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Of Christofascism, Natalie Portman, and Liberty
I don’t generally go out of my way to defend celebrities. They are more than equipped to defend themselves. They have access to a pulpit most of us can only dream of. So when Mike Huckabee attacked Natalie Portman for “glamorizing out of wedlock births” I thought he was a jerk but I didn’t say anything.
I was wrong.
Huckabee is a symptom of part of a larger problem, the problem of Christofascism, and it is a problem liberals like me need to address, because in failing to defend Natalie Portman I failed to defend liberty, which is at the very heart of liberalism. Not the size of government or taxes – but liberty. And Mike Huckabee’s attack on Portman is an attack on that liberty, calling for what can only be described as a Christofascist response to a free society, to the fabric of a modern liberal democracy. What people like Huckabee call moral relativism or permissiveness the rest of us call liberty – the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as out Founders framed the argument.
Huckabee is free to find his own happiness; he fails to understand that people like Natalie Portman have the same right. Christofascists fall into the trap of thinking only they have a right to seek their bliss.
As MediaMatters reported, Huckabee
said that it’s “troubling” to see people like “Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.’” Huckabee added that “it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.”
Appearing on the February 28 edition of Salem Radio’s The Michael Medved Show, Huckabee laid into Natlie Portman for daring to get pregnant without a husband:
MEDVED: Governor, I know you probably are out on book tour right now, you probably didn’t have a chance to watch the Academy Awards last night?
HUCKABEE: I’m very happy to say that I missed it because usually it’s about the most boring waste of several hours that I’ve ever experienced.
MEDVED: Well this was a – this was a low audience. However, there was – there was one moment where a very brilliant and admirable actress named Natalie Portman won Best Actress, and she won for a movie which I loathed called Black Swan. But in any event, she got up, she was very visibly pregnant, and it’s really it’s a problem because she’s about seven months pregnant, it’s her first pregnancy, and she and the baby’s father aren’t married, and before two billion people, Natalie Portman says, ‘Oh I want to thank my love and he’s given me the most wonderful gift.’ He didn’t give her the most wonderful gift, which would be a wedding ring! And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.
HUCKABEE: You know Michael, one of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.’ But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.
You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids — across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering.
MEDVED: It’s tremendously staggering.
Huckabee is now claiming he did not attack Natalie Portman or single mothers. And Bryan Fischer has gotten into the act as well, defending fellow bigot Mike Huckabee, who, as you might remember, earlier ran to Fischer to hold hands after being lambasted after an earlier episode of bigotry.
Fischer, who would like to see blasphemy laws reinstated said, “Huckabee is exactly right about Natalie Portman’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy.”
She made two poor life decisions: conceiving a child outside marriage, then celebrating it before the nation. Many young single women in America will be influenced by her example, but will not have the resources she does to address the problems they will create for themselves and their children.
Of course, like Huckabee, Fischer has the right to his morality. He has the right to believe that having children out of wedlock is a “poor life choice.” But he seems to feel that his sense of morality trumps all others.
The scourge of America right now is children growing up in single parent homes; they are six times more likely to wind up in poverty and several times more likely to wind up in jail.
I thought it was abortion. Huckabee says its abortion. Well, never mind. If you Google this, you will find claims of “twice more likely” all the way up to “twenty times more likely” so Fischer’s “six times more likely” seems to be in good company.
We can begin to change things by stopping welfare subsidies for illegitimate children. You get more of whatever you subsidize, and right now we give more money to single moms for every additional illegitimate child they bring into the world. Let’s urge them, instead of turning to taxpayers, to turn to their families, their church families, and private charities for help, just as we did from the founding of America until 1965.
Oh, so you don’t want to stop illegitimate children from being born (and I’m not talking about abortion here but contraception and sex ed) but you don’t want to pay for them after you’ve forced them to be born? I have an idea: We could refund Planned Parenthood and promote contraceptives, couldn’t we, Bryan? We could teach sex-ed, actual scientifically useful information rather than abstinence, which is proven ineffective, couldn’t we?
As pointed out in USA Today’s Faith & Reason by Cathy Grossman in relation to Mike Huckabee,
[he] doesn’t draw any connection between decimating the programs that offer family planning, pre-natal care, infant and mother nutrition and early childhood education and the poverty trap that captures so many young families, with or without wedlock.
No, he doesn’t. Nor does Fischer. But people like Huckabee and Fischer are all about extreme solutions. They don’t want scientific solutions. The Inquisition would work just fine. Bryan is fantasizing about the good old Puritan days, when women like Natalie Portman were put in stocks in the public square for their shame to be put on display:
The sign that America is recovering will be when illegitimacy is a scandal and a stigma once again, something to be ashamed of rather than parade before the public.
Because it’s okay to parade shame and bigotry in public.
And this is where the attack on liberty comes in. Fischer has the right to disapprove of Natalie Portman’s life choices. But he does not have the right to legislate his disapproval. His bigotry, born of a particular religious outlook, cannot be legislated into law. If he does not like it, he does not have to do it. But clearly, even “good Christian girls” become unwed mothers. And here is where Huckabee’s and Fischer’s hypocrisy are put on display.
Now keep in mind, neither Mike Huckabee nor Bryan Fischer have attacked Bristol Palin for the same offense. Huckabee even defended Bristol Palin. Keep in mind that Natalie Portman is a wealthy, successful, adult woman. Bristol Palin was an unemployed 17-year-old. Bristol Palin has become the poster child for abstinence for Christian conservatives, demanding huge fees for telling young women not to do what she did. Apparently, the fact that she can make a lucrative living off her own shame and appearing on Dancing with the Stars doesn’t glamorize out of wedlock sex.
But there’s a double standard, isn’t there? Here is what we were treated to with regards to Bristol’s pregnancy on FOX News, in an interview of Nancy Pfotenhauer, advisor to John McCain’s campaign, by Megyn Kelly:
I am proud that Bristol made the decision that she did facing this situation in life. And I am very proud that her parents responded with such love and support, and that she knew that there was they were the kind of parents who would respond that way. That’s nearly enough said. I mean, it’s a private personal matter.
Look at the language used: It’s a private thing, a personal matter, love and support. She argues that “common decency” should be shown by liberals and the family should be given some privacy.
None of this extends, of course, to shameful harlots like Natalie Portman. Natalie Portman should be in stocks. He probably fantasizes about them being stripped to the waist and flogged as well, like in the “good old days”. Bristol Palin, however, should be an icon and an inspiration.
It has been suggested that the real target of Mike Huckabee is not Natalie Portman but Bristol Palin, but I find this unconvincing and given his earlier defense of her he would still be a hypocrite – and a cowardly one at that – to condemn Natalie Portman but publicly defend Bristol Palin while attacking her in private or through secret codes.
As a final note I should mention that Natalie Portman is actually marrying the father of her unborn child in a few weeks. Bristol Palin, as far as anyone can tell, is still single, and still profiting handsomely from her out of wedlock birth rather than being shamed by it.