Monday, October 17, 2016

Enough about the beast; let’s talk about some beauty

It comes with the ticking parcel that Republican voters left on our doorstep, but we've focused way too much lately on what a Twitter hashtag fest -- #TrumpDrSeuss -- has christened The Deplorax.

He of the orange hair and a thousand calculated insults, many aimed at women. He of horrible boasts backed by deplorable acts.

As many observed after the second presidential debate, it is a sad time for our nation. That is, unless we hear about something spectacularly uplifting, like what Michelle Obama said the other night.

I'm not talking about her emotional denunciation of that well-parsed "boys on the bus" tape. That was magnificent.

(As with her show-stopper at the Democratic National Convention, it seems that every time she has the microphone anymore she stops a nation in its tracks.)

But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about what she said to two beautiful groups of African school girls.

Her comments are the highlight of a stirring CNN documentary, "We Will Rise," focused on the drive to provide education for girls being denied it by cultural impediments and poverty.

The film is tied to the White House's Let Girls Learn initiative, in which Peace Corps volunteers have been dispatched to help change village attitudes about these matters and mentor young girls.

Because of religious restrictions and the lack of public schools – with crippling school fees that families reserve for males over females -- 62 million girls are held out of school.

This is no trifling matter, ; the fact that 40 percent of Earth's women are illiterate means high infant mortality, poor health care and high rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

In "We Will Rise" we meet, along with the first lady, a Liberian girl who is attending school despite community pressure. Indeed, during filming, town fathers come to lecture her, hustling her away from the microphones.

We meet a Moroccan girl whose request to attend school was denied by her parents until she refused to eat. She ended up class valedictorian, though she was advised not to take science classes with the boys.

We hear a Liberian 10th-grader use "sexual exploitation" with perfect elocution as she talks of how girls there must navigate a culture of objectification.

"People need and want to value you because of who you are," Michelle Obama tells the girls, who can barely control their glee, particularly when told that hugs with America's first lady are not only allowed but invited.

Sorry to those who believe that the Obamas are the antithesis of everything they believe America to be -- but, my goodness, does that lady deliver the goods, and the good.

She has said she won't run for an office. That shouldn't rule out, say, U.N. secretary general, or secretary of Health and Human Services. Surely a President Clinton wouldn't rule it out.

Speaking of Clinton, whom The Deplorax wants jailed: One of the multitudes of sterling initiatives of the Clinton Foundation is No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project. Its aim is the same as Let Girls Learn: to curb the appalling disparities facing girls and women around the world.

       No ceilings: It is sick and sad that in our own country raw sexism, embodied by a certain serial misogynist, continues to see women as less than vital partners in our communal quest.

It was revealing, in the CNN documentary, that among those at Michelle Obama's talk to the stunning and hopeful girls of Liberia was the country's president: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Yes, nearly 100 years since women got the right to vote in America, we're behind Liberia in placing the nation's stewardship in a woman's hands.

That can change in a few short weeks.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


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