Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hillary in the Congo: Why Is Her Anger Questioned?

Before I go any further, I think you should know that it's now reported that the media got it wrong saying the student's question to Hillary in the Congo was mistranslated. He really did ask for Bill Clinton's opinion instead of the opinion of the sitting Secretary of State before him, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Does that make a difference in the Hillary is angry debate?

You may have seen news about a "testy" Hillary Clinton speaking in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, August 10. The African country is known for violence against women:
The unscripted moment happened as Clinton spoke to students at a Congolese university in Kinshasa, the Congo capital.

A male student rose to ask a question about Chinese financial contracts with Congo.

The student asked Clinton what President Obama would think of the deal, but pool reporters in the room said the translator made a mistake, posing the question as what would Bill Clinton think.

Clinton looked surprised when she first heard the translation in the headset, and then sharply replied, "You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state, I am. You ask my opinion. I will tell you my opinion; I'm not going to channel my husband." (CNN)
In the MSM and the blogsphere, Clinton's reaction to the question has drawn more attention than why she was in the Congo at all, which was to address violence against women and other conflict in the Congo.

Naturally, Fox News has used the Secretary of State's reaction to suggest she's unqualified for her position. Hmm.

What I noticed is that the media, and not necessarily only right-wing leaning media, as well as ordinary citizens are doing the same thing to Hillary that they do to other minorities. Hillary's not allowed to show anger. That's all I heard Monday night after the story broke, the question, "Why is Hillary so angry?" (Yes, females, while a majority, are treated as second-class citizens, making them like a minority.)

It's the charge against Sonia Sotomayor, who shows little testiness, and so her critics talk about her writing when they call her angry. It was the primary charge against Henry Louis Gates, "Why is he so angry? Look at how successful he is?"

There seems to be this idea that if a group has been oppressed and anything happens to them that reminds them of that oppression, they're expected to sit back, count to 10, and be very nice about the whole thing. They're supposed to give the group that historically oppressed them the benefit of the doubt that what's being done or asked of them now has nothing to do with attitudes of the past even if the past was just yesterday.

Our society is very similar to a bully culture, in my opinion. They beat the hell out of you but you're supposed to let bygones be bygones the first time they let you sit at the cool kids table and not wince when members of the old cool guard raise their hands in ways that look like slapping gestures. You're supposed to forget that it was the principal who made the cool kids let you sit at their table and ignore that they don't think you're cool in any real sense.

While I think James Carville, Democratic political strategist and good friend of the Clintons, appears to grasp at straws when defending Hillary, he made an excellent point Tuesday night on Larry King Live with Wolf Blitzer, one that was getting lost. He told Blitzer that Hillary was speaking to a group in a country that has a long history of brutality against women, including female mutilation and said we should keep that in mind.

Ben Stein, former speech writer to Nixon, also a guest on the show, added that jet lag might make anyone testy and reminded viewers that Henry Gates's encounter with the Cambridge Police happened after he came off a long flight. Penn of Penn and Teller, a Libertarian and another of the evening's pundits, said Hillary was right but "frightening."

While the men concluded she was right in her response as she understood the question, I observed that it was an all-male panel that shrugged, chuckled and perhaps winced, searching for ways to excuse what's been called an "angry outburst." The joke was she should have smiled and asked, "What am I, chopped liver?"

That the question was reportedly mistranslated is beside the point. You can only respond to what you think you've been asked. However, have you read what "The Lede" of the New York Times reported today?

Robert Mackey asserts that the question was not mistranslated, that the student actually did ask Hillary Clinton to tell him Bill Clinton's thoughts.
In the video of the event embedded below, from Britain’s Channel 4 News, Mrs. Clinton can be seen listening and then responding to a simultaneous translation as the student asked: “We’ve all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country — the interferences from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton, and what does Mr. Mutumbo think on this situation?” ... (The Lede)
The piece continues to say that reporters who were present at the event confirmed the student asked for former president Bill Clinton's opinion not President Barack Obama's opinion as has been reported in mainstream media here in the states.

I add, as others have, that Bill Clinton's success in North Korea has been prominent in the news lately. In the Congo, a nation that makes the paradigm of male dominance palpable, Hillary may have been reminded of the stinging accusations she faced on the campaign trail as she ran for the presidency. Her critics frequently suggested that she's done nothing with her life but follow Bill, that she's where she is not because of her intellect or hard work but because of her husband. Such commentary is like the statement "You're only here because of Affirmative Action" with a shot of patriarchy as chaser.

Society likes to blame people who have chips on their shoulders as though society exist in a vacuum of imaginary chips.


Reggie said...

Well I guess there is such a thing as an angry white woman too!!!

Lola Gets said...

I think her response was valid! SHE is the one who was appointed, not him; shes the one running things! Ok, perhaps it was a wee bit mean, but hey, she was probably sleep deprived, lol. I woulda done the same thing.


OSTerizer said...

Of course it is not just the right wing leaning media...does anyone recall the 2008 election? She is the greatest and strongest fighter

Laura Roberts said...

I don't find Hillary's response "angry" at all. She's not threatening, she's not yelling, but yes, she is clearly annoyed. I would be too, if someone asked me what my husband thought about something, when he wasn't even in the room. I mean, it's one thing to ask Hillary what Obama thinks; he's her boss and the President of the United States. But what does Bill Clinton have to do with anything here? Exactly nothing. So the question is rude, offensive, off-topic and totally inappropriate. She could've said something much more harsh to this idiot, but she didn't, and that proves that she has class--unlike many of her critics.

Unknown said...

Excellent excellent post

Cotton Candy said...

Hillary's "Rumble in the Jungle". A "smack-down" from ol' cranky pants suit.

I find it incredulous that she would subjectively stick her undiplomatic foot in her mouth so publicly as she did in the Congo with her knee-jerk, arrogant and combative response to the mis-interpreted/mis-worded question concerning Obama's "thoughts", ....not Bill's.

Not only did she internationally reaffirm this country's perceived reputation of impatient self-righteous arrogance but she also created the impression that American women are "cocked & loaded". Her reaction would have been more befitting an invitation to a female genital mutilation festivity.

She needs to remember that the world is accommodating HER and HER English language (mono-language). That is, in fact, an honor! She should be gracious with some class, have a bit more patience and ask for clarification before popping off with such irresponsible tirades or before the bareing and knashing of teeth. She only makes herself and the US look small and PRIMITIVE with such behavior.

Please, Hillary, get some rest before you "represent" "us"!

Vérité Parlant said...

Cotton, she didn't stick her foot in her mouth, and she didn't need clarification. The man's question was not mistranslated. Based on her reason for being int he Congo, violence against women, Hillary was right.