Call Me Un-American, Then!

If you haven't seen/heard/read the latest kerfluffle kicked up by Rosie O'Donnell, click HERE. You can also read about it HERE. Go ahead, I'll wait.

I have some very mixed feelings about Rosie O'Donnell in general, but I feel the need to say something because this whole issue brings up several subjects that are close to my heart.

Firstly, it upsets me that people are so quick to call Rosie a bad mother. If she were heterosexual, I sincerely doubt that people would be so quick to judge her parenting skills. They might still take issue with the video/photo essay, but I don't think it would extend to questioning her fitness as a mother. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I am obviously more attuned to this sort of thing than others might be. From what I have seen and read of Rosie's words and her actions, she loves her children fiercely. In my opinion, unconditional love is 99% of what is required to be a "good parent". The remaining 1% is an equal mix of patience, stubbornness, humor, flexibility and selflessness.

The video itself is breathtaking. It is a gorgeous photo essay about a little girl growing up in the world. Rosie has said that the video is about whatever the viewer decides it's about. This is what I've decided.

I think people are so disturbed by the image of a little girl dressed as a soldier because it's a little too "real". It's the undeniable truth distilled into one image. American children, 3000 and counting, have died in Iraq. Every time I see a photo of yet another dead soldier on the evening news the first thought through my head is "that young, beautiful, brave (wo)man was someone's baby once". The grief that child's mother is suffering would be unendurable to me. Vivienne's photo represents each one of those children, and it's an overwhelming reality to face. If, indeed, the video was intended as an anti-war statement, it hit the mark in a powerful, undeniable way.

Whether the photos were spontaneous or staged is beside the point. I don't know, and I don't really care. What I do know is that it provoked a visceral reaction in me, and it seems that many, many people have had the same experience. The meaning we have all attached to it is colored by our individual experiences and feelings.

The United States is at war at home just as much as it is at war in the Middle East. The media would have us believe that the 2 sides are black and white. You're either Toby Keith or a dirty Hippie. The truth, as it does with all subjects worth arguing about, lies somewhere in between.

Rosie O'Donnell herself is a controvercial figure because she doesn't always know when to shut up. She has engaged in several public battles that have left her looking defensive, easily angered, and just slightly crazy. I wonder, though: if she were not lesbian, not an adoptive mom, not fat, loud, or opinionated, or not a woman, would anyone bother to care what she has to say or what photos of her child she chose to share on her website? I try to consider these questions before I pass judgement.

For my part, I tap into the part of my DNA that connects me to the Revolutionaries who raised a ruckus with the Boston Tea Party. True Patriots are not always popular, and often think in opposition to conventional wisdom and popular political culture. I consider myself a Partiot because I am outraged by the abuse of power and outright lies that led to the US going to war in Iraq. I am disgusted by those who say that people who are against the war are against America. I am against a president who will go down in history as a war criminal, and I am against the creation of more grieving mothers weeping over the flag-draped caskets of their dead babies.

1 comment:

shrimplate said...

Forgive for sounding at first a bit argumentative. I'm not. I would just like to say that like you I am mostly disgusted with people who equate opposition to the war with anti-Americanism. There are others that say such things, others that I just pity.

There was a LTTE in the Republic from a man whose son's name, apparently, is likely to be on the T-shirts printed up by Frazier. The man is deeply offended and doesn't want his son's name "exploited."

As if his son's life were not only exploited, but discarded on the pyre of Bush's smoldering ego-war.