Joel Pett, the editorial cartoonist at the Lexington Herald-Leader, chose to celebrate National Adoption Month this week by using the children of Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin as “mere props” to mock Bevin’s stance on Syrian refugees.
Bevin has said that when he takes office, he will work to keep Syrian refugees out of the Bluegrass State. That stance, one echoed by dozens of governors, didn’t please Pett so he attacked by drawing pictures of Bevin’s Ethiopian children into a cartoon. The strip depicts Bevin hiding under his desk, with an aide holding a family photo and saying: “Sir they’re not terrorists. … They’re your own adopted kids.”
As a journalist and vocal proponent of free speech, I give editorial cartoonists wide latitude for using mockery to make a point. But as an adoptive parent, I can’t let this tasteless jab go without engaging in some free speech of my own: The cartoon is despicable; Pett is obnoxious for drawing it; and the newspaper is tone deaf for publishing it as the country celebrates adoption.
Pett sounds petty when he says Bevin started it by using his children in campaign commercials first. He sounds arrogant when he says he has endured “little controversies” like the outcry over the cartoon for 30 years and scolds Bevin for rising to the bait. And Pett plays the hypocrite when he accuses the critics of Syrian refugee policy of demagoguery even as he engages in it himself.
The Herald-Leader is equally hypocritical for publishing a cartoon that uses a politician’s children as pawns. Journalists rightly raise questions when the children of Democrats are the targets of such attacks. Remember, this time last year an obscure Republican aide was driven from her job on Capitol Hill after mocking Sasha and Malia Obama. But let a Republican win a key race like Bevin did two weeks ago and suddenly his children are no longer off limits.
Bevin missed the mark in his reaction to the cartoon. Without any supporting evidence, he accused Pett of holding to a “deplorably racist ideology” and the newspaper of allowing “overt racism” into its pages. (It’s worth noting that editorial-page editor Vanessa Gallman, who approved the cartoon and said she “did not see in it the issue of race that Bevin has raised,” is black.)
But Pett and the newspaper crossed a line they shouldn’t have. Shame on them.
P.S. I have no reason to believe that Pett actually hates adopted kids, but he’s clearly a big fan of distorting people’s true opinions. I figured he would appreciate the headline.
Full disclosure: Several years ago I interviewed for a job as an editorial columnist at the Herald-Leader. I don’t recall whether I met Pett, but I did interview with Gallman. The paper offered the columnist’s job to one of its editorial writers.
Filed under: Adoption and Government and Media and News & Politics and People
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Somewhere within my heart is a song about adoption looking for a voice. I have a title for it that comes from the last paragraph of our adoption story and even drafted some lyrics several years ago.
But I’ve never been able to finish the song. I guess I’m a writer but not a songwriter.
John Waller, on the other hand, is a songwriter. And he tells an inspiring adoption story in “Orphan,” a song about a little girl’s quest for her “forever home.”
The song is even more powerful when you realize that little girl at the beginning and end of the video is Waller’s adopted daughter, and the people who play the parents are his sister and brother-in-law.
I hope someday I can find the words to pen our adoption story in lyrics, but for now, I’ll just listen to John Waller’s and appreciate all of the parents and children who found each other through adoption. “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).
Filed under: Adoption and Family and Music and Video
Some days I’m more proud than others to be a West Virginia boy and a West Virginia University alum. Today, as mournful Mountaineers remember former WVU football coach Bill Stewart, is one of those days.
Stewart died on a West Virginia golf course this afternoon while playing in a charity tournament with Ed Pastilong, the former WVU athletic director who took a chance and hired Stewart as head coach in 2008. At age 59, he was much too young.
Mountaineers have spent the past several hours filling their corner of the Internet with tributes to Stewart. The most popular is Stewart’s “Leave No Doubt” speech, which inspired a Mountaineers team rocked by the cowardly betrayal of Rich (Gotta Get Richer) Rodriguez to an upset victory in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl:
This photo also has been saturating my Facebook feed:
But this clip really captures the blue-and-gold enthusiasm that all Mountaineers loved about Bill Stewart, even those fans who didn’t think he was a great coach:
Two quotes from the Associated Press story linked above add context to that clip:
Everybody could see it, including non-West Virginian sports writers like ESPN’s Brian Bennett, who today explained why Stewart’s legacy at WVU is more than wins and losses:
As Bennett said at the end of his touching essay, “There was no head coach like Bill Stewart, and there weren’t many people quite like him, either.”
Filed under: Adoption and Business and Culture and Human Interest and Media and News & Politics and People and Sports and Video and West Virginia
Go to the BuzzFeed Politics page and behold an orchestrated media feeding frenzy in progress. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is the target. He has been rising in the polls, and BuzzFeed won’t allow it.
Three of the current top five pieces on the site are attacks on Santorum, and the hit pieces continue as you scroll further down the site or look at the “Most Viral in Politics” sidebar. Here are the headlines:
And then there’s the piece lamenting the fact that no matter how many presumably outrageous Santorum quotes BuzzFeed and other publications unearth, the new frontrunner is “gaffe-proof.”
Reading BuzzFeed these days is like reading transcriptions of the opposition research compiled by either his top GOP rival, Mitt Romney, or the Democratic National Committee — or both. I’ve rarely seen a presumably objective publication so transparently contemptuous of a candidate and so determined to drive a negative narrative about him or her.
But hey, BuzzFeed is driving traffic and generating buzz for itself. That’s all that matters in today’s “journalism,” right?
UPDATE: Rich Lowry of National Review explains what’s really stirring in the minds of journalists who keep trying to manufacture Santorum controversies.
Filed under: 1980s and Adoption and Books and Culture and Media and News & Politics and People
Well, candy fans, there’s sad news in the snack world this week. It looks like the obesity mafia organized by first lady Michelle Obama to whack all the fat and fun out of American society has put a hit on the king-size Snickers bar.
Mars, the candy company that makes Snickers and other delicious treats, has caved to the politically correct pressure of the food police. Come 2013, the company will stop selling candy bars that include more than 220 calories.
Forget the free-market principle of supply and demand that says if customers want giant candy bars, Mars will make them. When the first lady is traveling the country to decry the “obesity epidemic,” it makes more sense for Mars to conform to an arbitrary caloric line.
This corporate change of heart about sugary overload isn’t a bad thing for me personally. I’ve consumed way too many king-size Snickers bars in my life. But coming as it does amid a White House-driven campaign against obesity, and after the nanny state has taken control of light bulbs across America, it’s a wee bit annoying.
It’s also a hypocritical marketing gimmick considering that I just spotted a $10 Snickers bar like this in a local CVS last week:
These developments combined have inspired me. For our New Year’s Eve party this year, in memory of the soon-to-be-smaller Snickers bars, I’m going to buy a “Slice ‘n Share” Snickers to bid farewell to an American tradition. Maybe I’ll cut it into servings of 220 calories or less in honor of Mr. Mars and Michelle Obama.
Then we’ll dim all the incandescent light bulbs in the house and invite everyone to gather ’round our energy-inefficient TV to watch comedian Tim Hawkins tell us all about his dream of a “Snickaloaf.”
Filed under: 1980s and Adoption and Business and Culture and Food and Government and Human Interest and Just For Laughs and Media and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Video
I know the economy is bad, but is it so bad that people would be willing to consider a job where one of the skills required is this:
I can see why someone who is willing to work indecently wouldn’t want much direct supervision. The job also requires “overnight travel” and a willingness to “embrace diversity.”
One laughable error in word choice makes the ad sound like something from an adult publication, but it’s actually a listing for … a food-safety specialist in Northern Virginia/Maryland. No pole-dancing required.
My guess is that the ad meant to say the employee “must be able to work independently.” Instead, we see what happens when all of the copy editors are downsized.
Filed under: 1980s and Adoption and Books and Business and Grammar and Just For Laughs and Media
Three years ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of hosting a young Guatemalan man in our Virginia home for a few weeks. Andres came to the United States on a work visa for a job in Texas, but when he arrived, his sponsoring employer told Andres he had no work available.
The employer then told Andres he could use the short-term visa to work anywhere in the country. He chose Northern Virginia, in part because of the job market and in part because mutual friends introduced Andres to our family — including the three children we adopted from Guatemala.
We loved having Andres in our home. The children adored him and even took an interest in learning their native tongue, an idea they had resisted for years when Mom and Dad suggested it. We took Andres to the White House, treated him to exotic meals (by Guatemalan standards) and spoiled him as best we could while he struggled to make sense of his immigration status.
But after a trip to the Guatemalan embassy, we became concerned that Andres had no right to be in America. We paid an immigration lawyer who confirmed that suspicion.
Andres’ would-be employer had lied. His visa gave him the right to work only in Texas, only for that employer and only for a few months. He was an illegal immigrant — and living in our home. Worse, he was in a city on the prowl for illegal immigrants, with our house located just blocks from the “Liberty Wall of Truth” in Manassas.
The lawyer advised Andres to stay in our home until he could take the earliest flight to Guatemala. We bought his airline ticket and sent him home to the needy family he had come to America to support.
I thought of Andres last week as I read and watched the confession of “undocumented immigrant” Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-winning journalist who lied for more than a decade so he could stay in America and rise to glory in a profession that prides itself on truth-telling.
I am part of that profession. I also happen to know Jose, who cited me as a source on technology and politics when he was a reporter at The Washington Post. (I was the editor of National Journal’s Technology Daily.) And I am shocked to see him being heralded as a hero.
The story of how Jose learned he was an illegal immigrant at age 16, four years after he came to America, is heart-rending. He was a victim of the deceptions of adults he trusted, his mother in the Philippines and his grandparents in California.
But there is nothing heroic about manipulating the legal system and lying to employers to get one’s way, as Jose did time and again once he knew the truth.
Filed under: Adoption and Family and Friends and Government and Human Interest and Media and News & Politics and People and Technology and Video
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Last week I wrote about the desire of adopted children — including, presumably, our own — to reconnect with their birth parents as they mature. This week I learned that’s not always a good idea. Adopted children may find skeletons in their birth closets — like a notorious birth father:
Roberts’ story won’t, and shouldn’t, deter adopted children from being curious about their pasts. But it is indeed a cautionary note.
While the odds of being Charles Manson’s son are slim, the odds of finding a parent with a colorful history are much greater. Many children are put up for adoption because they are born into the world in circumstances that are not the best.
Filed under: Adoption and Human Interest and People
For 10 years, my wife and I have been living the adoption dream. After we had endured the anguish of infertility for years, God blessed us with three angels from Guatemala — Anthony (10), Eliana (almost 8) and Catherine (5 as of a week ago).
“Anthony will always be the one I cried and prayed for,” Kimberly said soon after we brought our son home. “He’s the one who filled the emptiness in my life.” And Elli and Catie filled my quiver, making our family complete. Our children are the happy ending to our adoption story.
But the rest of that story, the part involving the emptiness of children who do not know their birth parents, has not been lived. I was reminded of that unwritten chapter today when reading about our friends, Rick, Pam and Scottie Reynolds.
I’ve blogged about Scottie before. He is the star of Villanova’s basketball team. But more relevant to our family, he is adopted — and he has struggled with the emotions of loving his parents yet wanting to know his birth mother. That’s the story USA Today told.
Filed under: Adoption and Family and Friends and Human Interest and People and Sports
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England was paroled in March 2007 after serving half of a three-year sentence for her part in the scandal and now lives in her hometown, Fort Ashby, W.Va. She is the single mother of a 4-year-old son and can’t find a job because, she says, no one wants to hire the woman who became the face of Abu Ghraib.
That brings us to this quote: “Normal moms have jobs. They get up, they take their kids to school, they go to work, they come home, they cook, they clean, they do all that. I’m home all day.”
Say what?! I realize I’m almost three decades removed from childhood, but Lynndie England’s twisted perception of a “normal mom” doesn’t describe the woman who raised me in West Virginia. It doesn’t describe my wife, either, or most of our friends — or even women I’ve known in the workforce.
Filed under: Adoption and Culture and Family and Home Schooling and Parenting and People
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