“Legitimate Rape,” “States’ Rights,” and “Taking Back America!”
I often wondered about the practical value of what was being taught to me, that is, until my junior high school history teacher mentioned “states’ rights” as a slogan used to defend the enslavement of Africans. After 1863, the same slogan was used to defend discrimination that maintained the social, economic, and political disenfranchisement of African Americans. During the 1960s, “states’ rights” again served as code words for those who violently opposed the federal government’s efforts to end racial segregation. Today, therefore, I cringe each time I hear those who want to “take back America” also fly under the flag of “states’ rights.”
If the current “states’ rights” advocates wish to “take back America,” from whom do they wish to take back our, not their, country?” What are we to make of the juxtaposition of the  election of the first bi-racial President;  the nearly paranoid concern some have with immigrants of color “invading” America although they only seek the same benefits sought by the “pilgrims;”  the fact that statistically speaking the “browning of America” is in full effect; and  the eruption of “taking back America” rhetoric over the past four years?
And then came the latest wild ejaculation from the Missouri Representative Todd Akin who unabashedly spoke about women's bodies being able to prevent pregnancies when they are victims of "a legitimate rape!” Are we not to believe that his subsequent “apology” was anything more than “crying crocodile tears?” It is my opinion that it is only because there is something so terribly wrong in the minds of some men that they have the audacity to utter things such as “legitimate rape.” And the sexist nature of the statement was not lost on me given my suspicion that Akin could never “shape his lips” to utter something as absurd as a man’s body and brain being able to “shut down” when a man is the victim of a “legitimate rape.”
Many of us hoped that women obtaining their right to vote and the passing of Title IX had contributed mightily to the acceptance of gender equity in America. On the world stage, 2012 American female Olympic participants demonstrated what could be realized when women had the right and opportunity to choose what to do with their lives. Yet, when “Obama Care” passed, there was an appalling rush by some male politicians and others to attack, in every possible way, women’s right to make fundamental decisions about their bodies.
At this point, I believe that there are some who are suffering from a significant psychological disorder, the type of thing associated with the spoiled male brat who is finally told he must “share his marbles” after years of having an unwarranted disproportionate share of the “marbles.” Alabama governor George C. Wallace clarified this awful mental state in his 1963 inaugural address by stating: “In the manner of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny… segregation today...segregation tomorrow...segregation forever (bold and underlining mine).” Back then, his words chilled me to the bone and hearing Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks did the same a few days ago. Just who are these “greatest people that have ever trod this earth” and why do they think it is just an “oops” to talk about a “legitimate rape?” This is at best an oxymoron that is beyond the pale and, at worse, one more sign of the very extreme and radical agenda that some would like to have implemented in November.
If we are ever to make good on the promise of a “post-racial” America, then now is the time for people of good will to make sure they are properly registered to vote, to resist the current efforts to implement “poll taxes” in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. To sit out the 2012 election will be to contribute to decades of turmoil because of inappropriate behaviors based on race, class, gender, religion, and other evil “isms.” November 2012 is the time to say “NO” to the continued covert and now overt war on women; the sustained efforts to oppress people of color; the declared intent to change Medicare as we know it and hurt so many who depend on this health care; the growing anti-immigrant mentality; the recent declaration by a presidential hopeful that he wishes to “defund Planned Parenthood;” and the continued granting of economic privileges to the top 1% of our population.
Jack L. Daniel
Distinguished Service Professor
University of Pittsburgh
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