She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless November 21, 2010

Befuddled. Discombobulated. I just don’t get it. If you understand this better than I do,  please chime in.

This week I put up a post about She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless. To be honest, I didn’t think anything of it. I write stuff all the time. Commentary. Books. Interviews. I’ve written hundred and hundreds of articles and essays. I’ve written a lot about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve written a fair share about the war in Vietnam. I’ve written about homeless people and the issue of homelessness in America. I’ve written about our greed and our economy, about our children, about preachers, good and bad. I write a lot about God, and the walking out of my faith. I’ve written about friends and friendship and small-town life. I’ve written about death and grief and PTSD. I’ve written about sex, about the rise of porn among women, about abortion and about adoption.   But of the hundreds and hundreds of essays I’ve blogged, none have ellicited the kind of response I received this week when I wrote about She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless.

And I wasn’t really writing about her. I was holding up a mirror and saying, Look at how foolish we are that this is what matters to us.

If anything, the response I received only validates what I was saying to begin with — This is what we care about Americans? This?

People didn’t flood my inbox when I posted a week of stories about war widows. People didn’t rise up to protest  the injustices inflicted upon these young families. When I write about the homeless only those who are already tender-hearted or already working with the homeless chime in. When I write about corruption or greed and the exploitation of the innocent people yawn and think to themselves, I wish she’d go back to being funny.

Good friends wrote to me privately this week and chided me. Friends I knew in a previous life wrote to tell me how arrogant, how mean, how ugly I am. These are people who have never once responded when I’ve written about the things most tender to my heart. You are full of yourself, they said. You are a bore, they said. You need therapy.

They might be right about that last remark. I could use some help in deciphering how come it is that I can write about things that really matter — like war and death, like corruption and greed — and the only thing the riles people up is when I write about their favorite TV personality?

Yes. At the very least I could use a week at some remote beach house.

I have been pondering this, trying to figure out what makes She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless so divisive. I am not at all sure I’m right about this, so like I said when I started, feel free to offer your own analysis.

I turned to the web to find out what research is saying about what divides us as a people. Not surprisingly it came down to money and an ‘us” and “them” mentality. The Pew Center conducted a poll about What Divides America? and found that the two things dividing our country right now is income and immigration. The rich vs. the poor. The documented against the undocumented.

Yes. There are still people who believe that President Obama is undocumented. A Muslim come to destroy our country from the inside out (like we aren’t doing a good enough job of that ourselves).

Of course, what did She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless choose as her brand? Patriotism.

In her new book, which shall also remain nameless, America’s Brand plays to the fears of millions when she calls into question Michelle Obama’s statement about being a proud American: 

 “I guess this shouldn’t surprise us, since both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church listening to his rants against America and white people.”

I think it’s important to note that the town in which America’s Brand is raising her children is predominatly white. 85.5 percent white. Only .59 Black or African American, 5 percent Native American, 1 percent Asian, and only 3 percent Hispanic.  This is a trend reflected state-wide. Alaska’s white population hovers at about 68 percent. Hispanics and Blacks are at about 4 percent each.

That might give some insight on why border control is one of her primary talking points.

In regards to the rich versus the poor that the Pew Research mentions as a dividing factor, She-Who-Remains-Nameless has made an estimated $12 million since she dumped her day job.  That’s certainly lands her on the rich side of the equation, particularly in a town where the average annual income is $48,000. I don’t think that includes the oil kickbacks.  Although to hear her tell it, as she explains in her latest book, her decision to quit on Alaskans had nothing to do with money and everything to do with her brand — America:

Had I listened to those who suggested it would be political suicide to hand the Governor’s reigns over to my lieutenant governor entering my lame duck last year in office — a choice I made so that I could fight for Alaska, and America, more effectively in a different venue — then my state would have suffered from the obstruction and paralysis of my office by the politically motivated attacks that began the day I was announced as the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008.

Had I listened to the politicos (even some within my own political action committee) and shied away from endorsing candidates I knew were best for America — people such as Susana Martinez, Nikki Haley, Doug Hoffman, Joe Miller and Karen Handel — I wouldn’t have been using my position in the best interests of the country I love.

So exactly why is She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless able to divide friends and evoke such passion in an otherwise disengaged and disenfranchised population?

She plays to our fears.

That’s what I think.

But then I am part of that godless liberal media that She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless writes so disturbingly about in her new book: 

“Most of those who write for the mainstream media and teach at universities and law schools don’t share the religious faith of their fellow Americans. They seem to regard people who believe in God and regularly attend their church or synagogue as alien beings, people who are “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command,” as the Washington Post once famously put it.”

Where does she get this stuff?

This is nothing more than sophistry. A blatant outrageous claim designed to whip up the emotions of the masses. She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless stops short of calling educated people children of Satan but her intended audience will be frothing at the mouth. These are the same people who worship at the altar of Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck.

There is at least one analysis in America’s Brand’s newest book that I agree with:

“There is a narcissism in our leaders in Washington today,” she writes. “There’s a quasi-religious feeling to the message coming from them.”

Plato warned us that this particular rhetoric would be most effective in Democratic politics. When you let the majority decide, then you’ve given a great opportunity for your sophistic techniques to give power to those who can best manipulate the masses, rather than turning power over to those who really can manage and run good government. Plato warned us to be very careful of a person who uses rhetoric for their own narcissistic pursuits of fame, not in the search for truth.

But then Plato’s warnings didn’t win him any popularity contests either.

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  • JanetLee

    I find the attacks on the educated interesting from one who claims to be a patriot of freedom. Isn’t that the first step in setting up an oppressive non-democratic government? Kill the educated? (In this case “kill” being discredit.)

  • Debbie

    I don’t live in your country yet somehow what happens in yours affects what happens in mine. I think your writing about ‘she’ must be written Karen. Have you researched her religious background to discover what she really believes? That would make an downright dogfight of a blog :). Keep on warning the masses my friend and as for the people who fight for their favourite ‘personality’ I can only say it comes down to a generation of people who are being manipulated by what ‘she’ and her mates believe and they don’t even know it is happening. Yet you – you are another watcher – keep saying it and saying it loud! Lift the veil so some may see.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Debbie: I wish I said things like Mate. I love that. Perhaps I should come to Australia and live for six months so that I can learn a whole new lingo for writing.

  • Agreed, friend. But you already knew that.

    I think “her” lifestyle reflects a watered down Oprahtastic, Osteenesque “what makes you feel best because you deserve your best life now” kind of religion. It’s “choose your own adventure” meets “manifest destiny,” none of which actually reflects what Jesus taught. I see absolutely no sacrifice, unless it’s a lack of watching after her own house (as a good leader, male or female, does). What I see is someone whose actions betray her heart- a conceited, self-interested upper-middle class suburbanite white lady who may actually be speaking for the vast majority of similar individuals across the country. As you said… the haves versus the have-nots.

    And once again, it all ends up being rooted in the prosperity gospel. How about that?

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Joe: Oprahtastic Osteenesque? You betcha. Wink. Starburst.

  • How dare you bring this up again! Attacking all that is good, wholesome, white and American. Are you kidding me? You go parading around into our societies’ comfort zone with hatchet in hand hacking and attacking. How dare you make us think and shift in our comfortable, plsuh computer chairs and warm homes! I mean geez! We want to be safe and secure with our big white God, beautfiul women at home, revolvers on our side and the right to pull our Hummers into any gas station of our choosing with the promise of a fill up at under $25. I can’t believe this!

  • Cassie

    Hello my friend. Now this is just my opinion.. I don’t think it’s who or what you wrote about that brought about that response. I think it was the attitude that came across in your writing. It just sounded like you were being mean and judgmental, and making fun of her. We hear so much of that stuff already, especially when it comes to politics. I do like to read your thoughts on different subjects, but I think this one particular posting had a different feel to it. I’m sure every blogger has stepped over that line at least once. We all have our opinions, and some of them are strong ones. I know I had to delete a few of my postings back in my blogging days because I wrote them when I was upset. But no worries, we still love you and still come back for more. 🙂

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      In six years of blogging I can’t recall every deleting a blog because somebody didn’t like something I said. I adhere to my writing coach’s advice — ignore all flattery and all criticisms and just keep writing.
      Served me well thus far.

  • Cassie

    P.S. I love the cartoon!

  • Scott Eaton

    I love She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless…until she starts talking. Something like nails on a chalkboard comes to mind. Most of my friends can’t understand why I feel this way. I can’t understand why they don’t.

  • jaz

    She who would tell the truth should keep one foot in the stirrup…

    – A proverb that’s as old as history

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I haven’t heard this one before but I can assure you I ain’t never going to forget it.

  • Karen, this piece contains some assertions I am sure you think are factual, but I disagree with:

    Myth 1: the number of comments you receive on a given blog post is indicative of the level of emotion stirred up.
    Fact: I was personally just as moved by your Veteran’s Week posts about the families left behind, but didn’t post much. I don’t know that I knew what to say other than “well said, Karen”. But the Palin post, in contrast, had a tone I disagreed with, so I argued, and you said in your very first reply that you dissenting views are welcome. So while I may have posted more arguments in that one thread than in the war widows ones, I wasn’t any more emotional about one than the other. Just speaking for myself, but probably others were the same.

    Myth 2: This is about liberalism vs. conservatism.
    Fact: You brought the term liberal into this on this post. I thought I made ti clear that my problem with the previous post was with the tone. Disagree with Palin all you want, but when you just simply ridicule her, you’re contributing to the Jerrypsringerization of America. As I said in my comments there, the nature of political discourse in this country these days is saddening to me, and that’s why I opposed your post. The fact that she’s a Republican is beside the point. In fact, I called someone on the carpet recently on Facebook because of the way they were throwing out accusations about Obama. It got ugly, but I stood my ground then as I stand it now: your decision to ridicule Palin does more harm than good.

    You know I love your writing most of the time, but I’m convinced you were out of line that time. That opinion doesn’t come from emotion, or any leaning towards Palin, and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t feel for families of those who died in wars.

    • For the record, my use of the personal pronoun “I” in this comment doesn’t mean I think Karen was responding to me personally. Several people took issue with her Palin post. I commented here because I probably posted more in that thread than anyone else. I’m not so paranoid that I think everything is about me. Really. 😉

  • A British churchman by the name of Tarney once stated, “The church that ceases to think ceases to count.” (I’m still looking for a hard reference so I can attribute this quote properly. I heard it stated by Dr. Murdo McDonald, at the time the Chair of Practical Theology at Glasgow University–and a WWII combat vet also).

    I find truth in Mr. Tarney’s words. I think its corrollary is “The nation that ceases to think ceases to count.”

    Meanwhile,do have a read of Nick Kristof here and see what you think:

    I sure hope we like banana bread, ‘cuz we’s sure makin’ us a good ole banana republic here in USA. While the bananas ripen, I’m sending you two books by Robert Farrar Capon (Zondervan, Eerdmans ’85 and ’88) on the parables of Jesus. You may hear a Jesus you have not heard before and have been waiting to hear. This Jesus sounds very different from so much of what is said and done in his name and by his unthinking bride, the church.

  • You speak the truth, Karen. She does not. Sadly, William Golding was right when he wrote that 90% of the population never thinks at all: “I no longer dismiss lightly a mental process which for 9/10 of the population is the nearest they will ever get to thought. They have immense solidarity … we are outnumbered and surrounded.” He goes on to say that they will not thank you for pointing out the contradictions in their beliefs and that they enjoy agreement as cows will graze all the same way on the side of a hill. My only hope is that she enjoys being a pop culture icon so much that she won’t try to do anything that requires intelligence, taste, or ethics.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Someone else pointed out to me that She-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless has to 1) lead the public on about her bid for the presidency 2)or run. Because if she says she ain’t running her 15 minutes of fame is over. She’s bilking it.

  • Nope. It’s not about HER, not at all. At least not to me.

    This week a friend of mine said something about “Michelle Obama’s fat ol’ communist butt…” and…hearing her say that made me lose a level of respect for her. It was out of character. It was mean. It was a personal slam. It was unfair.

    That’s what your piece was, too.