A great deal has been said about Bob Vander Plaats' pledge signed last week by presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The part of the pledge implying that African American children may have been better off under slavery because two parents were present has received widespread attention.
But one section of the pledge jumped right out at me. As the aging product of an Irish Catholic culture who were said to "breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin," I remember when the news of yet another child on the way brought not just happiness, but worry dread to the mothers in my neighborhood. Another bundle of joy, but at the same time another one to feed, clothe, and care for. The church wouldn't have it ant other way. So when I read this part of the pledge, I was creeped out:
“Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.”
Yep, "robust childbearing and reproduction." Trying to bolster the underlying assumptions in this part of the pledge, Vander Plaats provides a footnote that makes reference to several "sources." There's Mark Steyn's America Alone, a 2006 polemic about how Muslims are outbreeding Europeans, Ben Wattenberg's Fewer, about which Publisher's Weekly said "starts off as a persuasive statistical analysis [that] dwindles into demagoguery," and Julian (everything-will-last-forever) Simon's thirty-year-old The Ultimate Resource.
Both Spotty and MrMNO have read Steyn's racial views into the pledge, that what Vander Plaats means by "robust childbearing and reproduction" is a dog whistle to those who worry that the United States is destined to become a minority majority country. For those who fear growing influence and power in citizens not of European descent, the pledge represents a call-out to their fears.
But to Robin Marty and I, the pledge is more of a shout out to the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. As Robin points out, those more familiar with the movement saw it right away and pegged this as endorsing coercive childbearing cloaked in economic strength. Make no mistake: control over women who desperately love their children is easily accomplished by forcing them to bear more. The document signed by Bachmann - one probably that will soon be signed by Pawlenty - is a coded message for barefoot and pregnant.
The pledge represents just one more step in an assault on women's rights undertaken by the Bachmanns of the world and the men who control them. It started ostensibly as criticism of abortion rights many years ago that has now become a full-out attack on the legitimacy of birth control.
Vander Plaats is best known for his campaign last year to remove judges from the Iowa Supreme Court, an undertaking one former aid has called obsessive and a threat to the Iowa judiciary. But beyond that, Vander Plaats evidences a deep seated antipathy to women who don't fall into line with his world view. In a post that has since been removed from his website, he praised certain marriages:
Studies have shown that divorce rates between Thai girls, Filipina girls and foreign men are lower than other marriages.We will leave to you, dear reader, to figure out what is meant by that assertion from a Christian patriarch.
All of this leads to one inescapable conclusion: Bob Vander Plaats is a cesspool of misogyny the depth of which we have yet to plumb.
Note: The illustration is from another place and time where the strategic value of robust childbearing and reproduction was particularly valued.