Here’s a follow up post to the one I wrote about General Nadja West. This post was written August 6, 2016 and appears here as/is.
It never ceases to amaze me how you can go from learning about one thing to another. Sometimes, it feels a little like digging for gold. I’ll start reading something, learn an interesting tidbit, then study the tidbit more until it leads to an even bigger and more interesting story. That’s what happened to me yesterday right after I posted about how military folks often end up marrying, dating, and/or mating out of their own cultures.
Yesterday, I was inspired to write a post about LTG Nadja West based on a short news article I read about her. Before yesterday, I had never heard of LTG West. I’ll be honest. The actual article about her wasn’t that interesting, other than the fact that she’s a very high ranking black woman in the Army who happened to be speaking at an Army post where I spent a lot of time when I was growing up. What initially intrigued me was seeing that she’s clearly a product of a collaboration between a German woman and a black man. Since I live in Germany, I’ve seen that phenomenon many times and it really fascinates me.
I know I wrote about LTG West yesterday, but I wrote my post before I learned more about her story through an obituary for her adoptive mother, Mabel Treadwell Grammer, who died in June 2002. In 2002, LTG West was a Lieutenant Colonel, just one rank higher than Bill was at the time. He would be promoted the following year for the last time, and LTG West would continue to climb to the stratospheric rank she’s currently holding.
LTG West’s mother, Mabel Grammer, was an incredible woman. She graduated from Ohio State University and became an activist for civil rights. She was also a journalist. As a young woman, she fought the War Department in an effort to desegregate Arlington National Cemetery. She interviewed Thurgood Marshall and stayed at the then whites only Waldorf Astoria Hotel. She was a mover and a shaker. Clearly, Mabel Grammer was a woman who was a go getter.
In 1950, Mabel Treadwell Grammer married her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Oscar George Grammer Sr. She then became an “Army wife”, like I was, and also like me, was unable to have children of her own. Like so many other Army wives, she eventually moved to Germany. Like so many other Army wives, she ended up with way too much time on her hands.
Mabel Grammer used her time to explore Europe. During her travels, Mrs. Grammer visited the shrine at Lourdes in France. According to Mrs. Grammer’s obituary and LTG West, Mabel Grammer suddenly had a “vision” of sorts. She realized that she had much to offer others. She decided to devote her time and energy to helping other people instead of focusing only on herself.
Mrs. Grammer went back to Germany and began to visit orphanages, where she became acquainted with “brown babies”. Known in Germany as “Mischlingskinder“, these were babies who were born to German women and black American servicemen. Their German mothers couldn’t or wouldn’t keep them, so they were given up to orphanages, where they languished. These children weren’t adopted by German families because they were mixed race. Many thousands of these so-called “brown babies” were born in Germany during and after World War II.
In post war Germany, it was difficult for for Soldiers to marry the German women they had been dating. The Soldiers needed permission from their commanding officers and the women had to jump through many hoops to gain approval. Complicating matters was the fact that in those days, interracial dating was extremely taboo in both Germany and the United States. In fact, marriage between races wasn’t fully legalized in the United States until 1967 and even then, it remained taboo for many years. In Nazi Germany, interracial marriage was also forbidden. In essence, the babies born to these interracial unions were abandoned by two “super powers”.
Mr. and Mrs. Grammer decided to take in some of the brown babies they met in orphanages across Germany. Their first adopted child was a ten year old boy. That boy had friends at the orphanage, who also found a home with the Grammers. The nuns who ran the orphanages asked them to take more; they went on to adopt eleven more children, including one son who had already been adopted but was returned because he had leukemia. That child, named Edward, died in 1955 when he was nine years old. The last child the Grammers took in was Nadja, who was just eight or nine months old in 1962 when she was adopted from a German orphanage. She grew up to be a physician, the highest ranking black woman in the Army, and the highest ranking woman to ever graduate from the United States Military Academy.
As if this story wasn’t enough, I learned yesterday through several sources that Mabel Grammer went on to arrange for five hundred “brown babies” to be adopted by black families in the United States. Since this was occurring during the 1950s and 60s, much of the work to coordinate the adoptions had to be done by mail. Mrs. Grammer did not use any help from social services, although according to her obituary, Scandinavian Airlines did help fly some of the orphans to the United States.
I read in another source that although Mrs. Grammer’s incredible efforts were potentially lifesaving for many of the children, they weren’t without controversy. The babies were being sent to families who didn’t undergo any background checks. Mrs. Grammer didn’t meet the people who were taking in the brown babies and there were no follow up home visits to make sure the babies were being cared for properly. Some of the children ended up in abusive situations. Still, through sheer determination, Mrs. Grammer continued her work and dramatically changed lives for hundreds of people who would have otherwise been brought up in orphanages. In 1968, Mabel and Oscar Grammer received a humanitarian award from Pope Paul IX, which was presented to them at Fort Myer by one of the pope’s representatives.
Mrs. Grammer encouraged her own adopted children to forgive their parents for giving them up. She also encouraged the children to seek out their biological parents. She explained to her children that they should be grateful to their parents for giving them life and realize that they couldn’t know what difficult choices their mothers faced.
According to Mrs. Grammer’s obituary, every one of the eleven Grammer children who survived until adulthood went on to make something good of themselves. Quite a few of them went on to serve in the Armed Forces. LTG West has said that several of her sisters were “WACs”; that is, they served in the Women’s Army Corps. Another sister was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy.
I am still amazed that I found out about this story by reading a simple article in the Daily Press about Mabel and Oscar Grammer’s youngest daughter, LTG Nadja West, and being curious about where she came from. I’ll have to do some more reading about brown babies.
Since I’ve found out more about the “brown baby” phenomenon, I see the documentary is being sold through the BRATS Our Journey Home Web site. I may have to spend some of my husband’s hard earned cash on a couple of new documentaries this weekend.
First thing’s first. I hate the term “dependa”. Although many people use the word as a shortened version of the government/military term, “dependent”, it’s actually a shortened version of an insult. At some point, years ago, some genius started referring to a certain type of military wife as a “dependapotamus” or “dependasaurus”, depending on the audience. Eventually, the terms “dependapotamus” or “dependasaurus” got shortened to “dependa”. And now, people use it all the time, sometimes even to define themselves.
Last night, I read an article in The New York Times about people who are getting married and being platonic. They see marriage as a business idea, rather than a romantic one. They find someone they can trust and with whom they can share marital benefits. The person may be more of a best friend than a mate.
I thought the article was very interesting and, for some people, the idea of marrying someone for practical purposes is useful. Most people need companionship and it’s helpful to have someone share the load in terms of some of life’s bigger challenges. But then I went into the comment section and noticed one woman had mentioned people in the military and how the idea of a platonic marriage could be a boon for collecting “dependa” benefits.
I will admit, it was later in the evening and I was emboldened by evening libations, but I commented that people who disrespectfully refer to military family members/spouses as “dependas” are usually not worth listening to for long. The woman who wrote that “laughed” at me, then wrote that she is a “dependa” herself.
My response was something along the lines of, “Good for you. Maybe it’s time you stopped thinking of yourself in such a derogatory way and realized that you have value in and of yourself, rather than as just your spouse’s ‘dependent’.”
And although she “laughed” again, as did someone else, I decided not to read any other responses. I have learned my lesson with that type of person. It’s a beautiful Sunday, and I have better things to do… like pluck out and shape my own pubic hairs. 😉 I know that some people will defend their “right” to claim the term “dependa” with great vigor, much like some people consistently vote against their own interests. My experience comes from years of observation and fruitless discussions with people who love using degrading labels like “dependa” and its more offensive cousins, “dependapotamus” and “dependasaurus”.
Eight years ago, I fell into a very contentious argument on the WTF Army Moments! Facebook page. Someone had posted a photo that said FRG (family readiness group) spouses shouldn’t try to “wear their spouse’s rank”. I completely agree with that, by the way. Spouses who aren’t themselves in the military should not try to claim their spouse’s rank and bully other spouses. Surprisingly enough, there are some people who do that. It’s offensive, tacky, and wrong.
But then I made the mistake of commenting that I think the term “dependents” is demeaning and should be phased out. Well… the negative response I got was nothing short of astonishing! You would have thought I had insulted someone’s mother or something. The group owner demanded to know why I thought the term “dependents” was demeaning. I responded it’s because spouses are competent adults, and in most marriages, adults are supposed to depend on each other. Plenty of military spouses have careers of their own and are perfectly capable of supporting themselves. While it’s true that I, personally, do depend on my husband for some things, he depends on me for things, too. Our relationship is mutually beneficial. And as an educated woman who is fully capable, I don’t think it’s right that capable adults are being called “dependents” by the military.
Shit went down after that. I got accused of trying to “lord” my education over the women in the group. There was a tidal wave of insults, sarcasm, profanity, and sweeping assumptions about my character and life experiences. First, I was told that my education and experience mean nothing. That I’m the same as everyone else (Gosh, I sure hope not, judging by the moronic responses of some of them). Next, I was accused of being, “gasp”, a liberal (horrors)! When I explained that I don’t define myself as conservative or liberal and really couldn’t see where my politics come into this conversation, I was accused of not being experienced about military life.
The fact that I get health insurance from the government was repeatedly brought up as to why I’m a “dependent”. That’s funny. For over two years after I got married, I paid for my own health insurance. I reluctantly gave it up when it became clear that the constant moving we’d be doing would make hanging on to it difficult and needlessly expensive. When I explained that I’ve been around military folks my whole life, first as an Air Force brat and then as an Army wife, the group owner claimed that I would never see life as it really is in the military because I’m “just a dependent”. At that point, I told the rabid person who kept attacking me that she needed to make up her mind. I mean, am I “just like every other military spouse” regardless of my education or am I someone hopelessly lost in an “ivory tower” and clueless about military life? Someone else added that the term “dependent” is a “fucking IRS term”. It is, but the IRS does not automatically consider spouses dependents, so that point was moot.
I should add that this isn’t an earth shattering issue for me. I know it will never change in my lifetime, and I’m not going to be sending any letters to Joe Biden or Congress, or anything like that. I just think the mindset that all spouses are “dependents” is antiquated, demoralizing, and yes, kind of demeaning. Particularly since it’s also devolved into the “dependa” insult. I don’t understand why people would laugh at me or begrudge me for thinking that. Why can’t we just respect someone’s differing opinion without immediately resorting to insults and character assassinations?
The woman I encountered last night openly calls herself a “dependa”. She may have a very healthy self-esteem. She probably hasn’t given the term much thought. But I have thought about it a lot over the years, mainly because I have the time and energy to do so. When a military wife calls herself a “dependa”, she’s basically lumping herself in with a class of women who are assumed to be fat, uneducated, fertile slobs who are perpetually pregnant, sit on their asses all day, eat bon bons, watch daytime TV, and blow their husband’s paychecks on makeup or Coach bags. They are rumored to have married simply for Tricare benefits and have a tendency to try to “wear their husband’s rank”. And again– it’s almost always women/wives who are called “dependas”, even though many female servicemembers are married to men.
In all my years of living around military folks– first as a “brat” (another term that has come under fire, although not one I have an issue with, personally) and then as a “spouse”– I have run into very few true examples of the “dependa” stereotype. A lot of the women who marry into the military lifestyle are very strong, capable, independent, creative and smart people. Quite a few have been to college or even graduate school, and some– gasp– even have good jobs while they raise children! And then there are also wives who don’t work for money, but do a lot of volunteer work, or homeschool their children… or whatever. How they spend their time or resources is really no one else’s business, anyway, is it? That’s between the married couple, not some random person observing them at AAFES or the commissary.
There are several social media groups that are dedicated to shaming and making fun of so-called “dependas”. While it may seem like good, clean fun to take part in these groups, the fact is, sometimes they do things that are pretty questionable and have real consequences for others. For example, a few years ago, I read an article about a military wife whose Facebook photos were ripped off from her personal page and shared in a Facebook group, where perfect strangers proceeded to make fun of them. I seem to remember in one situation, a plus sized wife was wearing a bikini and dared to post it on her Facebook page. That bikini pic ended up on Dear Dependa, where people were having a field day laughing about them. In another situation, a family’s photos were stolen and posted, where they were ridiculed. Some of the pictures included children.
It later came to light that the person who had stolen the photos was an Army colonel and he had to be asked and later threatened with legal action to take down the photos. Here he was– a man entrusted to lead troops, serve as an example to younger, less experienced servicemembers, and make sure missions are accomplished– and he’s hunting the personal Facebook pages of military spouses, copying photos that aren’t his, and sharing them to Facebook groups, where they can be ridiculed. No wonder so many civilians think the military is full of braindead, uneducated thugs who get off on killing people. That’s not the actual case, by the way… I know plenty of smart, decent people in the military. But guys like that colonel, who engage in online bullying and harassment, don’t do a lot for the military’s image. How can a person like that be entrusted to be a good leader, responsible for expensive equipment and the lives of so many people?
While I know I won’t change anything by writing this post about why I think the term “dependent” and its derogatory bastardizations “dependapotamus”, “dependasaurus”, and “dependa” ought to go, I do think it’s sad that some people think it’s okay to refer to themselves in that way. I doubt many people think about it for long. I doubt the woman I ran into last night would have liked it if I had said something like, “So basically, you think of yourself as just a fat, unemployed, lazy, perpetually pregnant woman who leeches off her husband’s paycheck? Kudos to you for being able to read, at least.” Because, when she refers to herself as a “dependa”, she’s basically saying that the people who make fun of “dependas” should think of her in that way. Like it or not, “dependa” is a shortened version of insulting terms. It’s kind of like referring to oneself as a “bitch” or a “bastard” or something worse.
I want to ask some of these people what a so-called “dependa” could do to make themselves respectable… Would they qualify as fellow human beings worthy of a modicum of regard if they lost some weight and got jobs at AAFES? What about someone like me? I am now a retiree’s wife. Many would say I’m fat. I don’t have a regularly paying job, but I write blogs and earn some money from that endeavor. Am I worthy of respect? Or would they call me a “dependa” simply because of my lifestyle?
Ah, no matter. I know I am worthy of respect. Those who don’t want to give it to me aren’t worth the worry. And those who disrespect themselves by calling themselves “dependa” probably aren’t worth the worry, either. Particularly, when they don’t realize that they’re making things harder for themselves by seeing themselves in that way and emboldening bullies in the military community.
It IS true in my case that people who regularly use that term are not worth listening to for more than a minute. They’re usually the type of people who can’t stand smart, accomplished, intelligent, and articulate women, and they would just prefer it if anyone who doesn’t have a penis just shuts up and does what she’s told. I’m serious. There are some truly vile, misogynistic, abusive people in the military culture, and they don’t care about anyone or anything but themselves, despite the military “esprit de corps” ethos they are supposed to follow. They may seem alright on the surface, but once you spend any time talking to them, you find out they have little to no regard for anyone– particularly women.
And so, when a woman calls herself a “dependa” and actually defends her “right” to refer to herself in such a way, all I can do is shake my head in dismay. I just think it’s sad. Surely, she’s better than the “dependa” stereotype. Or, I would hope so… I would at least hope that, deep down, she thought of herself in kinder, more flattering terms. I would really hope she has more self-respect. The vast majority of military wives truly are worthy of, at the very least, self-respect and dignity. If you don’t have respect for yourself, it’s hard to ask others to have respect for you. Just something to think about… especially if you’re a military wife reading today’s post.
This morning, as my eyes were opening to another Friday, I checked my Facebook notifications. I noticed I got a comment from someone I don’t know. It was in response to a comment I made five days ago on a conservative friend’s meme.
I usually try not to comment too much on other people’s political posts. The reason why I have that policy is because I’ve found that I don’t enjoy getting sucked into arguments with people I don’t know. I also think it’s kind of rude to try to impress my opposing views on someone else’s page. I’d rather do that on my own page or on my blog. But I couldn’t help myself… because not only did I disagree with the meme, I also got triggered by poor spelling.
My response to this meme was “*your… and many people hate him for good reason.” When my friend wrote that she hadn’t written the meme and knows the difference between “you’re” and “your”, I explained that one of my pet peeves is when something is supposedly shared as “wisdom”, but isn’t even properly written. Ordinarily, I do scroll past, but sometimes I slip.
I think this particular post was about Trump, although this same friend also posted how disgusted she is that people are “celebrating” Rush Limbaugh’s death. That post has, at this writing, swelled to over 119 comments, with some people trying to justify their negative opinions and feelings, and others shaming them for having and expressing them. A healthy smattering of “I wasn’t his biggest fan, but…” comments were also included.
This morning, I noticed the comment I made on the above post five days ago got a response from some confrontational guy I don’t know. He wrote:
Hate who and what good reason?
And my response was, “You should have asked me five days ago. “
I don’t like it when people revive stuff that died ages ago. It’s like having a conversation with someone and, a few days later, having some uninvolved stranger ask me about it. I also don’t like it when some stranger confronts me for my response to a friend. Dude, I wasn’t talking to you, and if you wanted to address my thoughts on Mr. Trump, you should have done it before the discussion effectively ended days ago.
I think this guy was just feeling energized and wanted to stir up some shit. My hunch was confirmed when I noticed his comments on the aforementioned Limbaugh thread. I did not comment on that thread myself, but I can see that it generated a lot of controversy. Most of the comments were made by women, and most of the women are quite intelligent and articulate. Naturally, intelligent and articulate comments from women sometimes invite dumb commentary from mansplaining men. One lady wrote this:
I adore you, but I don’t think it’s fair to condemn people that hate Rush and celebrate his death. This is a man who celebrated the death of gay people from AIDS on air with whistles etc. That is just one example of his heinous behaviour. Some people are entitled to their hatred of him and that is a good and healthy thing. My brother in law is gay and men like Rush have attacked him intending to cause harm. So no pity, no sorrow or sympathy for him and his family. He had no sympathy for other people’s families when he mocked and celebrated their deaths. Everyone has a story and we shouldn’t judge before we know it.
The same guy who confronted me about my comment had this to say to the woman who defended those who disliked Rush Limbaugh and are glad he’s dead. He wrote:
Have we become so polarizes that we no longer offer grace to those who repent publicly. He apologized and said that that was “the most regretful thing Ive ever done. “He was on radio waves 3 hours a day for 30 years. Of course, he, like anyone else, is going to say something regretful. Can you honestly say that you didn’t say something 20-30 years ago that today would be considered hateful? More than that, have you ever been offered the gift of forgiveness? Maybe I’ve got you all wrong. Maybe you are the shining jewel of perfection in this sea of scum and villany in the world…idk..maybe you’ve never had to have been forgiven. But if you have, maybe, for the sake of unity, stop celebrating the death of human or promoting it. Hatred only produces more hatred.
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. There is a HUGE difference between saying something regrettable once or twice 30 years ago, and saying regrettable things EVERY DAY for over 30 years. Apologies are all well and good, but they are absolutely meaningless if the bad behavior continues. I don’t think Rush Limbaugh ever seriously repented. He still said a lot of really offensive and fucked up shit that hurt people. As someone who clearly honors the “good book”, the dude who was shaming those who were cheering about Rush’s death might want to remember that age old proverb from the Bible. You reap what you sow.
Personally, I didn’t follow Rush Limbaugh. I remember hearing his program at my granny’s house and my father watching his show on TV in the 1990s. I could barely stand to listen to him, so I didn’t pay attention to, and consequently wasn’t affected by, the more inflammatory things he said. Other people did listen, and a lot of them didn’t like what they heard. They were hurt and offended by Rush Limbaugh. Conversely, some people loved what Rush said, and are genuinely sad that his life is finished.
I think both groups have the right to have and express their opinions. I’d want and expect people to respect my right to have and state my own opinions. I can’t, in good conscience, want and expect that for myself and not for others. I can understand why many people legitimately hated Limbaugh and are glad he’s dead. I can also understand why others loved what he had to say, even if I disagree.
In yesterday’s post, I wrote that I am not in any of the groups Rush openly mocked. One of my readers corrected me, saying that as a woman, I am in a group Rush mocked. She says he was a misogynist. She’s probably right about that, but when I made that comment, I meant that I’m not in any of the groups that Rush had a special habit of tormenting, like homosexuals and people of color. But then, I do call myself the “overeducated housewife”, and I realize that Rush probably would have ridiculed me for that. Lots of people do. In yesterday’s post, I included a video of Rush insulting a woman he considered “overeducated” as opposed to “intelligent”. I disagree with Rush Limbaugh that the woman wasn’t intelligent, as well as educated, but kudos to him for sort of understanding the term “overeducated” as I view it.
I have gotten LOTS of shit from people about the name of my blog, especially in the military community. Many people in the military community like to laugh at those they think of as “butthurt”, although they don’t seem to like it so much when they get labeled and laughed at the same way. They also like to make fun of anyone who doesn’t fit the norm. God forbid you’re an intelligent woman who went to graduate school and dared to marry a man in the military. The people who are offended by my blog’s title probably hate people like me even more than they hate so-called “dependas“.
Smart women can be most threatening to men in the military culture because they’re not as easily controlled or impressed by them. And despite their bravado and the hot air they spew about their service, I have found that underneath that exterior, a lot of them are closed-minded cowards. For instance, instead of actually talking to me and finding out the origin of my blog’s name, these narrow minded folks will simply make assumptions about the kind of person they think I am.
They’ll assume I’m arrogant and disdainful, looking down on them for not going to college. They will hate me for existing and having a voice. They have no problem trying to put me in my place, sometimes aggressively, and with hateful, misogynistic language like Rush Limbaugh’s. And then, when I respond in a way that ends up embarrassing or humiliating them, many of them do, indeed, get quite “butthurt” about it. I’ve been blocked by them so many times! It’s not just the men, though. Some of the women hate me, too. Not only do I have three degrees and work as a “housewife” (horrors), but I also never managed to have any children! I’m also fat, not particularly pretty, probably a lousy lay, and I don’t put out very often. So what the hell good am I? (/facetious)
The people who have given me a hard time about the name of my blog are mostly folks who haven’t stopped to wonder why anyone would call themselves “overeducated”. For those who do wonder about that, here’s an explanation of why I titled my blog “The Overeducated Housewife”. I am a housewife. I have three college degrees. I don’t need three college degrees to do what I do every day. I am literally overeducated for my lot in life.
People have pointed out to me that it’s “impossible” to be overeducated. It may surprise them to know that, in theory, I agree with them. The name of my blog wasn’t meant to be taken so seriously or literally. And I never thought it might cause annoyance or offense, because when I first started writing it, I didn’t share it with others. The title was meant to be taken tongue in cheek, and was just something I came up with one day. I’m not the first or even the only person to call a blog “the overeducated housewife”, either. However, I probably am the most persistent and prolific one.
I was cleaning the toilets one day in March 2010. We were living in Georgia, and my husband was still on active duty. We had only just moved to Georgia, having come from Germany, and I knew we would soon be moving again, as Fort McPherson was going to be closing. I knew our time at the next installation, which turned out to be Fort Bragg, would also be short. So there was really no reason to try to get my career launched, because I knew I might spend months job hunting, only to have to move yet again.
As I squirted blue toilet detergent into the commode and commenced to cleaning and disinfecting, it occurred to me that I’d spent seven years in college, fully expecting to launch a paying career. Then I fell in love with a soldier, married him, and commenced to moving multiple times. It would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for me to launch a career in the field I trained for in graduate school and still be with my husband, so I eventually decided to just be a housewife. Then I started writing, which is what I’d wanted to do in the first place. I don’t make a lot of money doing what I do, and some perspective challenged people would say I don’t really have a job or even a “purpose”. But it’s all worked out fine, even if it’s not what I planned for myself.
If I had known that I would be vacuuming and scrubbing toilets instead of being a public health social worker, I certainly would not have gone to graduate school. Not that I regret the experience, mind you. I learned a lot, proved to myself that I could do it, and had some truly excellent experiences. But I would have preferred to save the money. It seems like I wasted a lot of time on something that didn’t come to fruition in the way I hoped it would. On the other hand, I can’t truthfully say that I don’t use that education. So maybe it wasn’t such a waste.
I think the guy who called me out and took another one of our mutual Facebook friend’s friends to task is a bit “perspective challenged”. It’s obvious that he’s one of the people who liked Rush Limbaugh’s messages. Or, even if he wasn’t a Rush Limbaugh fan, he feels compelled to check and correct the thoughts, opinions, and behaviors of other people. He’s obviously uncomfortable letting people be who they are. I wonder why that is.
It may be time to close this post, as I’ve pontificated quite a bit already. However, in the interest of annoying those who don’t like that I get “hung up” on comments and like to criticize me for that, I’m going to relay another story. I hope you’ll bear with me, even though this part probably warrants a new post.
This morning in my Facebook memories, I noticed a post that got quite contentious. It was from seven years ago, when Bill and I lived in Texas. He was just a few months from retirement and we were about to experience one of the worst summers of our lives before we finally moved back to Germany. At that time, I was still kind of fixated on Mormonism and resentful of people who felt it was their duty to “correct” other people’s morals.
I had shared an article from the Salt Lake Tribune about a woman named Judy Cox. She was in the news because she’d been shopping with her 18 year old son at the University Mall in Orem, Utah, when she noticed some t-shirts on display at a store called PacSun. Cox didn’t like the t-shirts. She found them “indecent” and akin to pornography. So she complained to the store manager, requesting that they be removed from the window display. The manager told Mrs. Cox that the shirts couldn’t be removed without approval from the corporate office. So Cox decided that she would take matters into her own hands. She bought every single t-shirt, spending about $567. She vowed that she would eventually return them at the end of the store’s 60-day return period.
The photo that accompanied the news article was pretty funny. Judy Cox wore an expression of utter disgust. She looked like someone had just taken a dump in her living room or something. I thought it was funny, so I proceeded to make fun of Judy Cox’s photo. I will admit, it wasn’t particularly mature behavior on my part, but I have never claimed to be a super mature person, especially on social media. A few others joined in and we enjoyed some laughs.
Well… it wasn’t long before we felt the wrath of Papa Smurf. His name wasn’t really Papa Smurf. I just called him that because a lot of us knew him from Epinions.com and he often acted like he wanted to be everybody’s daddy and the voice of reason. If you’ve read my blogs for any length of time, you might know that I disdain “overly helpful voice of reason” types. I may act like an adolescent sometimes, but I already have a mom and dad and I’m 48 fucking years old. If I’m not grown up yet, it’s probably not gonna happen.
Anyway, Papa Smurf, who was visiting my page, wrote this:
Talk about teen kids bullying on a web site. Some of you need to look at yourselves. Just because this woman took an action you may not believe in, doesn’t mean you need to disrespect her in personal ways. Just sayin’.
Horrors! I just got upbraided by Papa Smurf. I wasn’t impressed, so I posted “Thanks for the lecture.”
A couple of other people chimed in, rejecting Papa Smurf’s self-righteous discipline. One person, who had insinuated that Cox had a stick up her ass, wrote “You mean like the sharp pointy stick? I confess I don’t know for a fact that she has one.”
Papa Smurf came back, still a bit butthurt, since his attempt to check us hooligans hadn’t worked and we weren’t suitably chastened. He wrote:
You mean about disrespecting this woman in many ways because she has a different mindset than many of you. No, I don’t believe the ends justifies the meanness. I could respect those who would express why they differ in views in regard to her actions but this petty vindictiveness shows a dark side to our supposed new and enlightened world.
Incidentally, Papa Smurf is a card carrying Trumper and probably mourns Rush Limbaugh. He’s no longer a “friend”, so I don’t know if he is or isn’t a Limbaugh fan. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if he is upset that Rush died and people are dancing in the streets about it.
I wrote this in response to Papa Smurf:
I’m sure she is a very nice lady when she’s not scowling over piles of t-shirts that she claims are indecent. In the above photo, she genuinely looks like a barrel of laughs. Frankly, all she’s done is draw more attention to the product she seeks to have banned which kind of defeats her stated goals. I don’t see what is respectable about that. I also tend to be disrespectful toward people who presume to tell other adults what is and isn’t appropriate. It’s her choice to waste her money if she wants to, but I don’t have to respect her for it.
And Papa Smurf wrote, “Please spare me. Be well.” (ugh… where’s my violin?)
You would think this would be the end of the shamefest, right? But it wasn’t. Although he kept saying he was leaving, he continued to read and respond to the comments. One person eventually called Papa Smurf out for bullying us with his overbearing shaming and lecturing. Not willing to honor his comment that he’d be taking his leave, Papa Smurf wrote:
…if you read the article you would know she had no plans to keep the merchandise. Upset? You ask. I suppose reading she needs to get laid. Needs beers. Has a stick supporting her and all just didn’t sit right. As you were. Enjoy yourselves. I spoke my mind and now I’m atta here.
(actually, I didn’t say she needed beers… I said she’s a “case”– as in, one needs a case of beer to wake up next to her every morning… I suspect Papa Smurf is also a “case”.)
My friend hilariously quipped, “Aw, c’mon–please *stick* around. “
And Papa Smurf wrote, “I see you fidget to finally read the article. Again bye to all .” (huh?)
I tried to send him off with this… “Have fun riding your moral high horse off into the sunset.”
Another commenter wrote she thought it was funny that Papa Smurf got “chased off”. Papa Smurf didn’t like that, either, so he wrote rather maudlinly:
Chased off? Hardly. I just know I don’t belong at the “cool” table. (yeah, I’d say so…)
Then someone else attempted to validate Papa Smurf’s concerns about how “adolescent” we were being about this subject. Papa Smurf appreciated that, so he wrote this:
Your word, “adolescent,” is definitely a better discription. My point and yours seem to agree in that though we may disagree with someone, there’s no need to revert to “adolescents.” Cheap personal shots to me is disrespectful, doesn’t strengthen an argument and adds to divisiveness. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts in a clear thoughtful manner. (He’s thanking her for “stopping by” on my page? Does he go to other people’s homes and thank random visitors for “stopping by? What is he, a sovereign citizen?)
Ooh! A treat for the commenter who was giving Papa Smurf some credence! But it didn’t last long, because I finally got completely fed up and wrote this comment, which effectively shut down the tit for tat mansplaining bullshit:
Oh for God’s sake. I confess I often act like an adolescent and am generally not the most polite person in the world. Anyone who knows me well, already knows this about me. This is my Facebook page, though, and I feel free to post whatever I want on it and make whatever snarky comments I want to make. If you have a problem with that, hit the unfriend button. I guarantee that much worse things about this woman have been said and written elsewhere. As a general rule, I don’t go on other people’s pages and leave them self-righteous comments about the things they post. As rude as my comments may have been, I think publicly shaming someone on Facebook is also very rude.
Seriously… it started out as harmless funny banter about a woman’s over the top reaction to t-shirts that she thought were obscene. Judy Cox took it upon herself for decide for everyone else what is or is not morally acceptable. Who appointed her judge and jury of what is appropriate in fashion merchandising? While she was within her rights to buy up all the t-shirts, I take exception to her attitude that she needs to be the morality police for everyone else. It looks like she fully cooperated with being in the news, too. She’s probably the one who called the media, and it’s obvious that she willingly posed for the above photograph, complete with disgusted scowl. Moreover, her action was futile, because PacSun doesn’t care why she bought the shirts. They care that they got her money, and they no doubt sent a new shipment of shirts to the Orem store. And even if she did return them, all she really did was give them free advertising and make herself look like an uptight busybody. So yes, it was stupid on her part, and her “church lady” fart expression does make me think she badly needs to get laid. But then, I probably need to get laid, too.
Either way, no one wants or needs some random guy to come along to lecture everyone about their thoughts and opinions. Save that crap for your (minor) kids. Papa Smurf has much in common with the guy up post who was appealing to our sense of shame about Rush Limbaugh’s death. You may find it vulgar and disgusting to laugh at people, particularly those who have died. I often feel that way myself. But when it comes down to it, especially if you’re a religious person, your opinions about me are none of my business. God is the ultimate judge. I am not a particularly religious person anyway. Moreover, I guess it’s alright if you think I’m an asshole. I can’t help what you think. You have the right to your opinions, too. Please respect my right to my opinions and spare me the confrontations. I’d rather have a pap smear than be constructively criticized by some random guy who thinks I should be ashamed of myself. My days of tolerating that from anyone are OVER.
You’ve already lost the argument, as far as I’m concerned.
A couple of days ago, when riots were happening in Washington, D.C., a friend of mine named Chris posted this comment on Facebook.
From what I am seeing, President Trump has incited a riot where protestors have now breached and are inside the Capitol building. This is NOT the America I spent my life defending.
Chris is someone I knew in college. He’s spent most of his adult life as an Army officer. He’s offline friends with one of Bill’s former colleagues from the early days of his Army career. Although Bill hasn’t met my college friend himself, my college friend later friended Bill, because they have the Army and Bill’s former colleague in common, as well as some mutual friends. That old concept, Six Degrees of Separation, works especially well in the military.
Anyway, given my college friend’s military career, he has a lot of Facebook friends and they run the gamut in terms of their politics. Naturally, a lot of the military folks who are friends with Chris are politically conservative. Based on his public thread, which at this writing has over 300 comments, many of my college friend’s contacts are mostly Trump supporting Republicans.
After awhile, someone brought up the fact that Trump’s leadership style is an awful lot like Adolf Hitler’s. Personally, I agree with the similarities. But whenever Hitler comes into the conversation about Trump, many people vehemently deny the comparisons. They think it’s awful to even go there. I guess I can understand why comparing Trump to Hitler makes people squeamish. People don’t want to think they fell for electing a monster, and it’s true that Trump hasn’t committed atrocities on the same level that Hitler did. But I think if people stopped to think about it for a minute– cleared their minds of the obvious distaste most people have for Hitler and looked at the issue critically– they might see why some of us can see how Hitler and Trump have used the same playbook. And even if they still disagree with the comparison, they might have more respect for the opinions of others who do see things in that way.
So how is it that some people see comparisons to Hitler and others don’t? I’ve found that conservatives who don’t see the parallels tend to focus on nitty gritty details. For instance, one Trump supporter I’ve talked to about this brought up that Trump (supposedly) isn’t anti-semitic. Others say that comparing Trump to Hitler is hyperbole that is insulting to Jewish people. They all bring up the fact that Trump hasn’t murdered six million people (yet), and comparing Trump to Hitler diminishes Hitler’s evil deeds. They’re looking at specific policies and the actual things that were done during the Holocaust. They don’t consider how the German people got to the point of ignoring the barbaric treatment of Jews and others who were deemed “undesirable”, such as communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies, and homosexuals, to name a few. Trump hasn’t yet managed what Hitler did. It would be difficult for him to do that in today’s world. But he motivates disenfranchised people in a way common to Hitler’s, and he has some very similar behaviors and mindsets to Hitler’s.
What these folks can’t seem to understand is that most people comparing Trump to Hitler have never said that Trump is *just like* Hitler, or that he believes in everything Hitler championed. What they’re saying is that he has a similar leadership style. Trump, like Hitler, was a mediocre person before he rose to power. Yes, Trump was wealthy and famous even before he became president, but most of his “accomplishments” came on the backs of other people. He’s definitely not a scholar, and if not for the family business, he probably never would have been regarded as a particularly brilliant businessperson. Trump made his money by screwing over and bullying other people. He is a taker. And although the role of POTUS is the ultimate government position, Trump never had an interest in government service. He had no experience as a politician and never would have been able to get a security clearance. What he is interested in is fame, power, self-gratification, and wealth, not being a leader. And those interests are what make him like Hitler, who was a similarly damaged, mentally ill person who was drunk on power.
Like Hitler, Donald Trump’s “gifts” are his charisma and ability to rile up people. Like all malignant narcissists, he knows what to say to motivate people. He knows how to get people energized and fool them into thinking that he’s working for them. But if you look beyond the surface, you can see there’s very little substance to what he says. And when it comes down to it, he really doesn’t care about anyone but himself and his obsession for power and money. He’s no different than a televangelist who talks people into sending him their grocery money on the promise that they’ll somehow be blessed by the Almighty. Trump ALWAYS blames other people when things go wrong, and he energizes other people, perhaps those who feel disenfranchised by virtue signaling liberals whom they think live in ivory towers, to think as he does. Of course, Trump wouldn’t deign to spend any time with most of the people who champion him. He looks down on the poor.
Hitler, likewise, was very good at riling people up and convincing ordinary Germans that his plan was what they needed to get out of their impoverished conditions. He convinced people to blame the Jews and, little by little, desensitized them to the cruelties and atrocities levied against Jewish people. Germans are, on the whole, very law abiding people, so he passed laws that enabled his campaign of hatred to go on unabated. He enlisted other people– power hungry, ambitious, cruel people– to join him in his campaign against Jews and others he deemed unacceptable or undesirable.
Take a look at Trump’s policies and you might see that he similarly dehumanizes people. In his case, it’s the “illegals”. And while the practice of “caging” people didn’t start with Trump, it definitely ramped up on his watch, especially as he insisted on going forward with his idea to build as massive wall to keep out “bad hombres”. Listen to what he says about other people. He views women as objects and values them only on their beauty. But even women he thinks of as “beautiful” are still just objects intended for his entertainment and enjoyment. They are less than human in his eyes. You only have to read some of his comments over the years to see that.
When people compare Trump to Hitler, it’s not because he’s been on a campaign of mass murder. It’s his behavior and his effect on his followers that they’re addressing. It’s Trump’s ability to motivate people to go to Washington, D.C. and attempt to derail democracy that makes him like Hitler. Sadly, a lot of people never think about this and won’t consider it. They only focus on what Hitler managed to do versus what Trump has done.
Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are easily impressed, particularly by those who make a lot of money. They are blinded by fame and wealth, and equate that to success. Many Americans are big believers in the “prosperity gospel”. They assume that a person’s power, thanks to wealth and fame, are a sign that they are favored by God. Most of them don’t think too hard about how someone would come into that much money, power, and fame. Sadly, a lot of people want to be in the orbit of fabulously rich and famous people. It doesn’t occur to them that a lot of really wealthy, famous people are shallow and selfish. Those qualities are often how they made their money and became powerful. They don’t care about others.
So anyway, a couple hundred comments into the contentious thread my friend Chris posted, another college friend joined the discussion. This friend is a woman I knew in school. She’s very bright and articulate, and she has a degree in history. Longwood University, particularly when we were students, has a very strong history department. Most of the people I know who got degrees in history at Longwood are very intelligent.
My friend brought up the Hitler connection, and she was immediately taken to task by one of Chris’s military buddies. This guy, name of Russ, is an author and a military officer. Sadly, based on his comments to my old friend from college, he’s not much of a gentleman. As the two sparred in Chris’s thread, I noticed that he started most of his comments with sarcasm, insults, and blatant rudeness. Meanwhile, my college friend, who like me, is an Air Force brat, responded to his comments with dignity and basic respect.
I was impressed by my friend’s comments. She’s definitely more patient than I am. I was tempted to jump into the fray myself, but I decided that I don’t like arguing with jerks, especially when I don’t know them and when it’s on social media. To me, it’s mostly a pointless exercise. Still, I was very proud of my friend for standing up to Russ and his obvious disrespect toward smart women. And then it occurred to me that Russ is not unlike a lot of people in the military– usually men– who look down on others. I have been on the receiving end of a lot of shit from people in the military community simply for daring to call my blog The Overeducated Housewife. These folks are usually the type who universally refer to military wives (and it’s always the wives, not the husbands) as “dependas”. A “dependa”, for those who don’t know, is a fat, lazy, parasitical woman who marries a military guy simply to drain his paycheck at AAFES and access Tricare benefits.
But even worse to the people who use the slur, dependa (which is short for dependapotamus), are smart women who feel emboldened to challenge them. Most of the men who act like Russ are the type of guys who can’t stand smart, outspoken, articulate women. And so, instead of treating them like equals, they do their best to try to diminish them with sarcasm, insults, and discounting. Here are a few of Russ’s comments:
He starts with this, after a third person called Trump a “Nazi” (which for the record, I don’t agree with– I don’t think Trump is a Nazi, but I do think many of his behaviors are like Hitler’s)…
Jesus, can we knock off the Nazi nonsense? Have you EVER stopped to think that such language is one of the reasons we’re so polarized? When someone invades the rest of Europe or kills 6 million people in systemic genocide, then maybe the Nazi comparison will be valid. Until then, it’s just a lazy way to tell everyone how much you hate those on the other side.
Then, a few comments later, Russ writes this:
no, it’s not like Hitler’s rise to power. Geez, when did our schools stop teaching actual history and start giving you whatever validates your personal political viewpoint? Hitler used a runaway inflationary crappy economy and hatred of Jews to rise to power and then systemically kill millions of people. Your over the top hyperbole isn’t helping; in fact, it’s part of what is inciting all of this.
You can sort feel his derisive mood in his words. He’s not responding to other posters with respect. He’s being insulting and rude and not even trying to see where the comparisons are coming from. And again, he’s focused on the “nitty gritty” of what fueled Hitler, not the behaviors themselves.
So my friend informed Russ about her background and wrote an explanation of why people compare Trump to Hitler. Below is what she wrote. The only thing potentially insulting to Russ is when she asks him not to question her education when he doesn’t even know her.
As someone who has a degree in history I feel that I have an accurate grasp on historical events and what leads to major historical events to parallel. Don’t question my education when you have no idea who I am or what I know.
Trump inflates the hatred of immigrants. There are camps with inhumane conditions that these immigrants are kept.
He uses the fallacy of America first to incite his followers to do his bidding. He can get a whole room of people to chant whatever party line he wants them to say. The nationalism he has evoked from people is blind to any thought other than America.
Having driven around this America during the pandemic I have seen many pockets of his followers and they are usually the very poor and the very rich. He preys on the insecurities of those who are scraping by and he protects his billionaire friends.
His actions are from a third world coup playbook. He does not have absolute power, there is a thing called checks and balances. He thinks he can tell congress what he wants and it will happen. He thinks he can determine how he wants the supreme court to make decisions. They all said, thank you, next and now he is pouting in the White House, on a twitter time out while people are still protesting in front of the Capitol building for a man who would easily thrust them in front of himself.
Your reluctance to see the parallels are because you just don’t want to be compared to an extreme government that exterminated 6 million souls and disenfranchised millions more. I can understand that, it hurts to have your belief system examined so thoroughly and compared to what has been declared monstrous.
Trumps actions are text book fascist, his hero is the leader of a dictatorship, how can you rationalize accepting this man as your leader?
He lost the election and now you are being asked to get over it like the democrats were told to in 2016.
This was a great opportunity for Russ to enter into a respectful and perhaps illuminating discussion about why some people are reminded of Hitler when they look at Trump. Even if my friend had failed to convince him, he might learn something from the exchange. Instead, he immediately insults and tries to bully her:
ooh, you have a pretty certificate? Well that just settles everything then, doesn’t it?
No, Trump is not inflaming hatred of immigrants. He does say we have a border that should be enforced, and I notice you left the word ILLEGAL out of your diatribe. BTW, remind me again when the cages went into service and who was President at that time…I kinda thought the American President was elected to look after America. Maybe I misunderstand the job.
If you’ve only seen very poor or very rich supporters, you need to get out more. I live among them, and they’re pretty much middle class. Or do you need to categorize them to justify your own opposition?
Which dictatorial actions has he taken? Has he arrested journalists and had their families followed? Oh, wait, that was Barack Obama…Hitler being appointed to the Chancellorship was a move aimed at appeasing his supporters by Hindenburg, so as to try and bring them into the governmental coalition. Hitler never won the Presidency on his own and only assumed it upon the death of Hindenburg. Moreover, he set about rounding up Jews inside Germany who were German citizens, and then he executed them. You conflating with Trump saying mean things is pretty comical.
BTW, remind me when democrats “got over” the election of 2016.
After I read this, I decided to take a look at Russ’s Facebook page. He evidently has a wife and daughters. I bet he speaks like this to them, too. I know the type. This is the same treatment I used to get from my father and my uncle, and other men in the family with military experience who have the erroneous idea that being rude and insulting is motivating. He probably treats the women in his family like trash. And this is a very typical attitude displayed by a lot of men in the military who can’t stand to be addressed by women.
So my friend continued with another comment, which I thought was pretty civilized.
Yes, I have a pretty piece of paper that states I put in the time to research my given field. It is where I met Chris, someone I greatly admire. I didn’t say it to brag, but to let you know I had the ability to read books, such as yours, to come up with my own educated opinion on matters.
And Russ comes up with this beaut…
so you continue your assertions based on your certificate and not on facts? I notice you failed to refute a SINGLE thing presented, instead relying on your degree to hopefully quell others into silence. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to dismiss you.
At this point, I’m pretty sure that Russ is just an asshole. But my friend addressed him again, I think quite respectfully, given Russ’s arrogant and dismissive tone toward her.
no, I don’t need to refute your position or points. This is not a debate. I am not required to defeat your ill informed assertions with a counterpoint to each point you make. My reference to my degree was presenting qualification to my argument like anyone would to demonstrate a mastery in a subject or skill. It wasn’t meant to put anyone down who does not have said “pretty paper” and I acknowledge there are many here more educated than me, some might even consider themselves overeducated.
At the end of the day, Congress ratified the electoral vote and Joe Biden will be the next President baring any actions taking place in Congress this week regarding Donald Trumps role in inciting violence.
It is easy for you, a male, to dismiss me because I don’t immediately defer to your superior opinion because, as a female, I must be stupid and not really understand how all of this works. Your bully tactics will not work on me.
As the daughter of a retired Air Force Colonel, I lived in a divided Germany and in school we were taught many things regarding international affairs, to include the responsibility of the people who fueled the ego of Hitler and how easy it was for him to rise to power.
We are in a poor economic situation. Trump is saying things that resonate in many hearts of like-minded people. Senators and congress-people of his own party support him at the cost of their own careers.
Four years go by fast. Instead of insurrection and sedition, why not form powerful election reform groups to ensure the next election is not “fraudulent.” Oh wait, if the presidential election was fraudulent, maybe the rest of the election was fraudulent and Mitch really isn’t the duly elected Senator from Kentucky? Shocker that the only election that is in question is the presidential election when every state had all offices on the same ballot. No one else on the ballot who lost are protesting like an angry dictator that there was voter fraud. They accepted the loss and said, get ’em next time.
And Russ couldn’t let it go, so he responded thusly:
I see, instead of taking on the points you quite obviously got wrong about rises to power, now it’s all about what is dangling between my legs. Why that’s not sexist at all!
I treated you the same way I treat everyone else. Stop acting all butt hurt b/c you got called out on your hyperbolic nonsense. It’s not about anyone bowing down to superiority – it’s about you being so full of rage and anger that it has tainted your judgment about how you pose historical context.
I went back, and golly gosh gee if I could find anywhere where I said Biden would not be the next President. Wouldn’t that simple fact, which everyone acknowledges, kinda undercut your Hitler assertion? Last I checked, Hitler was pretty unlikely to allow himself to be removed from power. But I get that you are wedded to overblown rhetoric that you somehow can’t see contributes to all the anger in our society today.
I see that you want to make this about the election in general instead of your Nazi reference bullshit. Biden won – shouldn’t that be enough for you to let go of this anger? Or are you intent on proving that it’s not Trump per se you dislike, but the Right in general, and Trump is merely a stand-in for that hatred?
He’s not even trying to understand where my friend is coming from. His attitude toward her was belligerent and insulting from the get go. But my friend stays on the high road and writes this:
If you felt any hatred from me toward Trump or the right I am quite surprised. He is not important enough to me to hate.
If there’s anything I hate, it’s when people try to tell me how I feel or what I think. Kudos to my friend for her even-handed response to a guy who did just that. But he couldn’t let it go. He had to lob one more missive.
your words tell a different story.
Nope, Russ. I don’t see it. But my friend offered these last thoughts, again, very classily stated.
I guess as an author you would know? Hate is something that is a visceral reaction. I don’t hate him any more than I hate you. I feel sorry for this country in being hoodwinked by the biggest con man to ever hold office and that is saying a lot because we have had quite a few in our history.
I can call someone a narcissist without hating them. I can describe behaviors as being childish without hating them. I can hold my ground on how I feel without being hateful toward you or anyone else who feels the same.
The feeling I feel is pity. I am unsure you understand why I feel pity without thinking that I am being condescending. This division is not the America I have been brought up to believe in so strongly. It is devolving into an us vs. them and I refuse to play into that role. So while you try to bait me with insults to get me to spew hate, it is not going to happen. I have many conservative friends who both support and don’t support Trump and I don’t treat them any different than any other friends. I will respectfully debate them when they want to debate and I will back off when it becomes uncivil.
What people don’t understand is the language of politics and how it is founded in civility. You explore the concept of hate in your book Schism as well as a fictionalized (which at the moment feels more non fiction given current political events) break of political parties where people are pitted against each other. You have some great reviews and I agree with one reviewer that this genre of literature (modern civil war) will be forthcoming more due to the political and civil unrest in the country. At some point, when courts, lawmakers, and other officials are saying there was no corruption, no fraud, when are the disenfranchised Trump supporters going to believe that? What do people have to do to make this be a settled matter?
I do hope my friend doesn’t mind that I posted about this… but this discussion is on a public thread and I was legitimately impressed by her intelligent and respectful responses to an apparently misogynistic bully (because I truly doubt he would have responded to a man in the way he responded to my friend). I already had a bee in my bonnet this morning on account of a couple of people insulting me on Gary Johnson’s Facebook page. One person called me “a special kind of stupid” and “selfish” because I wrote that the one good thing Trump has done is motivate people who ordinarily don’t vote to go to the polls and vote him out of office. I am delighted that Joe Biden won, simply because he’s a much more decent person than Trump is. But apparently, voting against Trump makes me “stupid” and “selfish” (looks like she deleted her comment after I called her out). Behold:
Anyway… it’s been a long four years and a long couple of days. Even if Trump isn’t entirely to blame for what happened in Washington, DC on Wednesday, he certainly had a hand in its fruition. The whole world is watching this, and Trump has not responded like a real leader should and would. It’s time for him to leave power before even more people get hurt or killed by his terrible policies. Maybe, with a leader who actually cares about others and sees them as more than just objects or weapons, America might be able to repair some of the damage. But I think we could all start by not immediately resorting to verbal abuse and insults, discounting other people’s opinions, and diminishing their accomplishments. That alone, would help make America much better… although we still have a long way to go before we’re “great”.
Last night, I read these words from a former Northwestern University lecturer by the name of Joseph Epstein.
Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name?
These words were printed in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper with a decidedly conservative bent, but one to which I am a current subscriber. I decided to subscribe to the WSJ a few weeks ago because I wanted to read an article and had to be a paid subscriber to do so. It wasn’t the first time I had wanted to read something published by the paper, and I am a big believer in paying for journalism. I currently subscribe to six different publications, four of which are papers with long histories and storied reputations. I don’t agree with everything I’ve read in any of these papers, but I think it’s important to have access to the services they provide. Almost all media sources are biased to some degree, which is why I think it’s important to read a range. The WSJ represents one of my conservative viewpoint sources.
A conservative viewpoint is certainly what Mr. Epstein, a man with a mere B.A. provides, when he slams the future First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, for referring to herself by the honorific “Doctor”. Dr. Biden earned a Doctorate in Education, most precisely, the Ed.D., at the University of Delaware. She also holds a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, and she has been working as a teacher since Melania was a wee lass. Dr. Biden certainly has earned the right to call herself “doctor”, even if she’s never “delivered a baby”, as Mr. Epstein asserts is the only reason anyone should be calling themselves “doctor”.
Mr. Epstein brags in his windy opinion piece that he’d taught at Northwestern University for thirty years without benefit of a doctorate or any other advanced degree. He writes that he got his B.A. “in absentia”, because on graduation day, he was at Fort Hood serving in the “peacetime Army in the late 1950s”. Then he goes on to wax poetic about the worthlessness of honorary doctorates, one of which he has. Epstein writes that the president of the school that awarded him his honorary doctorate was fired in the year following the award. I’m not sure what any of this has to do with Jill Biden or her considerable accomplishments, as well as the honest, valuable work she did in achieving them. But obviously, the people at the WSJ who decided Mr. Epstein’s piece was worth printing saw fit to trash the incoming first lady, who at least first became notable for things she’s done with her clothes on and her mind fully engaged.
It may be fair to note that Mr. Epstein is 83 years old, and is likely very set in his ways and his opinions. I’m sure it’s hard for him to imagine that a woman might be worthy of being called “doctor”. Hell, he’d probably rather refer to even the female medical doctors as “doctoress”, as they were called in the mid 19th century.
Interestingly enough, I once got chastised for referring to physicians as doctors by my own dentist, a man who is half German, half American. My dentist, who received his dentistry training in the United States, but has worked in Germany for decades, gave me a tutorial on who is allowed to be called “doctor” in Germany and clarified that here, a physician isn’t necessarily really the same thing as a doctor is. The female lawyer we used in our recent legal situation is referred to as “doctor”, even though in the United States, lawyers don’t typically go by that honorific. It’s because she wrote and successfully defended a dissertation, just as Dr. Biden did. But Epstein is apparently not impressed by Dr. Biden’s choice of subjects. He referred to the title of Dr. Biden’s dissertation “‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs’” as “unpromising”.
Why anyone should care about Epstein’s opinions of Dr. Biden’s dissertation is beyond me. The man has admitted that he, himself, had never managed to earn a legitimate advanced degree. He claims that we should not be impressed by Dr. Biden’s accomplishments because the standards aren’t as rigorous as they used to be, and according to him, that’s a bad thing.
Well… as someone who worked for three solid years earning two master’s degrees, I know that there is a lot that goes into earning higher degrees. It’s not just a matter of being smart and showing up. There’s also attending and actively participating in classes, studying, writing papers, and taking exams. There’s also the task of coming up with original ideas and convincing people who are further in their academic development that you are worthy of being awarded a diploma. It takes a lot of time and effort to earn degrees at legitimate universities. There’s also the cost of attending school, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of having a personal and professional life. I worked very hard when I was in graduate school, but I didn’t have a husband or children to worry about, nor did I have an extremely demanding job. I did have jobs while I was in school, but I was not in positions that required a lot from me.
Dr. Biden, by contrast, had a lot going on in her life when she was earning her doctorate. She was awarded that degree only two years before her husband was elected Vice President of the United States. And she worked as a professor the whole time he was in office, bringing a change of clothes with her to her job so she could go from the classroom to state dinners. This woman has surely proven herself worthy of great respect, at least to people who look at her objectively and don’t consider their personal feelings about her politics or her husband’s politics.
As is my custom, I read some of the comments on the Wall Street Journal’s site. I was heartened to read that many people had the same thoughts I have regarding Epstein’s ugly opinions. But I also wasn’t surprised to read comments from butthurt Trumpers, who are no doubt very sad that their disgusting literal golden boy, Donald Trump, isn’t going to be allowed to perpetuate his misogynistic and racist agenda on the United States for another four years… or, at least he won’t if the electors, voting in the electoral college today, do their duty.
Epstein’s sneering sexist attitude toward Dr. Jill Biden reminds me an awful lot of the sexist bullshit many women, particularly those who are married to servicemembers, get in the military community. God forbid a woman wants to be educated, intelligent, and accomplished in her own right. I have run into many little men who are very threatened by the fact that I’m educated. To a lot of guys in the military community, women who have married servicemembers are just “dependas”. Dependa is short for dependapotamus– fat, uneducated, lazy women who milk their husbands for their paychecks and military benefits.
Are there women like this in the military community? If I’m honest, I would have to say that there are, just as many other types of people are represented in the military community. But “dependa types” don’t represent the normal military spouse by any stretch, and I would add that any person who tolerates “dependa” behavior– whether it be from a man or a woman– has only themselves to blame for it. If you’re female, you can’t win in that community, either, because to a lot of these guys, if a woman isn’t an actual “dependa”, she’s an uppity bitch who has gotten too big for her britches and needs to be pushed down to her place. I’ve written about this phenomenon many times over the years and can supply lots of offensive quotes from men reacting to articles written about the “dependa” stereotypes. The people who perpetuate the dependa stereotype, by and large, are also the ones who uniformly refer to Democrats with terms like “libtards” and seethe at the idea that women and minorities might deserve equal rights, equal pay, and basic respect.
What Joseph Epstein proposes is nothing new… I’ve seen it and experienced myself from the same type of person he is– small minded, easily threatened, butthurt, and rapidly becoming insignificant and obsolete. I think Joseph Epstein has a hell of a lot of nerve printing his dismissive, discounting, and diminutive comments about Jill Biden. I think his issue is mostly jealousy and bitterness. When he called Dr. Biden, a 69 year old woman, “kiddo”, he revealed just how petty and threatened he is by strong, articulate, and driven women. He should be deeply ashamed of himself. I sincerely doubt this article ever would have been run if Dr. Biden was a man.
So yes, I will call Dr. Jill Biden by her honorific. She put in the work. She earned the honor. And we need a lot more women like her to undo the damage wrought by Joseph Epstein and his ilk. I look forward to welcoming Dr. Biden, with great pleasure, to the White House next month. I think she and her husband are exactly what we need.
Today’s featured photo was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, who expertly drew what I think Mr. Epstein is in his great novel, Breakfast of Champions.
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