By Anonymous (not verified) on November 12, 2010

It’s not a happy birthday for Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The leading suffragist was born on Nov. 12, 1815, but her 195th birthday comes amid a concerted attack on the nation’s highest elected woman.

he despicable attempt to demean Nancy Pelosi’s achievements as the House Democratic leader and to belittle her determination to keep her leadership role shows how precarious a woman’s place in U.S. politics remains.

It was Pelosi who insisted that President Obama deliver meaningful health care reform instead of abandoning ship. It was Pelosi who got the House to pass crucial bills on jobs and global warming, which the Senate unfortunately squashed. She kept a fractious Democratic Party in line in the House, which is no small task.

No male politician with her skills and accomplishments would be treated so badly. The double standard lives on.

Stanton would applaud Pelosi’s grit and determination, in the face of ridicule, to carry on in the leadership position she has rightfully earned.

Stanton was not only among the first to call for women’s suffrage. She was the first woman candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. She firmly believed in the importance of women’s political power.

When Stanton grew up, there wasn’t only a glass ceiling; there was a “no woman allowed” sign at every door.

Despite a brilliant intellect, Stanton was barred, as a woman, from college, from a respectable career, and from the rights and duties of citizenship itself.

As a newly married abolitionist, Stanton was silenced and curtained off from participation at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention — a humiliation that opened her eyes to the civil enslavement of all women. As a disenfranchised citizen, Stanton called the ballot “the mightiest engine yet . . . for the uprooting of ignorance, tyranny, superstition, the overturning of thrones, altars, kings, popes, despotisms, monarchies and empires.”

Even some friends castigated her when she had the temerity to insist that suffrage be part of the plank of the first women’s rights convention in 1848. The press, the clergy and representatives of polite society piled on.

Stanton later recalled “how the Bible was hurled at us from every side” by critics citing scripture and verse to gag “uppity” women. And the very women’s movement she had co-founded scorned her for writing “The Woman’s Bible,” which criticized religion and fearlessly urging women to replace superstition and belief with “science and reason.”

But Stanton never backed down. Neither should Pelosi.

Annie Laurie Gaylor is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., and is editor of the newspaper Freethought Today and the anthology, “Women Without Superstition: No Gods - No Masters.” She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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