by Chris Haire
This is an important moment in American consumer history. It’s right up there with the introduction of New Coke, Pets.com, and the birth of Ralph Nader. Seventeen magazine has made all of us a promise, a vow that they will never photoshop a model again.
The announcement was issued in response to a campaign launched by 14-year-old Julia Bluhm. According to the Maine teenager, the photoshopped images of intervention-ready supermodels that fashion magazines regularly run are a threat to young women. They give them impossible standards to aspire to and foster a negative body image. While that certainly may be true for some girls, Bluhm’s campaign and Seventeen’s vow are misguided. In fact, they teach teen girls the wrong lesson about the pursuit of beauty.
Bronzer, botox, collagen lip injections, Bristol Palin’s “corrective jaw surgery” — these are all parlor tricks that the beautiful and the damned pursue. These are the tools by which the demons of cosmetic dermatology transform regular human beings into Madame Tussauds-approved pod people. Instead of demanding that Seventeen feature real, untouched girls, we should be teaching our daughters that the so-called beautiful people are creatures to be pitied and gawked at like the runway geeks and sideshow supermodels that they are. We should stare the ugly truth in the face, not shield our eyes from their monstrous, malformed mugs.
Speaking of staring reality in its ugly face, the time has come for my fellow Democrats to look in the mirror and admit the horrible, horrible truth — Nikki Haley is here to stay and there is nothing we can do about it. The sooner we accept this fact, the better. After all, the longer we pursue the misguided policy of attacking Haley for every transgression — real, perceived, or simply petty — the worse we look to the masses. Haley has won the PR war by successfully convincing South Carolinians that those who are trying to bring her down are engaged in a mission fueled not by righteous indignation but by misogyny and racism. The recent House Ethics Committee hearing on Haley is the perfect example of this.
As you know, the Ethics Committee cleared Haley of the charges of illegally lobbying while she was a state legislator, but not until after the governor herself took the figurative stand and proclaimed that her chief accuser, Republican mover and shaker John Rainey, was a “racist, sexist bigot.” Haley claims that during a 2010 meeting with Rainey, he made an off-color remark implying that she had terrorists in her family. If the governor is to be believed, this was Rainey’s way of letting her know, intentionally or not, that — given her Indian heritage and the fact that she was raised as a follower of the Sikh faith — she was not like him. She was an other, and because of that, it was certainly within the realm of possibility that someone in her family — perhaps someone in India or someone closer to home — held anti-American sentiments. Rainey has said that he doesn’t recall making the remarks, but he has acknowledged that he probably did and that he meant no harm. That’s not good enough. From now on, Rainey is tainted. And anyone who associates with him is as well.
That’s not to say that the House Ethics Committee hearing was a fair and objective hearing. Nay. It was a well-orchestrated piece of political theater. Prior to the hearing, Rainey was subpoenaed, but the Ethics Committee never called him to testify. In fact, they sequestered him in a room for 12 hours, refusing to give him the chance to plead his case. As for those who did testify, no one was surprised by their testimony. They all denied that Haley had ever lobbied for their respective organizations.
And nothing signifies the show-trial aspect of the Haley hearing quite like the governor’s surprise 11th-hour appearance. Unlike Rainey, Haley hadn’t been subpoenaed by the Ethics Committee and was not expected to testify. During her testimony, Haley proclaimed to her colleagues in Columbia and reporters from across the state that Rainey was a sexist and a racist, a charge that the Republican mover and shaker, locked away in his cage, could not counter. Considering all of this, it’s easy to see that the entire proceedings were designed to clear the governor of all charges and forever sully the name of her chief accuser.
Which is why I’m urging my fellow Democrats to give it a rest, to let Haley be. The wagons have circled around her. She’s untouchable. With this in mind, we need to look at Haley’s most relentless critics. If you stare long enough, you will see them for what they truly are. They’re a foul lot of rumor-mongering, broken-hearted bloggers; old-boy, Confederate-flag waving racists; and Bible beaters who don’t believe that Haley is really a Christian. They’ve called her a Sikh Jesus, a whore, a raghead. This kind of behavior is not acceptable, especially in the Democratic Party, the party of tolerance and inclusion. Our desire to oust Haley and embarrass the Republicans has led us to ally with assholes and has often made us act like truly ugly human beings. This writer is no exception. And after looking in the mirror, I’ve decided I don’t like what I see. I plan on changing. Will you?