|Hillary's Convention Speech and Revisionist History|
by Julian X  /  non-fiction  /  27 Aug 2008
A lot of people, including myself, have pointed out that Hillary's speech didn't address her past comments trivializing Obama as an inexperienced joke.
But there's another problem with her speech -- something fewer will point out: how much of it is revisionist history. In recent months, Hillary's talked constantly about women and how her campaign represents a giant step forward for women. She's talked repeated about daughters looking at the campaign and seeing that women can accomplish anything. She's positioned herself as the great female hope, almost as a living avatar for gender equality.
But that's not why she ran. It's all what she's made up after the fact.
Hillary ran as the inevitable candidate. She voted for the war not because she believed it but because it was seen as the smart move and because she had to fight against the perception that women are weaker and gunshy. She specifically avoided any attempt to run as "the female candidate."
Only in the end stretch, as she was losing, did she start talking about all of this. Yes, the shift was certainly inspired by women and girls saying such things on the campaign trail. But, in adopting it as a cause, she was really imitating Obama.
Obama ran on change, and his skin color made him the living embodiment of change. He looked like no one else who'd ever run for President. Blacks saw him as their first real shot at the Presidency, and even white Democrats loved the possibility of making history in such a fashion. Meanwhile, Hillary was running with the mantra "you know I'm going to win, so just vote for me and we can start running against the Republicans now."
Pundits pointed out that she should probably shift to running as the female candidate, that she should give a speech on gender to rival Obama's speech on race. That she was just a candidate, but he was a movement. And that's exactly what she did.
So all of this feminist version of Obama stuff is just that: derivative. Not to mention revisionist history about her campaign and her reasons for running.
It's also revisionist history in another, more important way. Hillary constantly compares the movement towards women's rights with the African-American civil rights movement. She talks glowingly about the suffragettes, which tonight she linked with the underground railroad.
All of this is nonsense. The women's rights movement has never been parallel to the African-American civil rights movement. In fact, they've often been at odds.
Early suffragettes frequently argued that women's votes would help balance the votes of immigrants and non-whites. In other words, a white man would have two votes: his and his wife, who was expected to vote the way he told her. But immigrants were overwhelmingly male, meaning that they'd have fewer votes -- and we could keep America white.
Not to mention that suffragettes weren't strung up in trees, lynched, murdered by the KKK, hosed down by cops in the street, and facing corrupt police forces and judiciaries that sentenced them unjustly. Women aren't even a minority: there are more women than men in the U.S. Women live longer, due to medical advances focusing on childbirth.
Blacks are disproportionately incarcerated. Women are disproportionately free. Blacks are disproportionately poor. Not so women. Blacks were disproportionately drafted to die in Vietnam. Women weren't even drafted.
Feminists often point out how women make less money than men, statistics that ignore that women choose to work fewer hours, to take more leave time, and to focus more on their families than their jobs. Well, blacks still make far less money than women. If a racist, sexist hick is hiring, you can bet that he'll choose the women with unshaved armpits to the black man with cornrolls.
So let's be honest about racism and sexism: you just can't compare the two. In fact, it's offensive to the civil rights leaders who were assassinated and to the young people, white and black, who were murdered for participating in the movement. It's a little like comparing domestic violence to the Holocaust: it's not only ridiculous but a little offensive.
And it's only a sign of continued racism that people don't point this out. A wealthy, educated white woman says she's discriminated against, and the press accepts it. Forget the black guy who knows real discrimination but has learned to shut up about it around whites or seem like a looney radical.
Knowing this, there's something very patronizing about Hillary's phony "women's candidate" business. Hillary litters her speeches on the subject with pop culture references. In her convention speech, she talked about her supporters as the "sisterhood of the travelling pants-suits."
It trivializes her invocation of sexism and female suffering. It points out that her real audience are white women who watch trivial, white, girlie movies. Priviledged people -- people who, in claiming the status of an oppressed minority, are hypocrites.
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