’s ability to walk or talk. It’s not worth someone going through life with chronic pain due to preventable injuries brought on by taking risks and failing. It’s certainly not worth DEATH.
Women’s gymnastics at the elite level is a very dangerous sport. Many wonderful, extremely talented athletes have been seriously hurt or even killed due to performing when they weren’t ready or completely prepared. I would not have wanted to see Simone trying to land a difficult vault while she was suffering from the twisties. We would not have wanted to see her fail, especially if her failure included a catastrophic injury broadcasted on live television and the Internet. The Olympic medal is not worth that. It’s toxic to insist that an Olympic gold medal is worth all costs… especially when you’re a MALE who can’t do any of the things Simone makes look easy.
Some guy wanted to argue with me about this and I wrote that he wasn’t going to be someone with whom I should waste my time and energy arguing. I wished him a “nice day”. He wished me luck in my “safe space”. Translation? I bet he’s a Trump supporter who doesn’t see women as valuable in any capacity other than as objects of titillation. He obviously doesn’t care about female athletes as people. I probably shouldn’t have bothered, but I left him a short response… “I’m not in a ‘safe space’. I’m just right about this.” And while I didn’t bother to check his Facebook profile to see which politician he supports, I’m pretty sure I know…
Guys like him wear their political preferences like a badge, not unlike the idiot men I wrote about a few years ago who decided to test out a bullet proof vest while drinking. I knew they were Trump supporters just based on that, and when I checked out their social media profiles, I was proven right.
Simone Biles doesn’t owe anyone a goddamned thing. If she wants to try for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, that’s her prerogative. She may not be successful. Shannon Miller tried to make the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and she failed. Biles may fail, too. But she has the right to try if she wants to, and she should be respected for all she’s done so far. She’s won seven medals for Old Glory. I’m sure that’s way more than the moron male on Facebook has ever won.
It’s not just the athletes who have this ridiculous burden, either. Artists and performers face it, too. Maybe if people hadn’t expected so much of performers like Tom Petty, Karen Carpenter, Prince, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, and the like, they might all still be with us.
I’m sick and tired of toxic macho asswipes who armchair quarterback what extraordinary artists and athletes should be doing with their careers. It’s especially prevalent among men who comment on females. It’s the usual sexist bullshit… and in Biles’s case, it wouldn’t surprise me if racism came into play, too.
These guys have no room to talk about someone like Simone Biles. They probably ought to zip it… but we know they won’t. So I’ll just keep venting about it, as I wish Simone Biles the best of luck with her comeback. I hope she wipes the self-righteous smirks off the faces of the idiots who criticize her… but if she doesn’t manage to do that, that’s alright, too. She’s certainly done her part to “make America great,” and what she’s done is something I’d be proud to show my pseudo grandkids. I can’t say the same thing about Trump and his toxic macho ilk… and those who admire him.
Thursday already! This week is flying by, which is a good thing. Tomorrow is the big day. I don’t usually start packing before the morning of departure or maybe the night before, if we’re leaving early. For this big trip, I started filling my new suitcase on Tuesday. I am very ready to get out of here, even if there’s a part of me that kind of dreads the logistics. But I think I have most everything planned appropriately.
We’ll take Noyzi to the Hundehotel tomorrow morning, then head for the airport in advance of our early afternoon flight. It’ll be my first airplane ride since November 2019! By tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be in Oslo, the first stop of our multi-city Scandinavia/Baltics tour. 😉 I know it will be over before we know it, so I hope to savor everything… but I also know myself, and I’m sure there will be first world problems to complain about. I’ll try to confine them to my blogs.
And since we aren’t on vacation yet, allow me to offer some observations I’ve made since yesterday. Wednesday’s post was about the “right to complain” and how complaining doesn’t necessarily make a person a “karen”. And how I’m not a “karen” because I think the term “karen” is stupid and needs to go out of style. 😉
I’ll admit, I was a bit all over the map yesterday, because I was overwhelmed with examples for my post. That’s a problem, but it’s less of a problem than not having any examples to write about. Then, maybe you might have some trouble explaining exactly what you mean.
Today’s post, thankfully, does offer a good example of what I mean by its title. That is, it’s easy for people to pass judgment and get on a moral high horse about some things, when they aren’t actually in a given situation, and won’t suffer any hardships for advising someone to do what they think is the “right” thing to do. Once again, I’m going to bring up the Duggar family.
In the Duggar Family News Facebook group, the group leader, Pickles, shared some commentary from someone who used to work on 19 Kids and Counting. The person whose comments were referenced wasn’t identified, but it was someone who spent a lot of time around the Duggar family.
One person in the group wrote that crew members who filmed everything were complicit in the abuse, since they stood by and allowed all of this stuff to happen, but said nothing about it. She wrote:
The crew witnessed girls being forced into arranged marriages, forbidden to use birth control and then pregnancies with no prenatal care and agonizing childbirth. They suffered for days without proper medical care. The crew saw children that were not allowed to go anywhere without chaperones. They saw substandard teaching and educational materials because they were not allowed to go to school. The network constantly allowed them to praise their ATI and IBLP training sessions. The crew saw that their patriarch had total creative control. The crew saw girls made to wear long skirts with long uncut stringy hair that were constantly being slut-shamed. They saw girls that were forced to cook, clean and raise their siblings while the boys played. They saw the constant abuse of women and girls due to their Christian beliefs. The crew was silent and complicit.
As I read the above passage, I couldn’t help but think that it would be very difficult for the crew to do anything about what they saw. As Pickles pointed out:
Yes, but is any of that reportable to child protective services? In this country kids only need to be fed and have their basic needs met. It is sad sometimes that we can’t do more.
And Pickles is right. In many places in the United States, all that is necessary is that children have their basic needs met. We may not agree with how other people raise their children, but that doesn’t mean that the government has the right to intervene. And, honestly, as much as I don’t like seeing children raised in cults, I also think that there’s a slippery slope. A lot of well meaning people think they’re doing good, when they don’t have the whole story… or they think their way is automatically always the *best* way.
People often think they are above reproach, as they point the finger at other people. They never seem to realize that the standards they want to impose on other people could just as easily be imposed on them. Who’s to say that while you point your fingers at people you think are doing wrong, that certain other people won’t be pointing at you and saying the same thing? Would you want them to be able to dictate what’s right, and what’s not?
The original poster’s response to Pickles was this:
My belief is that the standard should not have rested with CPS regulations but rather with doing the right thing for women and girls. The crew should never have participated in promoting this patriarchy.
Who’s to say what is the “right thing” for women and girls? Those of us who were born and raised in western cultures often think our way is the best way. I think Americans, in particular, are guilty of trying to impose our mores on other cultures, thinking the standard way we do things is the way everyone should do them. But, if you look at other countries around the world, you realize that when it comes to oppressing females, the Duggars’ ways are actually pretty lenient! I mean, I haven’t heard of any of the Duggar girls being held down and having their clitorises cut off by their aunties, right?
And secondly, has this poster considered that by “not participating in promoting the patriarchy”, the Duggar insider would have aided in keeping all of this stuff hidden? It probably would have been much easier for Josh Duggar to keep abusing people if he hadn’t come from such a famous family. Moreover, television work was this person’s livelihood, and TV jobs are, presumably, not that plentiful. It’s easy for some random person on Facebook to condemn the Duggar Family TV show insider for not “stepping up” and “refusing to promote the patriarchy” when it’s not the rando’s paycheck at stake.
Besides… everyone who watched the Duggars on TV saw this stuff going on every time an episode aired. No, we didn’t see the unedited parts that the TV crew saw, but we saw enough of it to speak out about it, if we were so inclined. Most of us didn’t bother.
I remember back in 2008, when the FLDS sect at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas got raided. So many relatively “normal” people were glad to see it being raided, because they were absolutely sure the children in that sect were miserable and being abused. And, if I’m honest, I think a lot of the kids in that sect probably were experiencing what a lot of us would consider abuse. BUT… that lifestyle is what they knew, and their abusers were their family. When the children were eventually reunited with their mothers, there was no mistaking the joy on the children’s faces.
When you’re a child, you won’t necessarily see CPS workers as heroic when they yank you out of the only home you’ve ever known. Moreover, sometimes kids who are removed from abusive homes end up in foster homes that are as bad or even worse from where they came. Read up on the Turpin siblings’ hellish experiences with foster care for some verification on that. I’m not saying that calling CPS is never necessary or lifesaving for abused children, but foster care and government intervention are certainly not panaceas against preventing or stopping child abuse. Like it or not, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are the parents to that huge brood. We may see them as awful parents, but they’re still the only parents their children have.
This doesn’t mean that I support the Duggars’ way of doing things. I am absolutely sure there’s a legitimate hotbed of abuse in that family. I doubt that Josh is the only one who did pervy things, either. However, I do think it’s a lot to expect random people to intervene/be heroic, especially when they don’t have the whole story, haven’t been asked to intervene, and are relying on a paycheck. Because while it’s very noble to think that we all have our principles, when it really comes down to it, people have basic needs that have to be fulfilled. It’s hard to be tough when you realize that speaking up or speaking out could lead to unemployment.
My husband went to war with a man who was later outed and very publicly fired from the Army for abusing troops in Iraq. Bill was similarly abused by this man when they went to Iraq a couple of years prior. Bill didn’t say much to Army officials about what happened in that war zone because he wanted to stay employed and promotable, and he did not want to be labeled a complainer. If he had spoken about the abuse, maybe he could have prevented his former boss from abusing other troops. But, there’s also a good chance that he would have been punished for being vocal about the abuse, and his boss would have still gotten ahead. It’s easy for those who aren’t directly faced with a dilemma to say what they think should be done. It’s much harder to take those actions when it’s your ass on the line and you have other people depending on you.
I am a big believer in speaking out and taking action when it’s possible to safely do so. However, I am also a realist, and I am wise enough to know that speaking up and taking action isn’t always something that is easily done without severe reprisals. And, unfortunately, when you’re dealing with powerful narcissistic types like Jim Bob Duggar, Donald Trump, Bill’s “war buddy”, or even his ex wife (when the kids were minors), you find that doing the “right thing” is very often easier said than done.
So no, I don’t blame the Duggar TV show insider for not “refusing to promote the patriarchy” and “refusing to take action” on behalf of the Duggar daughters. That would have been a tall order that probably wouldn’t have ended with good results. But I am glad to see people like Jill, Jinger, and Amy Duggar standing up now, and speaking out against the abuses perpetrated in the name of “Christianity” and Bill Gothard’s IBLP cult.
I think being married to a man who attracts narcissists has made me more aware of what is at stake when a person confronts one. The bigger and more powerful they are, and the more money and prestige they have, the harder it is to confront them. And while it’s easy to armchair quarterback– I do it myself sometimes– the reality is, when it comes down to it, we all have to watch our own backs first. You can’t help someone else if you’re not wearing your own oxygen mask, so to speak. 😉
Hopefully, we won’t be needing any oxygen masks when we fly to Norway tomorrow. 😀
As I posted earlier… my blog may be less attended while we’re away, but I will bring my laptop and see what I can do. I hope you’ll wish us luck!
This morning, I read an article in the Washington Post about the father of one of the Marines who died last week in Afghanistan. The father, whose name is Mark Schmitz, was at Dover Air Force Base, waiting for his son’s remains to be repatriated. Schmitz’s son, Jared, was 20 years old when he perished. Schmitz was reportedly angry, and initially didn’t want to speak to Joe Biden. He didn’t vote for Biden, and he blames the president for the fact that his son died.
But then Mr. Schmitz changed his mind, and he and his ex wife did speak to President Biden, just days after losing Jared to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Schmitz said he “glared” hard at the president, so Biden paid more attention to Schmitz’s ex, speaking of his son, Beau, who died in 2015. I suspect that Biden might have thought that reminding the grieving family members that he’s lost a child, too, was his clumsy attempt at empathy.
Naturally, Mr. Schmitz didn’t want to talk about Beau Biden. He wanted to talk about Jared, who died much too young. And Schmitz is pissed off at Biden because his son is gone. He said to Mr. Biden, “Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12… And take some time to learn their stories. ”
According to Schmitz, Biden’s response was “I do know their stories.”
Schmitz did offer “kudos” to Biden for one thing. Biden pulled out a card that he carries in his breast pocket that shows the number of Americans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the end of the card, Biden had written “Plus 13.” Schmitz was apparently glad to see that Biden wasn’t totally full of it, even if his comments seemed “scripted and shallow”. Schmitz also recognized that the meeting must have been very hard for Joe Biden. Schmitz said:
“It had to be one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. You make some calls, here’s the aftereffect. It’s got to be difficult. I’m not saying it was easy at all. But you can’t run up and hug someone as if you had nothing to do with it. It’s not going to work that way when you’re commander in chief.”
Other people were a lot angrier at Biden. One person said she hoped he burned in Hell. Roice McCollum, the sister of Ryan McCollum, one of the fallen, said this to the Washington Post:
“He cannot possibly understand… My dad and I did not want to speak to him. You cannot kneel on our flag and pretend you care about our troops. You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry. This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands. The thousands of Afghans who will suffer and be tortured is a direct result of his incompetence.”
As I read this account of the “tough” meeting Biden had with the families of the mostly very young American servicemembers who died in Afghanistan, I couldn’t help but remember an incident from October 2017 involving Donald Trump. On October 4, 2017, there was a deadly ambush in Niger, and two weeks after the event, Donald Trump made phone calls to family members of the fallen Soldiers. One of the calls he made was to Myeshia Johnson, widow of La David Johnson. La David Johnson was one of four Army Soldiers who had died in the ambush.
Prior to making the phone call, Trump was advised by former Marine General John Kelly, who lost his own son in Afghanistan when the 29 year old stepped on a land mine. Kelly told Trump a story about how his best friend, Joe Dunford, was Kelly’s casualty officer, and said something along the lines of this:
Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war.
In my 2017 blog post about Trump’s interaction with La David Johnson’s family, I wrote:
It seems to me that if you are two guys in the military, brothers in arms, as it were, it would make sense to say something like what General Kelly’s friend and casualty officer said. People who serve in the military understand that there is risk when a war is going on. They can talk to each other about the business of war, because they have a concept of it. They understand the job; they’ve been through the training and indoctrination; and saying something like “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do…” makes sense. However, I don’t think the same thing is true for family members of the fallen.
In the course of Trump’s phone call intended to express condolences to Myeshia Johnson, he forgot La David Johnson’s name. He told Mrs. Johnson, who was pregnant at the time, that her husband “knew what he signed up for… but it hurts anyway.” And then Trump said, “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do…” If memory serves, Trump also repeatedly referred to La David Johnson as “your guy” to his grieving wife.
I don’t know why La David Johnson joined the Army, and I certainly don’t know what his wife knew about her husband’s motives for serving. Maybe he wanted to be a Soldier because of a sense of duty, or maybe he just wanted the money and benefits. Maybe it was a combination of factors that influenced him to join. But I am willing to bet that Johnson would have preferred to have been with his wife and children to being in Niger. Even if Johnson actually did prefer to be working in Niger, as a spouse, I sure wouldn’t want to hear that my husband preferred a war zone to being at home with me. I’ll bet Mrs. Johnson didn’t want to hear that, either.
When Mrs. Johnson later complained about how tone deaf and insensitive Trump’s phone call was, Trump didn’t apologize. Instead, he tweeted “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”
Meanwhile, Myeshia Johnson said that Trump’s phone call had made her feel worse. She said, “… I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn’t remember my husband’s name.”
As people condemned Trump’s graceless handling of the Niger ambush, Trump took the opportunity to throw shade at past presidents. He said, “If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls – a lot of them didn’t make calls.”
Now… I’m not saying that the families of the fallen who met with Joe Biden are wrong to be angry. I’m sure that a lot of them didn’t vote for Mr. Biden, and they think Donald Trump would have handled leaving Afghanistan better. They see Biden as “weak”. He has a very different personality than Trump has. He doesn’t come across with as much charisma, force, or bluster. They perceive Biden’s less flashy personality as less effective, and they blame Biden for “fucking up” the exit from Afghanistan as he ended America’s longest war.
Personally, I am shocked that only 13 Americans have been lost, so far, in the departure from Afghanistan. I think if Trump had been in charge, the fallout would have been much worse. Moreover, I am impressed by the number of people who were successfully evacuated from Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, over 124,000 people have left Afghanistan alive. Yes, we did lose 13 Americans last week, and that’s a terrible thing. And there’s nothing anyone can say or do to make the families of those who died feel better. But, I do think Mr. Biden’s attempt at offering condolences was much better than Trump’s attempts to comfort the bereaved.
Some people seem to have forgotten that Donald Trump has historically had no empathy for other people’s pain and suffering. I remember what he said about the late John McCain, who was captured and tortured in Vietnam. Donald Trump, who never put on a uniform because of his “bone spurs”, called John McCain a “fucking loser”. Trump also said of McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Trump also memorably referred to members of the military as “losers and suckers”, having canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018. At the time, Trump falsely claimed rainy conditions had made it impossible for the helicopter to fly, and the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. The truth is that Trump was worried about his hair getting mussed in the rain, and he didn’t think honoring the American war dead was important enough to risk messing up his hair. According to an article written by Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic:
In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
As I read about people who are angry at President Biden because 13 Americans died at an airport suicide attack in Kabul, then they criticize Biden’s attempts to express condolences and apologize, I can’t help but wonder how they would have reacted to Trump in the same situation. People died during the Trump administration, too. I wonder if Trump would have met personally with those family members, having remembered each and every servicemember’s name and story. I wonder if he would have pulled out a card with the names of the fallen written down. I also wonder if there would have been more dead servicemembers sent home.
The United States has been engaged with Afghanistan for 20 years. A lot of money, time, and talent has been wasted on a country whose people are still living in a different era. It was time for the conflict to end. I don’t think there was a way to win in this situation. It was bound to be messy.
Many people, safe at home, are blaming Biden. Some are also blaming military leaders, claiming that they should have recognized the threats and addressed them. I guess it’s only natural to try to second guess what people do and the decisions they make in a war zone. I just wonder if people ever stop and think about it longer than a minute.
My husband spent thirty years in the Army. He never went to Afghanistan, but he did go to Iraq. Bill never talks about what should have been done in Afghanistan, in spite of his experience. He can’t speak to what should have been done, because he wasn’t there. Most of the people who are criticizing the president and the military don’t have a concept of what was going on in Afghanistan, beyond what was in the news.
I get that the families of the fallen are grief stricken. I understand that many of them preferred Trump to Biden, and this is a great opportunity for them to cement their hatred of Biden. But, as the wife and daughter of military veterans, I can’t help but notice the difference between Biden’s style of presidential condolences and Trump’s. I think I would much prefer Biden’s clumsy attempts to comfort– talking about his son, Beau, and compulsively looking at his dead son Beau’s watch– to Trump’s tone deaf attempts– forgetting the names of the fallen, bickering with widows on Twitter, and falsely claiming that he cares more than other presidents did in similar circumstances.
In my view, Donald Trump would not have done any of this better. It probably would have been an even bigger fiasco. More people would have died, and fewer would have been evacuated. And when it came time to comfort the grieving, history shows that Trump would have probably really fucked things up even more.
I have never served in the military myself, but I have been surrounded by veterans my whole life. One thing I’ve learned is that everyone who serves knows that there’s a chance they could be killed. That’s something that comes with the territory of military service. But, if you think about it, there’s a risk in everything we do. Hell, nowadays, just breathing can get you killed.
I’m glad that the people who met with Joe Biden had the chance to look him in the eye, speak to him, accept hugs from him, or even tell him they hope he rots in Hell. Under Trump’s watch, they would have probably just gotten a phone call at the very most, with glib cliches about “knowing what they were getting into” and “dying doing exactly what they wanted to do…” coupled with forgotten names, awkward stammering, and no chance to respond.
Joe Biden didn’t kill those people who died in Afghanistan last week. They were killed by a terrorist. The young man who strapped 25 pounds to explosives to himself, went to the gate, and blew himself up for his god is the one who did the killing and maiming. If anyone should be blamed for those senseless deaths, it’s that guy, and people like him. The last military plane left Afghanistan this morning. Thank God for that. I hope we don’t ever go back. I congratulate Joe Biden for finally ending our 20 year war with Afghanistan… and for having the courage, humility, and decency to meet with the people who are grieving the tragic loss of their family members.
There’s a stark contrast in Biden’s sense of duty compared to Trump’s… Again, from my blog post from 2017, regarding La David Johnson’s death:
La David Johnson was laid to rest yesterday. His devastated widow was there with the children and Sergeant Johnson’s other loved ones. Mrs. Johnson kissed her husband’s casket goodbye as she clutched two folded American flags.
Trump, by contrast, was playing golf, as usual… and, ever classy, he posted on social media as mourners were preparing for the funeral…
Think about it.
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