I’ve noticed a curious aspect to Sarah Palin’s career.
She seems to have, all of her life, sided with strongly patriarchal men—and patriarchal ideology—against women, rendering them invisible.
In a broad sense, this is most obvious with regard to abortion rights—as when Palin, in the 1990s, fought hard with her church to gain control of the hospital board in the Wasilla area, and when it was achieved, it temporarily drove women to go as far as Seattle to have procedures that were once available locally. (A court ultimately overturned the hospital board’s anti-abortion policy.)
But there are also two very particular women—with names that we know—who are in the orbit of Sarah Palin’s career—and who have either been trampled upon by her or by one of her male allies.
Those two women are Mary Ellen Emmons (a former Wasilla Public Library librarian) and Mama Jane (a woman accused of witchcraft and driven from her community by one of Palin’s pastoral supporters, the Rev. Thomas Muthee).
In both of these women’s cases, their lives were rendered invisible and roughly cast aside in the name of the fundamentalist, patriarchal missionary cause.
Let’s look at Mary Ellen Evans experience first:
Mary Ellen Emmons was the President of the Alaska Library Association.
She was also librarian at the Wasilla Public Library.
As mayor, Sarah Palin asked Ms. Emmons whether she would, upon ordered to do so, remove objectionable books from the library’s collection.
Ms. Emmons said NO.
Ms. Palin FIRED HER.
After a local public uproar, Ms. Emmons was reinstated, but two years later she quit because “it was just too hard to work for Sarah Palin.”
Here’s ABC News reporting on the whole ugly affair:
And here are the basic facts around Mama Jane:
Mama Jane lived in a community in Kenya where Thomas Muthee had started a church, and where he detected “a spirit of witchcraft.”
After a great deal of prayer, Muthee landed upon Mama Jane as the source for this “spirit of witchcraft” in the community.
He accused her of casting spells and causing car accidents in the community, and he publically warned her to convert or leave the community.
Her home was subsequently raided, her pet snake was shot and killed by a police officer (on the assumption that it was a demon, or demonically possessed), and Mama Jane was harassed out of her community.
Muthee claims that, on Mama Jane’s absence from the community, a great religious revival ensued, with new churches opening and local bars closing.
But where Mama Jane is now is unknown.
Chris Hedges, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, and a columnist at Truthdig, also has noticed the anti-woman, anti-gay, hyper-patriarchal world that Palin goes about in, and has a recent article that starts this way:
For Palin, It’s a (Christian) Man’s World
Posted on Sep 14, 2008
AP photo / Al Grillo
By Chris Hedges
Sarah Palin may be a governor and a vice presidential candidate, but in the hyper-masculine world of the Christian right, she is subservient to a male hierarchy that claims to speak for God.
A cult of masculinity defines the Wasilla Assembly of God church and the Juneau Christian Centre where she worshipped. This cult propagates a vision of the world where believers are warriors. They are taught to ready themselves to engage in a final cataclysmic clash with the forces of Satan. This cosmic struggle, infused with the language of war, death and violence, leads inevitably to the slaughter by the righteous of all non-Christians. The photos of Palin hunched over dead animals she has shot are not simply images of a woman who is a member of the National Rifle Association. They are images of a woman who believes violence against nonbelievers is ultimately part of her religious life.
And here’s Keith Olberman’s segment on Mama Jane: