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For 2014, A More Tolerant, Empathic World

For 2014, I wish everyone a world free of intolerance.

I hope for an end to mysogynist, classist, and potentially racist intolerant tripe, like that sputtered forth weekly by Chris Powell, the managing editor of the Manchester Journal-Inquirer regularly.  This week, Powell’s column, “Higher minimum wage won’t cure stupidity,” demands immediate response because Powell continues to clothe himself in woman-hating garb.

Powell, who has a larger audience than he deserves because of his position, theorized that the 45 cent increase in Connecticut’s minimum wage won’t really fix any problems because women, those harlots of Babylon, continue to have children when they shouldn’t.

In the white, professional, Christian, male universe Powell inhabits, the only purpose for sex is procreation. Powell doesn’t ever say worships  Rush Limbaugh. He doesn’t have to. His oeuvre speaks for itself.

Powell has a long history of the writing about the problems women cause, like those single moms wreaking havoc on societal institutions like newspapers with their evil, blasphemous out-of-wedlock child-birth. Back on September 28, 2013, Powell lamented “Journalism’s problem may not be the Internet.” He’s right. It’s not. Journalism’s problem is its calcified hierarchy of old white men with tiny worldviews, like him.

Who wants to read Powell’s column, which should be called “The Sound of One Bull Farting”?

In that week’s 1,000 words of lickspittle and boot-drivel, Powell opined “newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they’re living in, and couldn’t afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read. And such households constitute a rising share of the population.”

I don’t want to give voice to Powell’s noise, but I find it instructive to point out the intolerant speech that does nothing to create a positive vision of our society. Placing blame is easy. Forming consensus around adequate solutions to intractable problems is much more difficult than throwing darts aimed by the bridge of your white nose.

As if Powell has ever missed a mortgage payment in his life. As if everyone won the genetic lottery and was born white in apartheid America, and everyone knew the taste of caucasian manna in Yankee New England. The Susan Campbells of the world laid waste to Powell’s monomania.

“I don’t know if I need to go too deep into this, but those single mothers didn’t become single mothers alone,” Campbell wrote back in September 2013. “Men bear some responsibility, so in this era of women’s equality, we are still going to hold men accountable for their own actions. You. Still. Don’t. Get it.”

Powell offered no rejoinder, because he has none. It’s always Eve’s fault. Adam did nothing wrong. It’s the Gloria Allreds of the world claiming institutional injustice who should instead be looking for a way to let the guy get laid.  In November, Powell aimed his intolerance at Allred’s representation of UConn students who understand the only way to get the state’s attention to stop sexual assault is litigation.

On November 16, 2013, Powell agreed it was “Time to get real about sexual assault at Uconn.” In that installment of his column, Powell blamed  women for the sexual assault problem at the state’s flagship public university. He wrote:

“In fact, of course, nearly all sexual assault complaints at UConn and other colleges involve acquaintances – date rape – and thus are especially difficult to prove, relying on the credibility of the parties, which is often complicated by crushed romantic hopes.”

It’s just boys being boys, Powell says. Girls should appreciate the love men try to offer them.  Powell never proposes better sexual education in our schools at earlier ages to eliminate the machista power trips that are rapes. Powell never takes offense at rape culture plaguing modern American society, at the chronic, calcified violence against women.

He never looks outside of his skin or his office walls for solutions to human dilemmas.  Two in five children in Connecticut are hungry. Malnutrition causes children to grow up with smaller brains, with no hope. Who can blame anyone for having sex at age 15 when instant gratification is all you have?

Powell cannot see that, and hoists women on his petard, because they “had really messed up their lives.” This week, he continued his war against unwed mothers with the same subtlety of a two-by-four to the face. His collateral attack on minimum wage involved the story of a young fast food employee.

“She was living at home and got pregnant as well, and while she wanted to return to work, she couldn’t figure out how she could cover rent, utilities, and child care.” Of course not. It’s like Powell types not with his fingers but his penis.

New Haven seriously lacks affordable housing, energy costs in Connecticut are the highest in the nation, and America’s gross domestic product refuses to account for child-rearing as an economic positive.  So women pay for the privilege, honor and sacrifice of motherhood. And the Congresswoman relating these stories, don’t worry, Powell seems to sneer, we’re not listening to her.

Powell’s one-eyed view of the world berates the “37-year-old woman related that she has been unemployed for seven years, served prison time for credit-card fraud, had a child three years ago with her husband, also unemployed, and can’t find a job because employers are put off by her criminal record.”  To him, “in the age of free contraception and abortion these stories are most of all catastrophically stupid.”

Men can never be the problem to a Powell. Male dominance of governing institutions – 80-20 in the United States Senate and 354-81 in the House of Representatives – has nothing to do with a society that treats women as second class citizens. It’s their fault.

It’s worse in state legislatures, like South Carolina, which only has one woman. But it’s all her fault for not overcoming centuries of policies that keep women barefoot and pregnant.

On November 8, 2012, the New York Times published the results of an unscientific “study of women’s participation in political decision making.” The Times found as professors seriously considering the issues did:

“[W]hen there are more women in legislatures, city councils and school boards, they speak more and voice the needs of the poor, the vulnerable, children and families — and men listen. when there are more women in legislatures, city councils and school boards, they speak more and voice the needs of the poor, the vulnerable, children and families — and men listen.”

So for 2014, I wish that Chris Powell would hear these women and understand how institutional prejudices cause more of the problems than he cares to admit.

In fact, for 2014, I hope that the scales would fall from our eyes, that we, as a society, have a moment of salvation on our road to Damascus (both figuratively and literally – who can forget that civil wars like those in Syria impact women and children the most).

I wish in 2014 we as a species experience a series of collective empathic and compassionate breakthroughs which create a more just, safe, peaceful and verdant human condition.

Happy New Year! May 2014 surpass all our dreams, goals and aspirations!


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