Snyderian Truism #9

How about some controversy today, since I’m normally so non-controversial? I’ve periodically presented what I call “Snyderian Truisms.” If you’ve missed the first eight, there’s a category on the right sidebar you can click to see them. It’s time for #9.

When I teach about the 1960s, a decade of radical change culturally in many ways, one of my topics is the self-titled Women’s Liberation Movement. So that students will know where I’m coming from as we discuss this topic, I give them this truism:

Femininity and feminism are not the same: God created the first; those who didn’t like God’s creation devised the second.

Feminine MystiqueWhile I readily understand that some will not consider this a truism, I stand by it. The presumed liberation movement that women needed was kickstarted by author Betty Friedan in her book The Feminine Mystique. It was the opening salvo in the attempt to remake the image of women.

Anytime women are mistreated, you will find me on the front lines defending them. God created both male and female, both are in His image, and both are to be treated with respect. Sometimes, though, rage is manufactured.

Rage became a salient feature of this liberation movement, as it does with all movements so named. Women, we were told, are an oppressed minority. Ignore the fact, for the moment, that women are not a minority at all; according to the movement, they can claim that status due to the way in which they have been treated.

What has been the source of this maltreatment? Why, society’s rigid stereotyping of the roles of men and women, of course. And the bedrock institution that furthers this injustice is marriage, a convenient setup that allows men to dominate all other areas of society while women are forced to stay home and take care of the children.

NOWThe remedy for all this oppression is threefold: abolish traditional marriage; accept lesbianism as an equally valid lifestyle; allow unfettered abortion. Only by sanctioning these three via law can true equality of the sexes be achieved. A new organization devoted to these goals appeared in 1966, dubbed the National Organization for Women (NOW). Even the acronym stressed the “urgent” nature of the movement. The first goal was accomplished with Roe v. Wade. Ever since, the “right” to an abortion has been the cornerstone for this radicalism. Touch that presumed right and you are the enemy.

Today, the other two goals are rapidly coming to pass: homosexuality has been given protected status and traditional marriage is constantly under attack. You could say this has been one of the most successful revolutionary movements in history.

Yet it means the death of a Christian culture. Once the roots of marriage and family are ripped out of a society, moral chaos and national decline will follow. Children will be considered a burden; genuine male/female love in marriage will be laughed at as old-fashioned at best, subversive at worst; all boundaries based on Biblical morality will be erased. We will have entered the brave new world so many rebels against God’s laws have always sought.

Yet there remains this gentle reminder for those of us who are Christians, a reminder that needs to be transmitted to this new generation:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. . . . He who loves his own wife loves himself. . . . For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. . . . Each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Some will object to the word “subject” in the first sentence. That’s because they misunderstand the nature of Biblical subjection. For the real definition, go to the last sentence, where respect is the key. The entire passage focuses on mutual love and respect. God’s prescription for marriage, if followed, never leads to oppression.

Palin's America by Heart

I bought Sarah Palin’s new book, American By Heart, just before Christmas, knowing I would have time to read it before my new semester began. George Bush’s book took priority, since it was longer, so I didn’t finish Palin’s book until last weekend—an appropriate time to complete it as it coincided with the shooting in Tucson and all the accusations against Palin. The image presented by the far Left, that she is vitriolic [last week’s favorite word, later followed by “civility”] and uses rhetoric that spurs people on to violence, cannot be sustained in light of what Palin herself writes. I wonder if any of those who hate her have taken the time to read what she actually has written?

Unlike her earlier autobiography, which naturally concentrated on her upbringing, her family, and her experiences as the vice-presidential candidate, this new book provides the opportunity for her to express what she really believes about government, the place of America in the world, and the significance of religious roots for the health of our society. It allows her to construct a framework, or worldview, within which to understand her positions on the issues that confront us all, whether in culture or in politics.

Palin also makes extensive use of quotes from a panoply of conservative thinkers and politicians from Alexis de Tocqueville to Calvin Coolidge to one of her favorites and mine, Ronald Reagan. I was also gratified that she recognized the value of Whittaker Chambers in our history.

Yet she doesn’t confine herself to conservatives, pulling excerpts from speeches by John F. Kennedy and others not of her political stripe—even from Barack Obama himself.

Here’s a quick rundown of the emphases of the book:

Chapter one, “We the People,” stresses the significance of the nation’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. God-given rights, as posited in the Declaration, and fidelity to the limits of government’s power, as delineated in the Constitution, are cornerstones of liberty.

She turns in chapter two to an appreciation of those who serve in the military, contrasting that appreciation with the disdain shown by Hollywood toward the armed forces, where a reflexive anti-Americanism often surfaces. She also quotes freely from John McCain’s account of his time as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Her respect for McCain’s service is genuine.

From the military, Palin segues into an examination of the concept of American exceptionalism. Is American exceptional? In what sense? Here is where she draws on the writings of Tocqueville to highlight what an eighteenth-century Frenchman saw when he visited this country. America is not perfect, she is clear to note, but it is exceptional in many ways. The problem is that some national leaders no longer believe in that exceptionalism.

Family, parenting, and the pro-life message come next. Here’s where Chambers enters the picture as she relates his account of how meditating on the intricate design of his daughter’s ear led him to think of a Creator.

Her chapter on Mama Grizzlies contains her concept of feminism, a feminism that empowers women but doesn’t degrade men or try to erase the distinctions between the sexes. That leads into a discussion of the value of hard work, which she contrasts with the self-esteem culture that seems to dominate our society today.

In the final three chapters, Palin focuses on the importance of religious belief for all of life and the nation. Without being preachy, she nevertheless traces how religious beliefs have been the foundation for our society from the beginning. Never, though, does she imply that government should step in and force religion on anyone. In fact, she quotes former attorney general John Ashcroft saying, “It’s against my religion to impose my religion on others.”

Palin’s conclusion is entitled “Commonsense Constitutional Conservatism,” and if she does decide to run for the presidency, I believe this will be her slogan.

Do I have any criticisms of the book? Well, I don’t share her belief that 12-Step programs are part of a religious revival. In fact, I believe they do a disservice by calling something a disease that is actually a sin. I also think she could have cut back a little on some of the quotes. Of course, that comes from my academic milieu, where you don’t want to overdo the quotations. Yet those are quibbles when compared with the positive message she shares and the agreement I have with the other 99% of the book.

For those who believe Sarah Palin is a danger to America, that she is a purveyor of hatred, I challenge them to read this book. They won’t agree with her but they might see a different person than the stereotype they have adopted. If they really believe in civility, they will take this first step and not fall into a stereotype of their own:

Is that really how they wish to be perceived?