Thursday, May 8, 2008

Barbara Walters – Greed and Sexism

So Barbara did another press junket for her new book. This time on her own station with people she knows (and can presumably control in some form).

Interesting highlights:

1) She only now feels financially secure, at 79, after making what I believe is close to $100 million (she was making $1 million a year by 1976 and has made huge profits from The View for 11 years)

Issue #1:
To only feel financially secure after making close to $100 million belies a dependence on and assumption of an extravagant lifestyle. I think the average person would feel pretty secure after making $1-2 million. Even in NYC, most wealthy people I know have a goal of $10 million to kick back and enjoy.

Which says to me she is kind of greedy and believes that lots of money (beyond basic sustenance) is necessary and good. The need to make $100 million to feel financially secure is kind of greedy and ignorant. Yeah, everyone has the right to make money. But I have to agree with, of all people, the Pope (?!?!) that excessive wealth is a crime against humanity. The need for excessive wealth can only be ascribed to greed, willful ignorance and absence of empathy for other people. It says to me she is an overly pampered celebrity who doesn't realize how much she has been given and has no clue how normal people struggle just to pay the rent and get food on the table.

The Republican assumption that we as a society are better off taking care of our individual interests is, to me, the essence of evil. I reject the extreme individualist philosophy of Ayn Rand (“The Foutainhead”). Capitalism without socialism is evil. As is socialism without capitalism. We can’t think in black and white terms. We need to allow individual success, with limits. We need to provide a social safety net, with limits.

The accumulation of excessive wealth is, I believe, one of the great moral challenges of our era. As the top 1%-10% become increasingly wealthier beyond all rational need, the poor are starving and the middle class have to send both parents to work 60 hour weeks to maintain the lifestyle that my father provided with one working class job.

So Barbara, you’re part of the spoiled, greedy, uber-wealthy who fail to see that they have enough because they have so little understanding of or empathy for the suffering of the world and have been given encouragement by their society at large to accumulate excessive wealth without end.

# 2) All the anchor men they interviewed and the interviewer himself, Charlie Gibson, made various comments about her looks, her legs, sleeping with men to get to the top and “flirting” with interviewees.

Issue #2:
The questions and comments from the male anchors were sexist. Pure and simple. Would a woman ask a man about his love life as a primary question? Would a woman tell a man because you had a relationship with a co-worker after you were hired that you had “slept your way to the top”? Would a woman tell Sam Donaldson or Dan Rather that one of the main reasons they got to the top was because of their legs (or chest or ass)?

Feminism is dead. It is now OK to refer to the sexual characteristics of a woman as their primary asset and reason for success. Its as if Paris Hilton is the new feminist role model and female sex appeal is the only weapon available to make it to the top.

Hillary Clinton is the perfect example. It amazes me the vitriol directed towards her for displaying characteristics inherent in any male politician. And what’s amazing is how women are part of it. Like Muslim women, they seem content to be criticized, downplayed and marginalized and to attack their own for not being feminine enough (i.e., Maureen Dowd). The comments include “she looks old”, she’s cagey, she’s too ambitious. Um, the Republican is McCain who is 73 going on 80. Do we really think politicians are direct and honest people (Bulworth was a movie)? Has any President ever not been too ambitious (OK, maybe Bush 2)?

Yeah, yeah – I know its PC. But political correctness is Republican wordplay for empathy and mutual respect. In the past 15 years, the attack on any sensitivity to others has been relentless and blind. Its as if the whole country has taken desensitivity training. Maybe its my Quaker education, but it seems to me that “political correctness” is a noble goal in that it strives for understanding, respect and empathy for others’ struggles

So Barbara, you’ve just shown the world that we’re not that different from the Muslim world, except instead of forcing women to dress up in a hijab, we insist on a short skirt and low cut blouse.

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