All our lives we’ve heard stories about The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Now we can add to that two grinches – Rush Limbaugh and Mike Huckabee – who stole the Obama family’s Thanksgiving. Or, at least tried. While the rest of us were preparing last week to express gratitude for our blessings, those two spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving urging President Barack Obama to expose his wife, two daughters, and mother-in-law to airport security groping.
Huckabee, told his television friends on Fox and Friends: “If he thinks this is an appropriate way for us to deal with security as he has defended, then I’ve said, ‘OK, Mr. Obama, take your wife, your two daughters, and your mother-in-law to Washington Reagan National Airport and have them publicly go through both the body scanner and the full enhanced pat-down in front of others. And, if it’s OK for your wife, your daughters, and your mother-in-law, then maybe the rest of us won’t feel so bad when our wives, our daughters, and our mothers are being put through this humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional, intrusion of their privacy.’”
Limbaugh said just like Obama went swimming with his daughter Sasha off the coast of Florida after the BP oil spill to show that the beaches were safe, he should “take his daughter to the airport and have a TSA grope her” to prove it is safe.
These are yet more examples of critics who have an issue with the president attacking his family instead of criticizing whatever public policy issue they find objectionable. It’s fine to attack the idiotic way the Transportation Security Administration has rolled out tougher screening measures. But it’s not okay to use the Obama daughters in particular for target practice. They’ve done nothing to deserve such crass treatment by men who should know better.
This is not the first and nor will it be the last time those two beautiful girls have been used to make a political point.
In June, Glenn Beck was enraged by an author moving next door to Sarah Palin in Alaska in preparation for writing a book. He said at the time, “You don’t go after Chelsea Clinton. You don’t talk about the Bush kids…You leave families alone.”
Two days later, however, he mocked 11-year-old Malia Obama, whose father had told the public that she had asked him when the BP oil spill would be plugged. Beck did a poor imitation of Malia on his radio program and questioned her intelligence.
Of course he later apologized, but attack dogs such as Beck usually issue perfunctory apologies after they’ve done the damage.
The attacks on the Obama women were crude and sexist. Why did the Limbaugh and Huckabee axis of evil only suggest that Obama take women relatives to the airport for intrusive screenings and pat-downs? Do they think President Obama own his wife, daughters, and mother-in-law and is therefore able to order them to go to the airport? Has it ever crossed their warped minds that Michelle Obama is a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law, an equal partner in her marriage and does not have to walk two steps behind her man?
There were other ways Huckabee and Limbaugh could have made their point. For example, they could have suggested that the president and the vice president make the trek to the airport. They also could have suggested that members of his cabinet, both males and females, take off their shoes and subject themselves to a full body scan.
No, the suggestion was that the president take only women – the women closest to him – on a field trip for public humiliation. Perhaps it’s no accident that two White men were bold enough to tell this Black man what to do with “his” women.
In the bygone era that both Limbaugh and Huckabee often long for, White men told Black men what to do and when to do it. Though many in that era were avowed segregationists, they believed in integration during the time they forced themselves on defenseless African-American women. Former Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina is Exhibit A.
White women were also exploited. They were relegated to the home, weren’t allowed to own property, forbidden from filing suit in court, banned from entering into contracts, and weren’t allowed to have custody of their own children. They weren’t allowed to vote until 1920.
For women, the bygone era is not totally bygone.
Discrimination based on sex was outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was not until 1968 that the EEOC ruled that sex-segregated newspaper ads were illegal. In 1974, women were allowed to obtain credit in their own name. Sexual harassment was outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986. And, just last year, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act was signed into law by President Obama, giving women a better opportunity to earn the same pay as their male counterparts. Recent advancements notwithstanding, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
This is the world the Obama women and every other female live in.
I often think about what the late historian John Hope Franklin said on the eve of President Obama’s election. He said that it may be more important to see a Black family in the White House than simply an African-American man. Now that we have a smart, loving intact family residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s disturbing that Limbaugh’s and Huckabee’s primary desire today is to have the president order the females in his family to go to the airport for body scans and pat-downs.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. He can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
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