a kind of awesome list

Just saw the list of recipients for the 2009 Medal of Freedom.

One of the first thoughts I had upon reading it was, somewhere in America, there are people frothing at the mouth because only three out of sixteen are straight white men. (And of those three, one is physically disabled and one is a pillar of liberal American politics. I don’t imagine the people frothing think much of either of those guys.)

[Edited to add: I should have made it clearer in the first instance that the people I imagine are frothing at the mouth are not the entirety of conservatives. I’m talking about the birthers, the Sarah Palin worshippers, the Rush Limbaugh goons and the Freepers, and the rest of the wingnutty base. I honestly think it’s a shame that they have become the vocal face of American conservatism, because they’re doing their best to turn it into the party of racist reactionaries, and that’s an opposition I simply cannot respect.]

Six are women. Three are black. Two are Hispanic. One is Native American. One is Bangladeshi. One is Jewish (at least one — I didn’t check religion). Two are open gays. There are foreigners and the aforementioned disabled guy. Out of sixteen, only Jack Kemp belongs to the core Republican demographic.

And you know what? It warms the cockles of my heart to know that conservative bloggers are probably already bitching about this “affirmative action” list. I want them to be unhappy, because the list they would be happy with is not a list I want to see.

(Not actually true. What I really want is for even conservative bloggers to celebrate diversity. That would be far better than the ongoing fight with people who think the only “real Americans” are the straight white Christian ones. But until we have that, I’ll enjoy this.)

I’d be curious to know how the ratios compare to Bush’s picks, but honestly, I’m too lazy to sort through demographic info for eighty-one more people. At a glance, it looks more white male to me — but it’s hard to tell from just names, and I’m inclined to assume that interpretation anyway, so my glance is admittedly not a good basis for evaluation. Even if Obama’s choices over the next few years aren’t more diverse, people are going to view them that way, because the guy making those choices is black, and so of course he’s probably rewarding all kinds of undeserving minorities while ignoring the achievements of the Great White Male. Right?


I’d rather focus on the good. Like, now I’m really interested to read more about and by Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow. He sounds awesome — and I’m not just saying that because he’s an anthropologist. <g>

0 Responses to “a kind of awesome list”

  1. scribble_myname

    There are plenty of conservatives that are not all about “real Americans” being white Christian males. I’m a Hispanic (and just about everything else, including Native American), Bible-believing woman that does not go to a typical church or have any affiliation that while conservative, doesn’t have much of a problem with Democrats or anyone else that loves our country, and have relatives that are Caucasian, Black, and everything else. So we’re conservative. Big deal. Our list would not be as nondiverse as you might think.

    I’ve always believed that people should not be judged on the color of their skin or even their belief system (think 1st ammendment here), but ONLY on their qualifications for the job and their character insomuch as it affects their ability to perform that job ethically.

    • Marie Brennan

      Please see my update in the post. My phrasing didn’t make it clear enough that I’m talking about a particular type of conservative, not all of them, and for that I apologize.

  2. dungeonwriter

    Honestly, as conservative as I am, it’s hard to argue that regardless of skin color, most of those people deserve it.

    Nancy Goodman Brinker-Breast cancer research? Please, I dare anyone, argue with that!

    Sandra Day O’Connor-First woman on the supreme court, who rose to power despite law firms being unwilling to fire her.

    Not a major fan of Desmond Tutu due to his stance on Israel, but I can’t deny he deserves an award for his work against Apartheid.

    But instead of going through the list, I’ll put it this way. If you go through the 372, you’d see the list was pretty diverse before Obama’s picks. So while many of his picks are ground breaking, saying he’s being “affirmative action” makes one look at the list and say “nope, that’s business as usual, Americans do look diverse.”

    • Marie Brennan

      Please see my update in the post. My phrasing didn’t make it clear enough that I’m talking about a particular type of conservative, not all of them, and for that I apologize.

      As for your statement that it’s hard to argue . . . so after making that post, I figured I should at least try to see if I was right, so held my nose and paddled around in the shallow end of Free Republic for a little while. It may be hard to argue, but oh boy howdy are they giving it their best shot. According to the Freepers, this is a list of ultra-left-wing homosexualist baby-killing freedom-stealing horrors. No really. Every last one of those accusations is directly from a Free Republic post. I didn’t see much in the way of directly racist comments, but the news was also fresh enough that most of the posts there were just regurgitations of press releases, with maybe a line or two of commentary. But they are definitely unhappy with it.

      • dungeonwriter

        Not a problem, I love your writing so I wasn’t offended.

        And yeah, I really have to say, all of the people on the list deserve to be there and that’s the sad thing, they’re wasting space yelling about an arbitrary list.

        If we asked you to pick the recipients, we’d get a completely different list. If we asked me, you’d get a pretty heavily Jewish list, because I’m actively involved in Jewish affairs and a lot of the people I admire happen to be in the same field. If you asked Pat Robertson, you’d get a heavily white Christian list. So Obama’s list is pretty diverse…it just means he has a wide range of diverse people he admires.

        Seriously, we conservatives need better things to be upset about.

        • Marie Brennan

          I’m glad you weren’t offended — but it’s important to me that I be careful with all of my writing, whether it’s a novel or an LJ post.

          I have no idea who I’d put on a list for the Medal of Freedom. In fact, I feel supremely unqualified to make that decision.

  3. scribble_myname

    Like your points. Hope I didn’t come off too strong. I try not to, especially with how ugly talking politics can get. I always love your posts, even if I don’t always comment. 🙂

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