Jewish World Review Dec. 27, 2001/ 12 Teves, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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The Twelve Days of inconsistency -- DURING the most wonderful time of the year folks laden with figgy pudding and dragged through river and wood let their guards down. The eggnog does talk. This season revealed philosophical inconsistencies.

The New York Times reported that losses at Cantor Fitzgerald, housed in the World Trade Center's top floors, have left 1,300 children fatherless. USA Today and Prime Time Live had features on 14 babies born fatherless because of September 11, "What the babies . . . . have in common are the fathers they will never know." The Today Show hauled fatherless tykes to meet Joe Torre and Michael Jordan. The Times noted, "No effort has been spared to ease the burden for parents going it alone."

Sacre bleu! A father is important? What happened to "I am woman"? Women choosing not to marry, women partnering with other women and David Crosby (a la Melissa Etheridge), women lifting buildings? Missing in these stories on fatherless tots was the usual dismissal of fathers. A woman who wants to have a child says at 8 weeks, "I'm having a baby." A woman who does not want the child says, "This tissue mass must go." A child growing up without a father when mom wants a father is tragic. A child growing up without a father because it is mom's choice is, well, a choice.

There are the stories of women going to war. Jaimie Strathmeyer, 22, called up by the Army Reserves, let the New York Times tell her gut-wrenching story of leaving behind 7-year-old Shaiyann and14-month-old Kody, "As a mother she is bereft, 'There's no way to explain this to Kody. . . . The worst part is imagining that by the time I get home, he'll be calling my mother Mommy and my father Daddy.'"

Missing were the female be-all-that-you-can-be platitudes. Combat duty involves extended travel, without daycare. NOW's demands for the next defense budget, " Food for camels in petting zoo at Kandahar day-care facility."

So long as we're trotting down the whining gender paths, the media outlets were up on the rooftops, elated, and shouting that Katie Couric is now the highest paid news personality in history. Missing were the "gender wage gap" discussions.

Kenneth Feinberg, victim relief fund czar, announced algebraic formulas for computing how much the September 11 victims would receive. Missing were discussions of evil capitalism. Missing also was "from each according to ability, to each according to need." Formerly, under media tax refund theories, those with more should get less. Those with Sting and Celine Dion telethon money should get nothing, but the media don't apply their class warfare theories here.

John Walker bin Laden Lindh benefited from good tidings as well. Within hours of Timothy McVeigh's arrest for the Oklahoma City bombings, the media had him tenuously tied to Rush Limbaugh and Hillary haters. Missing is traitor Walker's background: he spent his youth in a sixties hippies neighborhood and his childhood in Washington, D.C.

In a festive mood, Congress passed an education reform bill sans vouchers. Children stuck in dismal public schools can now transfer to the higher-grade poor public schools. But they can't take their public schools funds to private schools. Missing were discussions of Senator Ted. Kennedy's et al. children attending tony Sidwell Friends.

The twelve days of inconsistency reached crescendo with Kensington, Maryland nixing Santa Claus from its annual Christmas tree lighting festival. Not nixing the "Christmas" tree, not "winter break tree," or "holiday tree," seemed inconsistent. But town council member Glenn Cowan assured, "It's an entirely secular Christmas tree."

Missing was recognition that Santa is the secular part of Christmas. My youth with Bible-thumping Baptists and adulthood in church each Sunday never witnessed homage paid to Santa Claus. There are religious factions who put Kris Kringle right up there with Harry Potter and Halloween.

As Kensington felt the pain of Santa, New York City's chancellor of public schools permitted Muslim students to pray in school during Ramadan. A spokeswoman explained, "Students want to pray for the religious holiday. We want to accommodate them." Missing were discussions as to why prayers to Allah don't violate the establishment clause but prayers to G-d do. When the ADHD crowd gets rolling, moments of silence will offend too.

This season revealed innermost feelings unwittingly. That fathers matter. That women are doing awfully well. That women in combat is a bad idea. That some deserve more. That prayer might open a heart. And when the heart is open, intellectual postures seem to be missing something. When the missing heart is watching, sometimes even listening, things do seem inconsistent.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
12/29/00: The year that was
12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
10/27/00: Al in the package? Memo to women: Choosing presidents and husbands
10/20/00: Ten things the gay community should understand
10/13/00: "You Have a Lump."
10/06/00: The government as the pharmacy: Don't
09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings