but Sarah Palin just told me that I’ve got VIP access now. Sweet! Ta-Nehisi Coates suggested bloggers should post this around the web. Guess he was flabbergasted Palin would basically use religion and the fear of eternal hell-fire to guilt believers into voting for her.
I think the clip is ridiculous, partly because she sounds funny and partly because she takes Madeline Albright’s quote out of context. She even misquotes it by using the word “support” instead of “help”. I have to agree wholeheartedly with a commenter on Coates’ blog who goes by the name Cynic:
[…] It’s a stupid comment, and a cheap throw-away line. But it’s fairly clear that Sarah Palin doesn’t have a theology, as religious scholars might use that term – no systematic understanding of the world or God’s role in it, that seeks to grapple with the paradoxes and profundities of faith. She isn’t speaking a religious truth – support her or burn – so much as giving voice to her twisted brand of feminism, in which opposing an unqualified woman running for office is an act of sexism.
But the comment is well worth getting angry about for its underlying logic. Palin lifted the quote off of a Starbucks cup, deliberately selected a quote from a prominent liberal, and then delivered it with her own partisan spin – and dared the media to call her on it. What she’s actually saying in this clip is something like: “Those liberal-feminist-elites have been accusing us for years of being sexist, of being bigoted, for not embracing the feminist revolution. Well, here I am, a woman running for the second highest office in the land, and all of a sudden, they hate me. So I’m going to say precisely what they say, and just watch – I’ll be condemned for it.”
So there are two objectionable aspects to what’s going on here. The first is Palin’s attempt to claim for herself the mantle of feminism, to invoke the solidarity of sisterhood. There’s some irony here – she owes her candidacy to the fetishization of diversity that marked the excesses of the rights revolutions. The white/male backlash has always contended that unqualified people were winning opportunities at their expense; liberals did their best to rebut those charges. Palin, chosen over more qualified candidates on account of her gender, is a sort of perverse conservative fantasy, a living embodiment of their caricature of affirmative action. (That these programs were designed to compensate for inequality of opportunity, and were never about advancing the unqualified or the unsuited is almost beside the point – conservatives never believed that, anyway.)
But the more pernicious aspect is the embrace of the myth of victimization. Palin is arguing that conservatives are persecuted by the media – held to a double standard – criticized for voicing the identical things that liberals can freely say. Nevermind that Albright was talking about coming to the aid of the weak and persecuted, and Palin about voting in an election. Her argument is that just as many Americans feel that they’ve never had a fair shake in life, she too is being denied her fair chance – by the same shadowy, manipulative forces. It borders on the bizarre – Conservatives controlled the White House for the past eight years, and the Congress until just two years ago, and still control the Supreme Court – but that doesn’t diminish from the zeal with which these beliefs are embraced. And, unsurprisingly, even as the number of Americans to whom this persecution complex appeals has diminished, it has been embraced with ever-greater-fervor by the remaining hardcore dittoheads.
There’s danger in her words, but it’s not religious fanaticism. It’s the misbegotten sense that the world is unfairly conspiring against her, and against her audience.