Double Standards? Two Women, One Threat
and Kay Yow
are both battling recurrences of breast cancer.
Yow is a basketball coach at North Carolina State University.
Her fight for her life has been lauded as inspirational and garnered praise, as it has provided emotionally-charged fuel for her team's run through the latter half the season, the conference tournament and the NCAA D-1 tourney. For the last several weeks, her every word has been regarded as inspirational; her every appearance at a ball game or practice, a monument to her spirit.
Edwards, on the other hand, has been lambasted for not demanding her husband drop out of the Presidential race upon receiving news that her breast cancer has also recurred and spread. The very same voices that offered to pray for her, that expressed condolences to the Edwardses, swiftly turned to excoriation.
Comedian Rush Limbaugh accused the couple of turning to politics instead of God, and suggested that the announcement of Mrs. Edwards' condition was made to cynically manipulate the political process and give her husband a modicum of insulation against rivals' attacks.
It's been three years since Elizabeth Edwards' diagnosis.
But she is not a darling of the Christianist Right, a la Naomi Judd; she is not to be offered the simple human decency of living her life on her own terms in the face of medical news she is, in the final analysis, not in a position to reverse, overcome or ignore.
How ironic that a woman who coaches basketball can be uplifted for the very same qualities that a woman whose husband speaks the truth to power and seeks to improve the lives of not just the students who play ball for his school, but their parents and cousins and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and neighbors and competitors, and all their families -- every one of us who lives in that America Edwards points out isn't the America of the privileged and powerful, but the America of the working class and, yes, the poor -- finds herself facing humiliation and public censure for.
Cheer for Kay Yow. But don't boo Elizabeth Edwards.
Cancer, unlike politics, pundits, and puling mortal humans, is an indifferent and unprejudiced slayer. It's an equal-opportunity evil.