Hypocrisy and Cruelty Towards Sarah Palin and Her Family

As we bid the fireworks goodbye, I wanted to quickly blog something I feel guilty for not writing about sooner: the cruelty and viciousness of many in the media towards Sarah Palin and her family.

The media and blogosphere are exploding with speculation about Palin’s reasons for deciding to leave office midway through her first term as Alaska’s Governor. Is it due to personal problems, some kind of scandal, or simply weariness of being the media’s punching bag, and seeing her family thus abused, not to mention the high cost of legal bills accrued defending herself from ethics complaints that have been determined baseless?

All that is speculation. What is not speculative is that Mrs. Palin and her family were very cruelly skewered beyond any reasonable level of scrutiny, largely by people who define themselves as “progressive” and “liberal” in the media.

Of course Palin was running for the second highest office in the country and deserved tough scrutiny, but what she and her family got was a wave of personal attack directed at them that, if anything, largely overshadowed any intelligent discussion of her capabilities, her record of achievement, and her policy positions. Even during the campaign the abuse directed at her and her family was over-the-top. The fact that it has continued far past the point when it could have had any benefit in defeating her as a candidate, only highlights its mean-spiritedness.

What many of Mrs. Palin’s detractors have missed is that when it came to discussing and depicting the Governor and her family as individuals, different rules applied than to President Obama and his family, for instance. To his credit, President Obama himself did not participate in this viciousness. If only many of his purported followers showed the same decency.

How dismaying it has been to see people who define themselves as “progressive” and “feminist” attacking her – not on her positions – but as “Caribou Barbie,” for example. Whatever you may think of her political views, this woman is one of this nation’s only female governors, and undeniably achieved her position through hard work and persistence. Since when is it “feminist” and “progressive” to personally attack and demean another woman by using silly details about her personal biography, such as that she competed in a beauty pageant decades ago, or to use her physical appearance as a means of denigrating her?

Most disturbing of all were the attacks and vicious ridiculing of her children. I link here to just one example among thousands. What is cruel here is not just the photo shopped image but the caption. If you can’t understand why it is cruel, the best way I can explain it is to say it mocks Palin’s courageous choice to bear and raise a disabled child.

Some are speculating that Palin is quitting as a calculated move. I doubt it, but such cynicism does not surprise me. Those who love to hate Sarah Palin dehumanized her, in their own minds, long ago.

Other armchair critics consider Sarah Palin too thin-skinned. If that is your view, ask yourself whether you would subject yourself and, more significantly, your loved ones, who have not chosen to be public figures, to endless public humiliation for the sake of advancing your career.

It may be that, in this media age, with a 24-hour-a-day news cycle and a blogosphere in which baseless personal attack has become the norm, only freaks will be comfortable subjecting themselves and their children to national public office.

At this point, it’s not clear why Governor Palin has decided to leave office. But the one possibility most of her attackers have failed to consider is this: she is a normal human being.

This entry was written by and posted on July 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm and filed under Blog.