I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Midge Decter: The Mother Sheehan of the Right

A couple of months ago, a Daily Kos diarist wrote a post urging his fellow anti-war activists to refer to Cindy Sheehan only with the creepy, cult-like title of "Mother Sheehan." His reasoning was almost as disturbing as the suggestion itself:

She is not a person now, she is a mother, which is not an expression of her individuality, but rather the expression of her eternal character: the mother, the bringer of life who has been wronged by state power.

Unsurprisingly, this post was the source of much derision on the Right, where she is still invariably referred to by that title.

It seems, though, that trying to bestow onto a political figure some sainted Mother image is ridiculous and funny only when someone on the Left does it. When the Right does it, it is profoundly moving and insightful.

Bruce Kesler over at Democracy Project has written a Thanksgiving love letter to neoconservative mistress Midge Decter, entitled "Thanksgiving for Midge Decter: Thanks Mom." Kesler shows that he is quite serious about considering Midge his mother, and really lays on the motherhood dribble much thicker than anyone ever did for Mother Sheehan:

Unbeknownst to Midge Decter, until last year, although having children of her own to raise, she has been my spiritual mother since I was 20. Midge Decter’s writings, on the nexus of culture and politics, the guide of the values we have at home to those we practice in the world, are rooted in the life experiences and concerns of a Jewish mother for the survival and success of her family. America is Midge Decter’s extended family. . . .

It was then, through a mutual friend I was graced to meet during the campaign, that I sent Midge Decter an email about her quote from 1968 and its effect on my life. She responded, overgraciously, but only as a proud mother can, that my contribution saved the country. A son was never prouder. . . .

Midge Decter felt responsible for what had happened to America, as only a mother can . . .

In May 2004, Midge Decter updated her maternal reflections . . .

This mother of sense, mine for almost 40-years, now extends her apron of motherly blessing and lessons to the next generation of America’s defenders. Just as those who served extend our faith, solidarity and hands to them.

With Midge Decter as their spiritual mother, a latter day lady of liberty, how can they go wrong! Thanks Mom.

Really, this borders on the disturbed. At least the Kos diarist wanted to use the "Mother Sheehan" title as a symbol. Kesler appears to have really come to think of Decter as his mom.

And what does the Right think of this emotionally twisted transformation of a political activist into a symbol of surrogate Motherhood? They must be mocking and scorning it the way they did when the Daily Kos diarist did the same thing to Cindy Sheehan, right?

Uh, no. They are celebrating and even drippily expounding upon Kesler's love note, and are recommending it to all.

I am sure that Mother Decter is very proud to have so many adoring, grateful little neocon boys who are appropriately appreciative of everything their mother did for them. What Mother wouldn't be?

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