14 Jan 2007
There was drama on Friday in Washington DC during the appearance of Condoleezza Rice before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Democratic Party Sen. Barbara Boxer apparently attacked Rice as a childless woman who did not understand the sacrifices made by families of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The U.S. secretary of state (who is single and childless) was there to do her duty of defending the Bush administration’s unpopular Iraqi policy.
Senator Barbara Boxer was apparently trying to drive home the point that Rice did not comprehend the price of war because of her family status. “You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family,” said Boxer to Rice. “Who will pay the price?” “I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, my grandchild is too young—So who pays the price? Not me, not you.” Observers interpreted Boxer’s statements as a nasty personal attack on the Secretary of State. Rice who later said she was confused by Boxer’s outburst responded in a composed manner; “I know what they are going through [the soldiers]. I talk to their families, I can never do anything to replace any of those lost men and women in uniform.”
Senator Barbara’s statements to Condoleezza were in sour taste and it was not long before reactions started coming. The white house spokesman Tony Slow called the comments “outrageous”. The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) called on Senator Barbara Boxer to issue an apology to Secretary Rice and single and childless women everywhere.
Many of us (and I am one) may be opposed to the current U.S. policy in Iraq but it is certainly immoral and unacceptable to remotely link the judgment and competence of policy makers to their family status.
By the way, it is common knowledge that the children of those with powerful political connections in the U.S. and elsewhere have historically not been the ones that engage the enemy in active warfare. They may serve in the military but they somehow always find themselves doing jobs far away from the killing fields. If Condoleezza Rice and Barbara Boxer had adult kids in the U.S army, I am pretty sure that they certainly will not be among those patrolling the streets of Bagdad. So both of them will not pay the price with immediate family members anyway. The issue of paying the price is therefore a nonstarter for the ruling elites of our world.
Unfortunately for Rice, this controversy was stirred again during her visit to Israel on Saturday when a reporter asked whether as a single childless woman she had difficulties appreciating the consequence of war? Rice sighed and answered; “No”. Adding, “I also think that being a single woman does not in any way make me incapable of understanding not just those sacrifices but also that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifices”.
This type of question does no credit whatsoever to the profession of journalism. There was a display of reckless insensitivity by the person that asked that question, especially coming on the heels of Condoleezza Rice’s embarrassing encounter in the Senate the previous day.
That question was not thrown at Rice but at the hundreds of millions of single and childless women of this world. It was thrown at the hundreds of millions of responsible, competent and compassionate single childless women. We should not forget that the person that epitomized compassion and care for humanity in recent memory was mother Theresa. She was a single and childless woman that won the Nobel Prize and more than six other awards for caring for the downtrodden children and adults of our world. There are hundreds of millions of this class of women serving humanity in various capacities.
Condoleezza Rice rightly deserves an apology from those that have hurt her and other women of her status. This statement released by Boxer defending her comments, in my opinion does not go in any way to close the topic “I spoke the truth at the committee hearing, which is that neither Secretary Rice nor I have family members that will pay the price for escalation. My point was to focus attention on our military families who continue to sacrifice because this administration has not developed a political solution to the situation in Iraq.” That is true madam but what we are saying is that the contextual meaning of this statement when applied to both of you does not have the same connotation. That is more so when you consider it within the framework of what you said in the Senate. Ms. Rice therefore deserves an apology.
Njei Moses Timah