EdgeWise 27.3.2004


Uneasy about Condoleezza Rice and Bad Women

I feel pretty uneasy about prominent women who are excoriated in the media, even when they're obvious criminals. I wonder whether special hatred is reserved for uppity women, and how much a woman's healthy disregard for societies' place for women can explain how some women unhealthily reject other behavioral restraints, such as ethical ones.

Morals are a luxury that the poor and the oppressed can rarely afford. I don't mean that poor people doing wrong is in any way right, just that survival takes precedence over questions of right and wrong. I also don't mean that women and minorities get a free pass on unethical, criminal behavior, especially when their survival (or well-being) is not in question. However, the statistics are clear that women and minorities are both punished more harshly for the same crimes, and that they have less opportunities for success within the rules. I can understand how someone like that would come to chafe at all restraints to personal success, and choose to gamble that she wouldn't get caught. It still makes me uncomfortable to see this play out.

For anecdotal instance, the zeal with which Martha Stewart was prosecuted and the glee of the publicity seems outsized compared to more harmful male executives. I don't only mean Enron and Worldcom, but Wang and Tyson (or was it Tyco?) and all the rest that have gotten scant attention or punishment.

Recently, Condoleezza Rice is foremost on my mind. She's distinguished herself of late by making outrageous lies in a lame effort to defend the administration's conduct before and after September 11th. Her efforts have been so inept, that I half-suspect she is purposefully setting herself up as a willing scapegoat for later consequences to shield someone or someones above her. How else could she not have been far more circumspect of late if her loyalty didn't exceed even her personal ambitions? Her lies are too obvious and artless for someone with her intelligence, and the time and resources to develop more convincing (or at least less personally damning) statements.

Regardless, she's just a shill, and not the architect of the obsession with Iraq, nor the person who decided to redirect efforts away from terrorism, and probably not the person who constructed the lies she is currently retelling. Condi is just aiding and abetting the cover-up, and potentially willing to take the fall for the person who is really responsible for enabling September 11th and taking us into Iraq. Whether that is Cheney, Bush, or a combination is still unclear. However, why does Condi get the bad press and Cheney come smelling of roses? Her glower is more appealing than his sneer, even on TV. I suspect her transgressions are much smaller than his. That's why, as much as I dislike this administration, I am very uneasy about Condoleezza's treatment and eventual fate. I think I've read how this story ends before.

Am I wrong to cut a woman (especially a black woman) extra slack? Am I wrong to be less angry at lies to cover-up something (distraction from al-Qaeda that tragically led to Sept. 11th) afterwards than in lies designed to cause something (invasion of Iraq)? Less people died in September 11th than have in Iraq, but I don't even know if that matters. I'm pretty torn up about this and would appreciate thoughts, as I don't have a clear sense of what to think.
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