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Santorum - The Phantom Menace!

08.03.2005 11:45 | DISPATCHES

Ever notice how some right-wing pundits (and to be fair, some left-wing pundits) cast aspersions on entire groups by attributing statements to them that were seemingly made by no individual? Christopher Hitchens is rather notorious for this, blaming various pro-terrorist sentiments on members of "the Left", and if witnesses can be believed, at a debate in New York about dissent he made some libelous statement to the effect that people "on the left" think flying airplanes into buildings is a worthy form of dissent. When he was challenged by moderator Lewis Lapham, to name these people, he of course could not.

Another champion of the art is Senator Rick Santorum, who manages in his interview with George Stephanopoulous about his new book, to blame America's social ills on "radical feminists," the "Hollywood elite," "academia" and "the media." But to paraphrase Lewis Lapham, who are these people? Rick Santorum doesn't know. He only knows they're out there, and they are doing great harm.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about something else in the book, radical feminists. A second quote from the book, you say, Respect for stay-at-home mothers has been poisoned by a toxic combination of the village elders' war on the traditional family and radical feminism's mysogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect. Let's get specific here. Name one or two of these radical feminists who are on this crusade. SANTORUM: Well, I mean, you know, you have -- you go back to, what's her name, well, Gloria Steinem, but I'm trying to remember -- I can't remember the woman's name. It's terrible. Anyway...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's kind of an important point. Because you paint this broad brush: radical feminists, village elders. Name one.

SANTORUM: There's lots of -- no, there's lot's of -- well, Gloria Steinem. There's one. I mean, there's lots of writings out there...

STEPHANOPOULOS: She's been on a crusade against stay-at-home moms?

SANTORUM: There's lots of writings out there, and there is an opinion by the elite in this country across academia, across the media, that stay-at-home motherhood is not adequately affirmed and respected by our society.

SANTORUM: And if you don't believe that, get a panel of stay-at- home moms here on your show, and you ask them whether they feel affirmed by society, whether they feel affirmed by the culture.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Listen, I can go home. My wife Wendy both works and stays at home at various times. And sometimes, when she's not working, you know, she gets upset, but it's not some message that's being driven by...

SANTORUM: Isn't it?

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... specific people.

SANTORUM: Isn't it a message for us? I mean, where does this come from? Does this come from the ether?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I'm asking you. Where are these radical feminists?

SANTORUM: It comes from an elite culture, dictated, again, from academia, dictated, again, from the Hollywood culture and the news media, that says, the only thing that's affirming, the only thing that really counts is what you do at work.

Sad, really. The man wrote an entire book assailing these crimes and cannot specifically identify any of the criminals. I think this tells us more about Santorum's book than it does about our supposedly degenerating society. Rick should stop worrying about radical feminists and hire a research assistant.


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