Bristol Palin and Family Values

March 14, 2009 · Leave a Comment

Bristol Palin is a teenager who now finds herself in a difficult unplanned situation. She’s a single teenage mom. She doesn’t deserve to be getting as much press attention as she is. She needs to have safe space with loving supportive family and friends as she navigates the difficult path to growing up while raising a baby. We wish her the best.

Here’s why it’s relevant – and fair – to talk about her situation at all.  Because her mother Sarah Palin brought it up.  Sarah of the abstinence only sex education.   Sarah of the “real America” has “real American” rural white heartland God-lovin’ gun-shootin’ Bush-votin’ values.  Sarah who shouts for all to hear “look at my superior family values.”  Sarah who thinks that gays are “destroying the very foundations of society.”

“Values politics” was created by the Republican party as a way to try to keep fundamentalist, evangelical and pentecostal Christians happy and in the party tent.  It was and is a codeword for those to whom it was meant to appeal without being so transparently divisive and off-putting to the majority of those whom it was meant to exclude or condemn.

The “values” arguments usually go something like this:

America was founded as a God-fearing Christian nation.  Our rich wonderful beautiful history and culture was that of thrift, hard-work, monogamy, church-attendance, strong morality which resulted in people of superior character.  But then all these weird people either (a) got their freedom (blacks), (b) moved here – sometimes “illegally”, (c) came out of the clost – and these new influences have simply ruined the Garden of Eden.  These people with their other languages, their different beliefs, their sexual freedom, their irresponsibility.  That’s the source of all of our problems.  If only we could keep our borders closed, force the gays back into the closet, legislate morality – we could return to that once idyllic promised land.  And God in heaven would smile, prosperity would return, and all things wrong in the world would be good again.

The unstated appeal to those who cling to it is that this patently false mythological past is also primarily white.   Certainly the appeal of such a vision, even though based on a multitude of falsehoods about the past and the present, can be understood for those whose self-righteousness is exceeded only by their own self-delusion.  But it’s simply false.

And that’s why Bristol Palin is relevant.  The “Values Politics” of Sarah Palin are stripped naked in the face of the realities of a young girl living life under the roof of someone espousing such rhetoric.

Leave the girl alone, but reject with prejudice (irony fully intended) the false and harmful Values Politics of her mother, Sarah Palin.

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