12.18.2011

from newspeak central: frederick douglass, susan b. anthony, and the anti-abortion-rights movement

Paging George Orwell: a new US anti-abortion bill is named Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.

Good story plus mostly good comments at the link, too. Thanks to James.

9 comments:

johngoldfine said...

You'd almost think the namers of this legislation had an evil sense of humor, if it were not so obvious from the mischievous and tendentious language in the bill that they are humorless fanatics.

johngoldfine said...

After thinking it over for a few minutes and reacquainting myself with the details of Frederick Douglass's life, I have an even darker construction to put on this legislation's title.

Apparently the rationale for the law is that black women choose abortion at much higher rates than white women--this law forbids abortions based on the race of the fetus, so, at first glance, one is left with the absurdity of a black woman not wanting to have a baby of black or mixed race parentage.

But Frederick Douglass himself was probably the single most handsome public figure in American history--in another age, he could have made his fortune standing in front of a camera...and judging from the 19th Century rumors, tittletattle, and scandal, his beauty and charisma translated into affairs with and eventually marriage to white women

So, now I have a different picture. Frederick Douglass is not invoked because of his defense of women's rights. He is invoked because he is the nightmare figure of the potent black man--Mandingo!-- on the prowl for the forbidden fruit. Some poor sweet white woman is swept away in a moment of telenovela passion, realizes she can't carry the resulting child to term without revealing her shame, so she opts for an abortion based on the mixed-race of the fetus!

Instead of an incredibly brave fighter, Douglass is now in this bill reduced to mere philandering miscegenist.

johngoldfine said...

Laura--on a lighter note, we once had a poodle named Peppy whose hair grew back over his head in the same leonine manner as Douglass's and with a comparable texture--it was not lese majeste but tonsorial admiration when we occasionally addressed him as 'Fred.'

laura k said...

Hmm, interesting take. And an interesting doggie nickname!

laura k said...

Crazy thing about that TNR story, the writer spoke to John Ibbitson, a Canadian columnist who writes frequently about the US, and the result never remotely resembles the US any of us know, it reads strictly like a government press release.

johngoldfine said...

It is strange that that Canadian source would give TNR that take on the Canadian right.

It's also strange to me that I have no sense at all of the political landscape in Canada--wmtc IS Canada, AFAIC. I might have a passing idea about or knowledge of some USAian equivalent of Ibbitson, but, as it is, he could be from Mars. And the Canadian border is only a few hours drive away....

laura k said...

That is Canada's fate - obsessed with the US, unrequited.

Most USians know very little about Canada, and before we began investigating whether we could emigrate, that went for us, too.

johngoldfine said...

In 1967 I drove through Canada from Maine to Alaska --it seemed pretty flat until it stopped being flat at all. Then there was the giardia thing, oooooh. Lots of Chinese restaurants when I was feeling a little better. And that's Canada!

laura k said...

Ah, driving from Maine to Alaska. That sounds like heaven to me. Seriously.

I had been to Canada many times through my life, but I never really knew anything about it. Canada was the place my brother would have gone if he had been drafted.